Maya Beiman is a student at the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television at Tel Aviv University. This video was created as part of a videographic criticism workshop taught by Ariel Avissar. Originally published in Notes on Videographic Criticism on May 1, 2020.
Is this the first video essay you have ever made? If so, how did you find the process? Was there a breakthrough moment or something that surprised you?
“In Her Own Words” was my final project in this course, and it’s the first video essay I’ve created from scratch – from conceiving the idea to the video publication. It was a very challenging process for me. Personally, I usually go into projects very “goal oriented”, but this time I took my professor’s advice and started from collecting the materials, which in turn gave me inspiration. Looking back, I don’t think I could have done it any other way. I mean, it’s hard for me to imagine it’s possible to create a video essay when you have a very clear template for it in advance. In my opinion, searching and forming the video’s statement as you go is an inherent part of the process.
What drew you to Meryl Streep?
Meryl Streep has always been my favorite actress. How many more people would probably say the same? A lot. This is what’s interesting about Meryl Streep - she is exceptional and undoubtably talented but also very relatable. Alongside her unique intelligence and emotional sensitivity, she is exceptionally versatile. She manages to naturally slip into any genre - comedy, thrillers and even musicals. What’s so remarkable about it is that she manages to do it not only on screen, but also in her personal life. Streep can go from serious, influential statements to humorous and graceful ones, making it very hard to resist her charm.
What is one part of the video you're particularly proud of?
I think one of the things that makes this video relatable and touching is the composition of the different shots, which is actually a composition of imageries. I tried to create a flow, which allows the viewer to dive into Streep’s life and career. If there’s something I’m especially proud of in this essay, it is the harmony between the text and the image, between the statement and the emotion. This is what makes this video emotional and touching.
The piece was brilliantly edited and the voiceover and music blended together so well. What was this process like and do you have any tips for people who may want to make a similar video?
In my essay I tried not only to tell Meryl’s story, but make the viewer feel her story too. Combining her “life soundtrack”, in which she describes her guidelines as an artist and a creator, and close-ups where she manages to express emotions without words, I tried to emphasize how unique and powerful she is. The creation process began with collecting materials and conducting a thorough research. From the visuals and the audio, I’ve learned Streep’s ability to control and express emotion. I listened to her powerful words and learned about the powerful connection between these two elements. For example, I decided to eliminate almost all of the shots where she was speaking, and chose to mostly concentrate on close-ups where she stared right at the camera, with no words. Moreover, I shortened the video by almost 50 percent from its original form. I edited the materials at least twenty times, each time helped me to make it more precise. One thing that helped me during this process is consulting and playing with the materials, creating sketches and asking for advice. Each new perspective affected the final outcome.