How to Shoot a Film in One Room

How to Shoot a Film in One Room

A Video Essay

Before I was able to write a blog post about this video essay, Jacob Oller at Film School Rejects beat me to it: “The Art of the Single Room Film.” It was super cool to have FSR write about my essay. Oller writes about video essays regularly, check out his work here.

In his post, Oller correctly identified the impetus for the essay: my fascination with the way directors make great films despite great limitations. The idea for this essay came after watching Dial ‘M’ for Murder (1954) and reading about the film in Hitchcock/Truffaut. Unfortunately, the exchange between the two filmmakers is as short as it is insightful.

Hitchcock believed the film was not truly his, since it was an intensely faithful adaptation of Frederick Knott’s highly successful stage play of the same name. In their interview, Hitchcock tries to brush any mention of the film aside, however, Truffaut smartly reels him back in, recognizing the film is a masterpiece.

(Unfortunately, I am in Massachusetts and my copy of Hitchcock/Truffaut is in Vermont, so I am unable to quote directly from it. My description of their exchange is from memory, please forgive any errors until I am back in VT!)

Hitchcock talks about how the film is a departure from the way in which plays were typically adapted. Normally, he says, filmmakers would merely take the play and extend it, meaning they would have shots of a character getting out of a taxi, walking to the door, walking through the hallway, etc., before they arrived in the space where the main dramatic action is to take place. Always a challenger of the form, Hitchcock instead limited himself to a single room, leaving only briefly two or three times throughout the entire film. Rather than recording a play on camera, he delivers a limited setting story in cinematic form.

As someone who studies both film and English (with a focus in drama) Hitchcock’s insight got me excited to further explore the turning of drama into cinema. A few weeks later, on one of my late-night Internet deep-dives, I discovered this Hollywood Reporter roundtable discussion with Quentin Tarantino and a handful of other directors from 2016, around the time The Hateful Eight (2015) was released. During the course of the discussion, Tarantino talks about his want to turn his film into a play. In other words, the inverse of Dial ‘M’ For Murder. This excited me, so I went to the library and borrowed a copy of the film. As soon as Kurt Russell began exploring Minnie’s Haberdashery, with Dial ‘M’ fresh on my mind, I knew I had the beginnings of a video essay.

With help from a few of my film professors and some online lists, I began exploring films that mostly take place in a single room and settled on two: Rope (1948; Hitchcock) and Wait Until Dark (1967; Terence Young). The end product: “How to Shoot a Film in One Room.”



Also, I’d like to thank Prof. Jason Mittell and my classmates in Videographic Film Studies at Middlebury College for their guidance and feedback. I hope this essay will be only the beginning of my exploration of films that take place in a single room. If there are any I should check out, please let me know!

Trespassing: From Manderley to Xanadu

Trespassing: From Manderley to Xanadu

A Video Essay

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to watch Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940) and Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane (1941) within weeks of each other as part of two separate courses at Middlebury, the former film as part of a course dedicated exclusively to Hitchcock’s body of work.

Since the two films were made within a year of each other, they often draw comparison, especially since a foreboding mansion is central to both: in Rebecca, it’s Maxim DeWinter’s Manderley, and in Citizen Kane, it’s Charles Foster Kane’s Xanadu. The similarities between the films’ beginnings and especially their endings is tought to miss:

Screen Shot 2017-12-23 at 5.29.47 PM

The above comparison is taken from Rob Stone’s video essay “No Trespassing: From Manderley to Xanadu,” in which he puts the beginnings and endings of both films side by side to illustrate their similarities, and how we enter both stories by trespassing.

As part of a videographic criticism course I took this fall, I responded to Stone’s essay with a video essay of my own, which I gave the incredibly original title, “Trespassing: From Manderley to Xanadu.”

The idea for this essay came after watching Stone’s essay and wondering, what happens when we trespass, when we go beyond the gates and explore the halls and grounds of Manderley and Xanadu?

What appeals to me most about the videographic form is its emphasis on exploration. The creation of this essay took place almost entirely in Adobe Premiere, that is, I simply uploaded both films to the program and explored. The side by side comparisons you see in this essay are not making a specific argument, nor are they explicitly saying something about character, theme, the directors, etc. Rather, they’re simply shots that reminded me of one another. The only definitive commonalities between them all are that they take place within the gates of Manderley and Xanadu.

Feedback is appreciated:

Stuff I Wrote: November & December

Stuff I Wrote: November & December

How is it already December? And how is the semester almost over? This week we published our final issue of The Campus – Middlebury’s one and only weekly, student-newspaper. It’s been an incredible semester and I’m very proud to be able to work alongside a phenomenal group of editors and reporters. In addition to writing a few things, I was lucky enough to edit some great stories. Be sure to read the “Best of” list!

