Video Essay

Feminist Film Studies Final Project: Video Essay

This semester we have been using feminist theories to analyze contemporary Hollywood film. Feminist critique asks us to question constructions of gender, race, nation, sexuality, class, and ability, and to challenge ideas about authorship, audiences, and production within dominant media cultures. The goal of this project is to apply what you’ve learned from feminist film theory to critique a particular item/set of items in the media. For this assignment, you will work in teams to create a 5-7 minute video essay that addresses a particular issue that feminist film theory raises for the study of popular media.

Components of a Feminist Video Essay

1) Articulates a critique of a media text/set of texts.

First, your group will identify a narrative, representation, cultural ideology, political economy issue, or industry convention that you want to critique. Next, you will chose a media text or set of texts that you will use to exemplify your topic and begin your analysis. Then, you will construct a thesis statement that articulates your central argument and include at least three main points that support your argument. Overall, your group will use theories from class to develop an argument about a feminist issue in media culture and offer a critique of a media object(s).

2) Suggests an alternative viewpoint.

The second component of your critique is to offer a solution to the feminist issue you’ve identified. This might be an alternative narrative, a new way to represent a cultural group, a way to subvert dominant ideologies, or a way to rethink how the media industry operates. In this part of the essay, your group will directly challenge the narrative, ideal, or issue that your group has identified and critiqued.

3) Prompts the viewer to take action.

The final part of your video essay will be in provocation for your audience to “buy in” to your alternative narrative, representation, or industry configuration, or to “do something” as a result of your video.

Requirements & Schedule

1) Written reflection on the process of choosing a media object—due March 4

2) Group project proposal and individual contribution proposals—due March 25

3) Video essay draft—due April 8

4) Self-critique of video draft & peer review of another group’s video draft—due April 22

5) Final video essay—uploaded to YouTube by May 6 at noon

How to Create a Feminist Video Essay

1) Pick a topic.

Your group will start with a media text or a feminist issue in media to begin focusing your analysis. Examine the broad topics we’ve discussed in class, and think about what areas your group is interested in exploring more in depth. If you’re having trouble narrowing your scope, consider specific readings or concepts that you found compelling to serve as an inspiration. Your argument might evolve as you work, but you need to have a strong sense of it going in so that you can begin cultivating materials. Your initial topic can be a problem feminist theory raises for the study of film or it could be a specific film or TV show you want to examine. Your media text can be current or historical, it can be mainstream of avant garde, it can be from the US or another country.

2) Develop a critique.

Once your group has a media object and topic, think about how you will complicate and critique the assumptions, contradictions and double standards that are produced by your media text(s) by using the feminist concepts that we have been discussing this semester. From there your group will come up with a thesis statement and three main points that support your thesis. At this stage you should begin to think about the ‘alternative viewpoint’ and ‘call to action’ components of the video essay.

3) Chose a video format.

The next step is to decide the video format that best suits your critique. Your video may take the form of a vlog, remix, fan-vid, parody, music video, voice-over commentary, public service announcement, or any other video genre you can think of. For instance, if your topic is rape culture and your media texts is a particular video game, you could create a vlog that explains rape culture with embedded video and image examples, you could create a remix or parody that highlights the problematic representations of rape in the game, you could do a voice or text-over commentary while showing how users play the game, or some combination of the above.

5) Select your audiovisual evidence.

Gather audio or video clips you’ll need and/or storyboard the footage you plan to record. If you’re using editing software, you can download editable video files from YouTube and Vimeo using KeepVid You can also find tons of archival footage and TV footage at Internet Archive.

Take detailed notes on which clips (and, specifically, which sections of the those clips) you might want to use. Just as you might choose between two or three quotes from an article when attempting to support a point, you may need to weigh the power of multiple images when crafting your remix video.

6) Write a formal proposal.

Each group will turn in a proposal for their video that includes an introduction to their topic, thesis statement, outline of their argument with 3 main points, alternative viewpoint, and call to action. The proposal will also describe the format of the video and the plan for production. Explain which programs and tools you plan to use, how you plan to acquire the video, stills, audio used, and a timeline for completion.

