The Videographic Essay: Practice and Pedagogy

Videographic Trailers

This assignment transformed the most over the multiple workshops. For the first year, we asked the participants to produce a sixty- to ninety-second ‘alternative’ trailer with the following constraints: the videos should use precisely three on-screen titles consisting of no more than five words each; and the videos should include at least three different transitions in addition to straight cuts. Further, each participant received one additional parameter from among these: all images must be of characters in motion; no close-ups of people, only objects; no shots using camera movement; shots can include no more than one person. The goal was to encourage the production of trailers which did not focus on story—which were not a narrative ‘preview’ of the film in question—but rather which highlighted other aspects of the film, such as its visual and aural patterns or its tone. The results were decidedly mixed, with some of the best trailers included below.

For future workshops, we revised the assignment to create videographic Abstract Trailers. This form asked participants to consider features of both the scholarly abstract (subject and critical approach) and the motion picture trailer (style and tone). One key goal of this video, as with a movie preview, was to make others want to see your final project. We asked participants to spend the weekend producing an abstract trailer, lasting no more than two minutes, of their final videographic project. These videos proved to be more successful and helped set participants up to succeed on their final video essays.

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