People can’t stop talking about ScreenPrism, the new website with a bingeable interactive YouTube channel for film and TV fans. What makes ScreenPrism so special is that the people behind it go into deeper analysis about popular TV shows to explain hidden meanings and talk about the stories, characters, lighting, costumes, cinematography, Easter Eggs, trivia, and symbolism in a fun and approachable way. This is different from everything else out there because it doesn’t merely provide synopses, gossip, or top 10 lists. This team goes into so much more detail to explain what really happened for those who want to look a little bit deeper but still have fun while learning something new.
Yale Professor, cinephile and sometime contributor, Marc Lapadula, Ph.D. shared his thoughts on the benefits of the site.
“ScreenPrism pulls from so many different areas. Its scope is incredibly varied and vast. There is something for everyone who wishes to look more deeply into great films and TV productions. Everyone comes away with a greater and richer understanding of the complexities of motion pictures from the creative to the historical to the technical aspects of the medium.”
One of the leading reasons for the existence of ScreenPrism is to offer fans of TV and movies information in an uncondescending way. Sometimes people watch a movie and wonder what just happened or think to themselves, “Did I miss something, or what really happened in the end of XYZ film?”
More than 80 videos currently live on the site with a few new posts added per week and about 1,800 articles. Many of the videos and articles come from questions that are brought to the ScreenPrism team from fans through Twitter or email. Fans are encouraged to contact ScreenPrism with any burning questions or comments.
Some of the fascinating videos about films include Get Out Explained: Symbols, Satire & Social Horror, The Godfather Explained: Cinematography of Shadows, Zootopia’s Deep Meaning: How We Talk to Kids, No Country for Old Men: Ending Explained, Who Is Wonder Woman: Her Origins, History & Impact, What’s So Great About Casablanca, American Psycho: Ending Explained, You Know You Are Watching a Christopher Nolan Film If, Is Ferris Bueller Imaginary, and many more.
Some of their most popular videos take a deeper, yet still cheeky and fun dive into the TV such as What’s So Great About Twin Peaks, A Series of Unfortunate Events: Incompetent Adults, House of Cards Explained: Shakespeare, History & Guilty Pleasure, Black Mirror Explained: A Shared Universe as well as many others.
Game of Thrones videos from ScreenPrism are the talk of the town and have been filling up water cooler conversations for a while now. Some of the GOT videos include Game of Thrones: Rhaeger Targaryen Character Study, Game of Thrones’ White Walkers: Who They Are & What They Represent, Game of Thrones Symbolism: Houses & The Starks, and the brand new Jamie Lannister: The Things He Does For Love.
Experts on film, television, literature, psychology, sociology, gender studies, and more have chimed in to participate and contribute commentary to the films and speak of ScreenPrism with affection and passion, and they appreciate that it is a great blend of scholarly, cool, and current content.
Professor for Middle Tennessee State University, Elyce Helford, Ph.D., has taught many classes on film and women’s studies courses, including a film noir course, and is currently working on a book on gender in the films of Hollywood studio director George Cukor. She is one of the experts called upon by ScreenPrism.
“I sought an outlet for film criticism beyond academic publications. I wanted to place my writing somewhere that melded investment in scholarly-type study but for a more popular audience,” said Dr. Helford. “The women who own and manage ScreenPrism are wonderful. Intelligent, articulate, and encouraging. I happily encouraged several of my PhD students to work with them on publishing for ScreenPrism and several did.”
ScreenPrism began in 2015 by President and CEO Debra Minoff and Chief Creative Officer Susannah McCullough, who first met while they were students at Yale University. They created the site because they wanted a place where TV and film fans could enjoy a deeper, scholarly analysis of their favorite shows and movies. In 2016, ScreenPrisim added their YouTube channel. However, the momentum took off nearer to the start of Season 7 Game of Thrones this summer.
Dr. Lapadula is huge fan of the site and their work.
“I’ve been teaching at Yale since 1992. The fact that an extremely brilliant and multi-talented former Yale film student of mine, Debra Minoff, had created ScreenPrism and another ferociously intellectual former Yale student, Susannah McCullough, is running it with her made me want to get involved from the get-go. Debra and Susannah are two extraordinary people. Their energy seems limitless. They each embody a love for film that is so extensive, wide-ranging and passionate that when they asked me to be a part of ScreenPrism, I had to say, ‘Yes!'” said Dr. Lapadula.
However, non-academics and fans of the site celebrate ScreenPrism in the comments and are actively asking for more.
Debra Minoff and Susannah McCullough spoke with Michelle Tompkins for the Inquisitr in-depth about ScreenPrism, who already loves it, who will love it, what makes it different, how fans should connect with them, what the plans are for the future, and more.
What is ScreenPrism?
ScreenPrism is the definitive source for film and TV explanations and analysis. We create entertaining video essays exploring popular movies and TV shows — hidden symbols, underlying meanings, and deeper context about what people are watching. We distribute our content through ScreenPrism.com, our fast-growing YouTube Channel, social media platforms, and in movie theater pre-shows across the country. We’re a leading voice in the burgeoning ecosystem of post-viewing conversation and engagement online.
How is it different from other film sites?
