Well-thought-out, articulate articles, roughly 800-2000 words in length, on current topics in film or television. We aren’t looking for straight reviews: our goal, with blog posts, is to establish a link between the world on screen and the world off screen, to show ways in which one part of the culture reflects on, or speaks to, its larger surroundings. In simpler terms, there should be a larger idea behind a piece than a simple statement of approval or disapproval of a specific work. (You could call these “think pieces,” if you wanted, but that’s a somewhat reductive term.)
We do publish interviews: normally, the interview subjects should be people who have made a significant contribution to the world of television or independent film, either directly or indirectly, or whose presence on the site would contribute actively to the conversation between pieces. The length of these pieces may vary, depending on the depth and range of the conversation.
The video essay, as a form, has a long, complex history: it should be said that two of its more well-known practitioners, Matt Zoller Seitz and Kevin B. Lee, are the site’s Co-Founder Emeritus and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, respectively. The form is important to the publication’s identity. What is a video essay? Well, it has different meanings depending on its context—on a news show, for instance, it would be an interview, or perhaps a short documentary about a news topic. For the purposes of Press Play, though, a video essay might be one of two things: a piece that blends together scenes and sequences from different films with the end of making a conclusive statement without words, without the addition of a voice. Or: it might be scripted, meaning that someone speaks over the scenes flashing across the screen. Sometimes the speaker will be the video editor, other times not. In fact, some video essays are even simpler than this: a single element, such as shots of Al Pacino screaming, might be examined and exploited for the length of the piece. The meaning of it all? It depends—the goal is to make you look harder, and look better.
These links might fill you in:
A word about these pieces: experience with the form is not necessarily required to make a proposal for one. If an idea submitted is approved, it will go through a development phase and then be passed to a video editor, who will actually compose the piece. All that would be required of the person making the proposal would be a script, detailing scenes, placement, and duration. We try to keep video essays between 5 and 10 minutes long, although, as with written pieces, each work finds its own length.
These posts usually require some background work, e.g. research into a topic by means of interviews, web research, or even, horror of horrors, heading to the library. Subject matter is open, provided that the topic in question examines a current trend or phenomenon in film or television and looks at it in depth, providing readers with information they might not be able to get elsewhere. These pieces can range from 2000 to 4000 words.
Yes, there is payment. The scale of payment normally depends on draw and scope.
To pitch an idea, send some writing samples and include with them some ideas that interest you, and that you’d like to dig into. Film writing experience is optimal, though not always required; writing ability of all kinds can be of use, across genres and purposes. The most important thing is that you actively engage with your readers, in an articulate and respectful fashion.
You can direct pitches to Max Winter and Ken Cancelosi at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.