5) Make your video essay.

Follow the plan you developed in your proposal, consult with Jackie if you have any questions, and begin putting together your video. Check the resource guide below for additional guidance on your project. Keep in mind there are media specialists at the library that you can consult with as well.

6) Critique your video essay.

After you have finished a draft of your video essay you will perform a self-critique of your groups project and get feedback from another group. You will use the rubric below to assign a grade and offer suggestions for revision. Your comments should be at least 250 words.

7) Revise and upload your video essay.

Once you have received feedback from your group, another group, and Jackie, start revising the final version of your video. To turn-in your video, first upload your video to YouTube and then place the link to your video in an email that you submit to me by noon May 6. If you have concerns about posting to YouTube, please see me.

When you turn in your final draft, include a short two-paragraph cover letter that explains the process you used to create your video. Explain what changes did you make during each stage of your revision process and why.


Uses the Affordances of Video 10   9    8 7   6   5 4   3  2   1
  • Found footage functions as evidence
  • Sounds and music enhances argument
  • Text and images enhances argument
Meets all criteria at highest level Meets some criteria Meets few criteria
Quality of Argument 10   9    8 7   6   5 4   3  2   1
  • Clearly presents an argument that articulates a feminist critique
  • Clearly presents an alternative viewpoint
  • Includes a strong call to action
  • Anticipated and responded to audience objections
Meets all criteria at highest level Meets some criteria Meets few criteria
Met Genre Expectations 10   9    8 7   6   5 4   3  2   1
  • Chose an appropriate genre for the topic
  • Signals the genre the video belongs to
  • Title of the video, tags, and descriptions on YouTube encouraged users to watch the video
  • Catchy and descriptive title
  • 5-7 minutes long
Meets all criteria at highest level Meets some criteria Meets few criteria
Overall Clarity 10   9    8 7   6   5 4   3  2   1
  • Careful editing (cuts, framing, etc.)
  • Speaking (if used) was easy to understand and powerful
  • The video flowed together naturally
Meets all criteria at highest level Meets some criteria Meets few criteria
Process 10   9    8 7   6   5 4   3  2   1
  •  Complete topic reflection, proposal, critiques
  • Change is apparent in writing/production process (final draft is different from the first)
  • Cover letter turned in with the final video and articulates the process of completing the project.
Meets all criteria at highest level Meets some criteria Meets few criteria


University of Minnesota

Rachel RaimistFeminist Media Center

Lars Z Mackenzie, Digital Humanities Fellow:

Library Media Project Help

  • Click here to make an appointment with a Media Consultant.
  • You can also check out equipment such as cameras, tripods, audio recorders, and external hard drives for your project.
  • Library software resources

Fair Use Info:




Popcorn Maker

Final Cut Pro

 Free digital software and media resources

Find Visual Material (images & video):

Find & Edit Audio Material:

Collect, Organize, & Present Material:

  • Storify: create and curate narratives using online sources such as tweets, blog posts, videos, images, and news stories
  • Zotero: online tool to collect, tag, organize, and share research sources/collections and bibliographies
  • Evernote: collect, tag, organize, and share collections of images, videos, text, or other content. Archive program
  • Omeka: collect and curate digital collections of content
  • Pinterest: collect, tag, and curate online material
  • Prezi: presentation tool that blows PowerPoint out of the water. If you don’t know about Prezi, take a look now. It is awesome.

Build a Website:

  • WordPress: blogging platform that lets you build free websites (our course website is run through WordPress)
  • Tumblr: blogging platform that lets you build free websites/blogs (better for blogs than websites)
  • Blogger: blogging platform that lets you build free websites/blogs
  • Weebly: blogging platform that lets you build free websites/blogs

Create Something:

Examples of Video Essays

Kelli Marshall’s Student Video Essays

Male Gaze Eyes Wide Shut

Feminist Frequency


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