in movies, photography, videos

The Making of That Close-Ups Video Essay

This week I published a new video essay at /Film on the art of close-ups. I was grateful and honored to have Edgar Wright’s participation on this essay. But how did it come to be?

This essay started as a much simpler supercut of all the close-ups in Wright’s Cornetto trilogy. I cut together what this would look like for Shaun of the Dead as a proof of concept:

I showed this video to a few people and…it didn’t really do anything for them. They didn’t react with “Wow, this is so cool!” or “This mashup is illuminating!” so I kind of put it on the back burner for awhile. Separately, I’d been wanting to do a feature with Wright for /Film for quite some time – we’d always meant to get him on as a guest of the podcast around the time that The World’s End was released but the timing just never worked out.

The thing with filmmaker interviews is: they are legion. Filmmakers go through a press gang bang every time they promote a movie in a big way and over time, all the questions/answers have to take on the feeling of sameness. It is virtually impossible to ask questions in a way that feels novel or revealing. I felt bad subjecting Wright to yet another press interview, so I wanted to try an alternate tactic. I reached out with the proof of concept video above and asked if he’d like to record an interview with me on the art of close-ups to be released in video essay form. Fortunately, he agreed.

We chatted for about 20 minutes or so on Skype. I edited that interview down into a 8.5 minute monologue, then proceeded with the painstaking process of finding all the footage that matched what Wright was talking about and putting the essay together. The entire video essay took about 4-5 weeks of work, on and off, on nights after my day job and during weekends.

This video hit the web on Wednesday morning, and gained some traction via Youtube thanks to a few prominent tweets:

The art of close-ups with @edgarwright via @slashfilm
— Wes Craven (@wescraven) January 29, 2014

Check out this interview I did with @slashfilm about close ups. Don’t count the number of times I say ‘like’ though.
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) January 29, 2014

On Saturday morning (2/1/2014), Vimeo made the video a Staff Pick, giving the video a whole new life.


It’s been a long-time goal of mine to make the Staff Picks page, so I was incredibly grateful and honored to be chosen.

As a video-maker just starting out, it is quite challenging to monetize these types of videos. There are a few possible pathways for it. You could build a massive following on Youtube/Vimeo, then sell ads or get a bunch of cash via Tip Jar. Or you could run your videos on a site that has a high-tech custom video player and a seasoned ad sales team, and is thus able to pay you handsomely for your efforts. I didn’t really have access to any of the above, so the only substantive reward for this project was the feeling that I contributed to our collective knowledge on a specific topic of interest – a challenging bar that I generally try hard to reach with all my work.

I joked a few times that if I had known how long this whole process would take, I never would have attempted it in the first place. Having seen how many people have enjoyed the video, all of that work now feels worth it. Simultaneously, there are thousands and thousands of people who are way more talented than me at this, who toil endlessly to produce videos of far greater craft and import, and who never get their work noticed on a significant scale. As much as possible, I try to rectify this by highlighting their work whenever possible using the platforms I am blessed to have. But the feeling I’m left with after the exhausting process of creating and promoting this video essay is this: I can always do more.