In a world that is increasingly moving to the internet as a source of information, the video essay is becoming a popular piece of visual content. Video essays can be found on a variety of different subjects, with many of them being free to watch on online platforms. No hiding behind a paywall here! Here is a selection of my favourite video essay creators available on YouTube.
This was one of the first video essay channels I ever stumbled across, in my hunt for some interesting content I could semi-concentrate on whilst doing revision. Since then, I’ve been hooked! Tiffany mostly makes video on online culture; her series Internet Analysis explores trends such as thrifting and reselling, or the MLM organisations that have become popular over the last few years.
Probably one of the most popular video essayists on YouTube, this channel posts video essays on a variety of subjects. From film analyses to political discourse, to art history and music. Nerdwriter1 manages to give a solid overview of a subject in a video often under 10 minutes long.
Another popular video essay channel, Contrapoints (otherwise known as Natalie Wynn) offers so-called counterarguments to the right-wing view. Natalie has explored several controversial topics such as incels, criticizing this point of view using her philosophical and sociological background. Despite dealing with sometimes heavy subject matters, her videos are always humorous and have a high level of production value, making them very entertaining watches.
This channel produces some of the most in-depth film video essays on the platform. Focusing on the way that stories are told on-screen as adapted from their screenplays (hence the name!), this channel proves that the writing of a film is just as important as the directing.
I find the “commentary” YouTube community quite problematic; however, if I ever find myself needing to catch up, I always turn to this channel. D’Angelo’s videos are always well researched, and they always serve a purpose rather than just causing unnecessary drama on a platform filled with it. His three-part series into the infamous Shane Dawson/Jeffree Star/Tati Westbrook is a must-see for anyone nosy enough to care.
Pop Culture Detective produces some amazing film analysis, focusing on how factors such as masculinity are represented on-screen. His deep dive into misogynistic tropes are valuable to anyone interested in film and television, and they will open your mind into some of the problematic ideology we are sold by the likes of the mainstream media.
Also known as the1janitor across other social media platforms, T1J produces video essays on subjects that interest him, according to his YouTube bio. I’ve been a subscriber of his channel for a few years now, and I find that his content is always topical to whatever is going on in the world at that time.
Yet another film video essay channel (sorry, but they’re my favourite!), but instead of focusing on specific films, they give an overview of actresses throughout Hollywood. From Classic Hollywood, up until the modern-day Academy Awards, this channel explores how women are involved in the film industry.
I am a long-time subscriber to Kat’s YouTube channel. Although I’m not sure I would consider her a video essayist, her longform videos exploring topics such as sexuality and the LGBTQ+ community serve an educational purpose. She is one of the most active channels on this list, posting multiple times a week, and I couldn’t recommend her videos enough.
Header image credit: No Film School