Here’s the stuff I wrote in November:

  • The controversial conservative activist James O’Keefe came to town this week, just days after the Washington Post exposed a failed operation by a member of his organization, Project Veritas, to plant a false story with the paper about Roy Moore. Though O’Keefe did not speak on campus, the school received spam emails from an unknown organization alleging to be comprised of anonymous Middlebury students. Here’s my story on what happened.
    • Also, my story was featured in Politico’s morning email blast featuring news about higher education.
    • And check out this great interview two of our news editors (Nick Garber and Elaine Velie) did with VT Digger about the O’Keefe event and general tensions on the Middlebury campus.
  • For my weekly column, I wrote about “finding Bibles,” and what different books I have read throughout my life mean to me.

And December:

  • Two members of the Middlebury football team decided to kneel during the national anthem this season. Here’s their story.


And the Best Of List! Here’s 44 of our best stories from November and our one December issue.

Stuff I Wrote: October

Stuff I Wrote: October

It’s hard to believe that I am now entering my third November at Middlebury. Yikes. It’s also hard to believe that I am also entering my third month as the managing editor of The Middlebury Campus.  Some days I wake up and still think I’m the first year who was begging the news editor for an assignment, even though I had no idea how to write a news article. Times flies when you’re having fun and churning out copy.

Today, because I’m so proud of all the work our team at The Middlebury Campus has been doing lately, I decided at the end of each month to compile a “Best of” list that includes, as the name suggests, our best work. I’m thrilled to be a part of this team and I hope you’ll check out our work.

Now, here’s the stuff I wrote:

  • I was asked to write a short essay on Middlebury and the benefits of a liberal arts education for Times Higher Education, you can read it here.
  • It should come as a surprise to no one who follows Middlebury/higher education that our campus is tense at the moment. A couple weeks ago, vandals defaced several building on campus, here’s my story. It also ran in The Addison Independent.
  • For my media column “I Cover The Waterfront,” I interview Middlebury alum Joseph Flaherty ’15, who received national attention after he broke and his colleague at the Phoenix New Times broke a story about Motel 6 chains in Phoenix turning guests over to ICE. I talked with him about his story, and the role and future of alt-weeklies in the United States. Read it here.
  • Barney Frank and John Sununu came to Middlebury for an event last month. Afterwards, a news editor and I got a chance to sit-down with them and talk about the state of college campuses and the current political climate. Read our interview here.
  • And more:


November Sneak Peek: 

I wrote about the new documentary “Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold.” I loved it! Read my thoughts here.

Stuff I Wrote: September

Stuff I Wrote: September

It’s been three weeks since I arrived back at Middlebury, and in that time we’ve published three issues of The Middlebury Campus, our student newspaper.

It’s my first year as managing editor, and though I’ve enjoyed working with our staff to develop story ideas, change our design, and just improve the quality of our product, I miss writing and reporting. 

Because I’m not writing as much, I’ll probably only post these updates once a month. However, you should definitely check out for some high-quality student journalism. We have a great team this year and I’m super excited to read all the great work they’ll do.

I Cover the Waterfront: On This Column – The Middlebury Campus

I started a column where I where I will write about media and journalism as often as I can. In this first column, I explain the name and what I hope to accomplish. 

I Cover the Waterfront: On Original Reporting – The Middlebury Campus

Largest Class In Year Convenes In Mead Chapel – The Middlebury Campus

An article on the Class of 2012 being welcomed to the college by the administration at convocation. 


Stuff I Wrote: Aug. 14 – Aug. 17

Stuff I Wrote: Aug. 14 – Aug. 17

Well, my internship at the Addison Independent has come to end. Where did the time go? It’s hard to believe that I started working at the paper more than ten weeks ago. I am so thankful to have worked at the Addy Indy alongside some fantastic co-works who taught me so much. Getting to cover and meet folks in the 23 towns of Addison County was an unforgettable experience. Here are my final articles!

International Filmmakers Give Their Unique Take on Cinema” – The Addison Independent

This may have been my favorite article from my time at the paper. I got to speak with several international filmmakers who will have their work screened at the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival! I spoke with them about their films, their inspirations, and their creative processes. This was the cover story for the paper’s Arts & Leisure supplement. I hope you’ll check it out!

Makeshift Gun Ranges Draw Fire; Call For Safe Shooting Spaces Grows” – The Addison Independent

Over the summer I covered several gun-related stories throughout Addison County. It’s weird, it wasn’t an issue I planned to cover but it just sort of became my beat. This article details the unsafe shooting spaces and informal gun ranges throughout many towns in Addison County. I found it to be a fascinating subject, since Vermont is such a pro-gun state. I wish I could have stayed at the paper longer and explored the issue more.

Demo derby brings flips, fire, and fun” – The Addison Independent

Covering an Addison County tradition: demo derby! It was as super fun event where people fix-up old cars and smash them into one another. Here’s my play-by-play of the event.

Fairgoers Find a World of Fun at Field Days” – The Addison Independent

A few vignettes from the Addison County Fair & Field Days.