YouTube has revolutionized how people create and consume videos. Which makes it easier than ever to learn about any subject you want to learn about. Fans of film — true movie lovers — are particularly well served.
While there are a lot of channels that focus on reviewing movies, there are some YouTubers who go beyond simple reaction videos and dig deep into what makes films special.
If you’re a big fan of movies, here are four YouTube channels you should be sure to check out.
Every Frame A Painting
Every Frame A Painting is one of my favourite YouTube channels. Tony Zhou, a film maker and freelance editor, creates video essays that dive deep into film form — the language of film. If you’re interested in how, or why, films make you feel a certain way, then Zhou’s fascinating videos are a great place to start. He dissects how “composition, lighting, editing, color, silence, movement, … music,” and more all work together to create specific effects.
Each video sees Zhou look at a specific film, filmmaker, or technique, and explore what makes it work. He has looked at everything from the way Edgar Wright — the director of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World — creates visual comedy to how texting and the Internet are portrayed on screen.
His episode on Michael Bay is a masterpiece. While admitting his own dislike for Bay’s work, Zhou takes apart Bay’s techniques, like the circular panning shot and, without bias, examines them. He looks at the mechanics of the techniques, the films that influenced Bay to use them, and when and where the techniques work (and more importantly, don’t work).
If you’re interested in movies and want to develop a deeper understanding of what good filmmakers do, and what bad ones don’t do, Every Frame A Painting is required viewing. I have personally watched all of Zhou’s videos multiple times.
Really That Good
Really That Good is a new series from long-time YouTuber MovieBob. In the announcement trailer, Bob takes issue with the “negativity, cynicism and snark” of shows like CinemaSins. He argues that by picking through films looking for flaws rather than enjoying the movie as a whole we’re at risk of not seeing the forest for the trees.
Yes, every film has problems, but does that stop it being a great film? Just because a film has been talked about to death, is stooped in nostalgia, and has some corners of the Internet dismissing it as “overrated”, doesn’t mean that it isn’t an amazing film that defined an era. Some films are really that good.
Instead, with a “Relentless Commitment to Positivity” Bob wants to “bring the joy back into being a movie fan” by digging into the bigger themes and ideas of some of the greatest films ever made. At the time of writing there are only two episodes out so far — one on Ghostbusters and another on Die Hard — and both are fantastic (just like the films that inspired them).
The episode on Die Hard explores a range of topics, from what action movies were like prior to its release, to the cultural context of when the film was made, from why John McClure defined an era of action heroes, to just how good the film actually was. I’ll admit it’s kind of annoying when someone, in a witty bout of originality says, “my favourite Christmas film is Die Hard”, but it doesn’t take anything away from the film itself.
It’s wonderful to see a show for movie fans that isn’t just reviewing movies or tearing them apart frame by frame. If you want an honest look at some great films, you need to keep an eye on Really That Good. I’m personally excited to see where Bob takes the show.
As much as MovieBob has a point about cynicism in movie reviews, it’s impossible to put together this list without including the Official Mystery Science Theater 3000 channel. Shows like CinemaSins all draw their inspiration from the groundwork laid by MST3K in the 1990s.
Set in the “not-too-distant-future”, in MST3K, mad scientists have sent Joel Robinson into space to endlessly watch bad B-movies in a convoluted plot for world domination. Joel builds four sentient robots to keep himself company. Together, they watch some of the worst movies ever made, cracking jokes as they do so. The results are hilarious.
While the TV show has been off air for more than 15 years, it now has an official YouTube channel that includes a number of full movies, with more being added all the time, from the 11 season run.
Just as Every Frame A Painting grants you a deeper understanding of what makes great films great, MST3K highlights all the ways a film can be terrible. If you’re interested in films, understanding what makes a bad one is just as illuminating as understanding what makes a great one. MST3K is also an important part of the history of film criticism and every true movie buff should watch at least a few episodes.
While Filmmaker IQ is meant as a resource for aspiring filmmakers, there is a lot of great content true movie fans will love. Mixed in with tutorials on recording audio for digital videos there are great videos that explore the history of popcorn and movie theaters and the evolution of acting theories.
Filmmaker IQ’s lesson on the “Psychology of Scary Movies” (embedded above) is the perfect example.
The video looks at what it is about horror movies that audiences find so fascinating. The content offers aspiring filmmakers an understanding of the considerations that go into making horror flicks, while also providing fans of movies with a deeper understanding of, and additional context to, the horror genre in general.
If you’re interested in any artform, checking out introductory educational resources is a great way to develop your understanding and appreciate the effort that goes into creating it. If you’re a fan of film, Filmmaker IQ is the perfect place to start.
If you’re a true lover of movies and want to understand how and why your favourite movies work, YouTube is a great place to start. With channels like Every Frame A Painting, MovieBob, Official MST3K and Filmmaker IQ you’re spoilt for choice.
Spend an afternoon watching a few videos from each of these four channels and you’ll never look at the films you see in the same way again. Whether it’s appreciating the film form, the broad themes involved, why it resonates with audiences, or the historical context of particular films, your movie-viewing experience will be immeasurably improved by the experience.
Are you a big fan of films? What great YouTube channels aimed at movie lovers have we missed off the list? Please let us know in the comments section below.
Image Credits: Clapboard via Shutterstock