STUFF I WROTE: June 2018

Film School Rejects/One Perfect Shot

I wrote my second “Shot By Shot” piece for Film School Rejects/One Perfect Shot this month: An examination of the “underwater stalking” sequence from Creature from the Black Lagoon,  when Gill-man observes Kay as she swims in the lagoon.

After the article posted, this happened:

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Super cool. Super happy. And super grateful to write for a website that publishes 1,500+ word analyses of films.

Speaking of being super grateful to write for FSR, this next article is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever been a part of. A reader about to turn 19 reached out and asked for 19 movie recommendations from 1999 (her birth year). So, the FSR staff compiled a list. My pick: Harold Ramis’ classic, Analyze This.

The only other thing I wrote for FSR in June was this video essay guide to the work of Paul Thomas Anderson.

My internship with FSR/One Perfect Shot has come to an end, however, I have been asked to stay on and continuing writing! I’m super honored and excited to continue to write for a website that does so much good for film.

Burlington Free Press

Part of the reason I wrote less for FSR is because this month I began working at the Burlington Free Press, a daily newspaper based in Burlington, Vermont, and part of the USA Today Network. I am spending the summer as a staff reporter, covering trending topics and whatever may come across the news desk on a given day.

I wrote twenty articles in the twenty days I worked in June. Some of my favorites include:

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The complete list:

Week 1 (June 4-9)

Week 2 (June 10-16)

Week 3 (June 17-23)

Week 4 (June 24-30)

Media & Minorities Project

I am a member of the Media & Minorities Research Lab at Middlebury College. As part of that project, we run a blog. Here is my first post, on research I co-conducted in January on portrayals of survivals of sexual assault. It compares two different era: 14 months before and after news broke of the Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal, and 14 months before and after the Donald Trump Access Hollywood tape was released. Check out the post to see what we found. There’s a lot more to be researched on this subject.

Perfect Shots:

A few of the “Perfect Shots” I chose for One Perfect Shot. (Twitter: @oneperfectshot)

STUFF I WROTE: MAY 2018

STUFF I WROTE: MAY 2018

Last month, I wrote what may be my magnum opus for Film School Rejects/OnePerfectShot: A 2,000+ word analysis of the opening of Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo, aka my favorite film/the best film of all-time.

I also wrote about Spike Lee’s He Got Game, in celebration of the film’s 20th birthday.

A new thing I’ve started doing for FSR is putting together video essay “guides.” My first was to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo; my second to Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. I figured, why not start with the best?

Also, in the “stuff I will write” category, I am thrilled and grateful to have been named a Kellogg Fellow in the Humanities. This fellowship from Middlebury will provide me with a generous stipend to conduct research for my senior thesis.

From the release: “Will DiGravio ’19, a film and media culture major, will study the work of film director Alfred Hitchcock through his project titled “The Auteur as Adaptor: Examining the Production of Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Dial M for Murder.” DiGravio’s research will take him to Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, including five days at the Alfred Hitchcock Archive at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library. DiGravio’s faculty advisor is Professor Christian Keathley.”

Special thank you to my advisors and professors who helped me piece the proposal together!

Finally, I started assisting with One Perfect Shot’s social, selecting the “perfect shots.” Here are a few of the shots I’ve chosen:

Stuff I Wrote: April 2018

Stuff I Wrote: April 2018

During the month of April, I wrote some of my favorite pieces for Film School Rejects/One Perfect Shot. Check them out!

On FSR, we held our first #DebateWeek, where a bunch of staff writers made the case for certain years in film being the best. I made the case for 1959: Rio Bravo, North By Northwest, Ben-Hur, Some Like It Hot, The 400 Blows, et al. While I didn’t win the Twitter vote, I stand by my decision.

In my next piece, I reflected on what the movies mean to me, and argued that they may be our last refuge from every day life. If there’s one piece of mine I would urge you to read, it is this one. 

I made a short video essay comparing two staircase scenes from Hitchcock’s Psycho and Rebecca:

I wrote about the essay, and the video essay I made it after, for FSR, here. 

I had a fun time putting together a “Beginner’s Guide to Grace Kelly,” where I took a look at her small, yet impressive filmography. From her breakthrough in High Noon through the Hitchcock years (Dial ‘M’ for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief) to her final role in High Society, alongside Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong.

My final piece for FSR in the month of April was my first film review for the website! I reviewed Anahita Ghazvinizadeh’s debut feature They. I did not like it, but there were some promising moments.

 

Stuff I Wrote: March 2018

Stuff I Wrote: March 2018

In March, I continued my internship at Film School Rejects/One Perfect Shot: I wrote my last post on video essays, about a great one using Stagecoach to examine the “face of film.”

I then transitioned away from the video rotation of the internship to a copy editing and opinion writing focus. Here are the pieces I wrote for FSR:

  1. I made the case for Robert California, arguing that he is an essential and under appreciated character in The Office saga.
  2. I then wrote about Midnight and Paris and why I hate-watch it all the time.
  3. After the hates criticized the Midnight and Paris piece, telling me the purpose of the film is to be cliche, I responded by examining how films effectively utilize cliche.

