Best Video Essays: Your 2016 Cinema Studies Curriculum

Lucy Liu
Lucy Liu as O-Ren Ishii in 'Kill Bill'
Who needs film school with all the informative new video essays out this year?

Video essays have become increasingly popular in the last couple of years. Essayists like Kevin B. Lee, Lewis Bond, and Darren Foley dig into the subjects often reserved for film school classrooms, collectively constructing the future of cinematic education with their videos. This year, we also debuted No Film School's own essay series on various historic cinematic movements. As 2016 draws to a close, let's take a look back at some of the best video essays published this year—which, together, form a pretty solid curriculum for students and lovers of film.


Screenwriting and Character Building

It all starts with a script. These video essays will introduce you to many different techniques that are vital to storytelling, like creating dimensional characters and writing great plot twists.

Directors Directing

We can learn so much about what we do and don't want to do in our own films by studying the work of other directors. These video essays explore some of our most prolific craftspeople, inlcuding:

Cinematography 202

Cinematography is both a technically and creatively demanding art form, but here are some video essays that will help you understand how its fundamental concepts like composition, camera movement, and even the use of shapes can affect your story visually.

Color Theory 101

Color is such an important component of cinematography that it gets its own section. Here are some great studies on how filmmakers have used color to tell richer stories.

Editing: Cutting, Timing, and Montage

Much can be learned about the assembly of a film, from the technique of famous editors like Walter Murch to how to manipulate an audience through montage. Here are some video essays worth studying:

History of Cinema

Having a well-rounded cinematic education is important if you want to truly be a master at your craft. Learning about the history of the art form is a great place to start, so here are several video essays that will give you a basic introduction, from early influential filmmakers like Charlie Chaplin to different film movements that came to prominence throughout the years. 


Of course, no cinematic education would be complete without studying the weird stuff. So, here's some weird stuff.

We have covered many more truly great video essays over this past year (as well as before). We encourage you to not only check out the ones that have appeared on No Film School, but to venture out and find ones that speak to you, too.

See all of our 2016 Year-in-Review coverage.

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Your Comment


I believe a big dissimilarity between personality thought and film school is that film school also forces you to inscribe analyzing papers on style/genres/director/movies/sequence and that will help you to believe about the verbal communication of film.

March 7, 2017 at 10:44AM


nice post .

March 7, 2017 at 10:44AM, Edited March 7, 10:44AM


I’m a BA Film student and a cinephile, and I can’t thank you folks enough for this amazing essay compilation. Exploring the complexities of cinema is a real challenge, even for me. I’ve always been accustomed to writing my own essays but if you see this as a challenge, a service like can definitely help you out.

August 21, 2018 at 2:00PM, Edited August 21, 2:00PM


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November 3, 2018 at 6:09AM, Edited November 3, 6:09AM


Lucy Liu was amazing in 'Kill Bill'! Very original and well-written character.

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