Finally, I co-wrote a report for The Middlebury Campus on how the college’s decision to implement a swipe system in the dining hall is saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Stuff I Wrote: Feb. 2018

Stuff I Wrote: Feb. 2018

February was the first full month I spent as an intern with Film School Rejects/One Perfect Shot. It has been incredibly cool experience having a platform to write about film. In February, I was tasked with finding great video essays and writing about them. Here are the essays I wrote about:

The Difference Between Marilyn Monroe’s Public and Private Personas
Why We Love the Old, Grainy Face of Film
Five Must Watch Video Essays For Hitchcock Fans
Paul Thomas Anderson Really Loves Frames
A Connection Between Characters in the Saoirse Ronan Universe
Why Hitchcock Altered the Opening Sequence of Notorious
How Guillermo del Toro Uses Color to Create New Worlds

I also wrote about a video essay I made comparing Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane:
Exploring the Relationship Between Citizen Kane and Rebecca

Per usual, here is the monthly “Best Of” list I put together for The Middlebury Campus. Please check it out, we produced some great work this month!

And, finally, I wrote one ‘I Cover the Waterfront’ this month, on the deification of the Founding Fathers in the gun control debate.

Trespassing: From Manderley to Xanadu – Updated

Trespassing: From Manderley to Xanadu – Updated

In December, I wrote about a video essay I made comparing Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940) and Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941)I wrote an expanded version of that post for Film School Rejects. Feedback is most welcome!


A few months ago, I was lucky enough to watch Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane within weeks of each other on the big screen. With the former fresh on my mind as I watched the latter, I couldn’t help but pick up on similarities.

Given that the two films were made within a year of each other — they were released in 1940 and 1941, respectively — they often invite comparison, especially since a foreboding mansion is central to both. In Rebecca, it’s Maxim de Winter’s Manderley, while in Citizen Kane, it’s Charles Foster Kane’s Xanadu.

That specific relationship between the two films is explored in a video by Rob Stone entitled “No Trespassing: From Manderley to Xanadu,” which places the opening and closing sequences from each side by side. Watch it below.

Rebecca and Citizen Kane both begin with foreboding exterior shots of their respective mansions, suggesting, as Stone does in his essay’s title, that we enter the story through trespass.

Rebecca is told from the subjective view of Joan Fontaine’s character, the second Mrs. de Winter. Though she is married to Maxim, played by Laurence Olivier, she is an outsider at Manderley. She lives in the shadow of the first Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca. Surrounded by Rebecca’s objects and constantly reminded of her greatness by Mrs. Danvers, the second Mrs. de Winter is a trespasser in her own home. And since Hitchcock presents the story from her subjective view, so are we.

Citizen Kane actually opens with a “No Trespassing” sign. The notion of trespassing is more or less what prompts the story, since the film is an investigation of the life of Kane (Welles) by the journalist Jerry Thompson (William Alland), the ultimate trespasser. Kane is also a kind of trespasser. He never truly belongs in the aristocratic world that his inherited fortune allowed him to enter into.

Susan Alexander (Dorothy Comingore), Kane’s second wife, is also a trespasser. With Kane’s financial backing, she trespasses into the world of opera, despite having little to no ability. In the scenes of her at Xanadu, we see her again, like the second Mrs. DeWinter, as a kind of trespasser, this time into the life of Kane. She appears out of place, small and insignificant compared to the grand staircases and fireplaces of Xanadu. She doesn’t belong.

Both films also end in fire. Rebecca ends with Manderley in flames, and the final shot is of the embroidered “R” on Rebecca’s pillow being devoured by them. Hitchcock’s ending influenced Welles. The final shot of Citizen Kane is Kane’s Rosebud sled turning to ash in a furnace. The fire, in both cases, brings us a kind of closure. It eliminates Rebecca’s ghost, allowing the couple to be together. And it provides the audience an answer to the question “what is Rosebud?”.

After watching these two films and Stone’s video, I couldn’t help but think more about their similarities. I am excited by videographic criticism because it allows us to reexamine old films in new ways. For us younger film critics, it is sometimes discouraging to watch an old film, fall in love with it, want to write about it, and then realize that there are shelves and shelves of books filled with ideas we thought were original. Video essays and works like Stone’s “No Trespassing” allow us to revisit films like Citizen Kane and learn from them in new ways.

What I also love about video essays in general are their emphasis on exploration. This form allows us to create criticism that perhaps results in more questions than answers. After I watched Stone’s video, I thought to myself, “What happens when we trespass? What happens when we explore the halls and grounds of de Winter’s Manderley and Kane’s Xanadu?” So, I uploaded both films to Adobe Premiere, played around, and made the below video, which has the incredibly original title of “Trespassing: From Manderley to Xanadu.”

The comparisons you see do not create a specific argument about character, theme, the directors, etc. They’re simply shots and sequences that reminded me of one another. I’m curious to hear what folks think, so please comment on Vimeo or tweet at me (@willdigravio) and let me know!

Stuff I Wrote: Jan. 2018

Stuff I Wrote: Jan. 2018

It’s chill time for us at The Middlebury Campus. It is a time of transition for the paper, where we say goodbye to old editors who are heading abroad/graduating, welcome back editors from abroad, and invite new editors to join our board. This month we added seven new editors across four sections, and had other editors transfer over to different sections.

Here’s is the “Best of” list I put together each month highlighting the paper’s best work.

Film School Rejects

I’m also very pleased to share that, as of last month, I am one of the new group of interns at Film School Rejects, the popular film blog that also runs One Perfect Shot.

Interns go through four different six-week rotations: writing, editing, social media, and video. I’m starting off as part of the video team, where I am responsible for writing two video essay-related blogs per week and/or working on longer video essay projects.

Thus far, I’ve written two blogs:

Enjoy! And if you know of any great video essays, please let me know!