We look at the deeper meaning of a film or TV show, finding the unique and most interesting elements, while other films sites focus mainly on general reviews, entertainment news, or celebrity gossip, We explore and illuminate the messages that the writers, directors, and producers are trying to convey and how the camera work, lighting, or sound is so special. There is no one out there doing what we’re doing with the same scale, passion, and level of thought in such an entertaining way. We’re making the information you might learn in a university film studies course accessible to a broader audience.
What makes it special?
Audiences today are watching more content than ever; they’re savvier and think deeply about what they watch. After the show or movie is over, they want to engage, discuss, and connect with others online about what they’ve seen. We ignite that conversation and offer a destination for this connection.
We also add another layer of entertainment that offers a new stage of enjoyment. So you’re sad that the movie or show is over for now, but you then get to watch a ScreenPrism video and extend your viewing pleasure. We’re enriching the viewing experience by illuminating what might not have been clear, adding extra context, or putting into words what people feel but can’t quite articulate on first viewing.
We bring our own expertise in film and visual storytelling, along with our network of professors, writers, researchers, and collaborators, to offer viewers a definitive authority on these subjects. So the next time you watch something and it’s still on your mind, you can come to ScreenPrism to clarify any questions you have about it, and develop a stronger understanding and knowledge of film, TV, and visual mediums.
So much of our world today revolves around visual storytelling, but we don’t learn about visual language in school the way that we learn verbal language. At ScreenPrism, we talk about reading the frame of a movie the way that you’d read a page in a book. There’s a grammar. There’s intention, and there are clear messages in every framing, lighting, and editing choice. If a character is lit from above, from below, or from the side, what is this telling us about this person’s virtue, whether we should trust them, how the storytellers want us to feel about this person? Is the camera immersive and handheld like we’re there and part of the experience, or is it neatly stylized and composed, creating an intellectual distance so that we can think about what we’re observing from the outside? All of these stylistic choices are a huge part of everything that we watch — from cinema to Netflix to a commercial — and the more we understand how these techniques work on us, the more we become active viewers who get the most out of our viewing experience and are in control of how images affect us.
How did you get the idea for it?
We would often walk out of a movie theater or finish a TV show and immediately want to know more about what we just watched. Sometimes there was a specific question like which characters in Titanic were real people and other times it was something more interpretive like what does Winter symbolize in Game of Thrones. We would try searching Google for answers, but there was usually nothing to find and certainly nothing we trusted. We both studied film at Yale and understood how much the viewing experience could be enriched by a deeper examination of the content. We believe there are a lot of other curious people like us who wanted to know more, so we set out to build the definitive source for analysis and explanations that could provide this deeper context in an entertaining way.
When did it officially begin?
The site launched in February of 2015 in article format, and we launched our YouTube channel in the summer of 2016.
What has the feedback been so far?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Our YouTube channel is on the verge of crossing 100,000 subscribers, and our view counts and watch time are growing exponentially. We’re growing by leaps and bounds month over month. We have an amazing community of followers who encourage us to produce more and provide feedback on new topics they would like to learn more about.
How do people learn about it?
Most people discover us through YouTube’s recommendation algorithm and search, however, we encourage you to go to our YouTube channel and binge all of our videos!
Who would benefit from ScreenPrism?
We believe anyone who watches movies or TV shows and has a curious mind can benefit from our content. Our most active audience members are often film buffs or self-professed movie and TV enthusiasts who just love the medium like we do. We cover such a broad range of material — from classic movies to Game of Thrones or Star Wars — that there’s something for everyone. Our vision is to make film and TV conversation and analysis accessible to everyone.
Which topics do you cover?
Hidden symbols, director profiles, what’s great about a classic, breakdowns of key elements, the symbolism of film techniques (like lighting, camera or sound), confusing endings, character studies, origin stories, and fun trivia or Easter Eggs.
Is there any kind of topic you don’t wish to cover on the site?
We’re not about celebrity gossip, generic listicles, or industry news. We feel there’s enough of that content out there, and what’s missing is the trusted analysis and insight.
Which topics are the most popular?
We have an extremely popular Game of Thrones series, exploring the symbolism of the house sigils and giving extra background on mysteries hinted at in the show. People also love our videos on today’s great or more challenging movies and shows that make you think, like Moonlight, Get Out, Twin Peaks, The Walking Dead, or Black Mirror. Our community loves to debate different theories around our Endings Explained series, or take deeper dives into filmmaking in our Under The Hood and Director Profiles series.
What are some topics that you wish to cover?
In addition to newer shows and movies, we aim to cover all of the top film and TV classics (think: Citizen Kane, Rear Window, The Shining) to help people understand why they are considered great and why they’re still relevant. We also want to apply intelligent thought to movies that people have loved for decades, like Steven Spielberg and John Hughes classics.
Is there a place where people can contact you and ask for a deep dive into a specific topic?
Absolutely! Please tweet at us at @screenprism or write to us at email@example.com. We welcome questions about film and TV, and we do our best to answer. The best questions we receive often inspire us to make awesome videos for you.
What are some of the coolest questions your team has been asked so far?
What are the hidden symbols in Game of Thrones and the deeper meanings of the various houses? One quirky question that got asked to us a lot was “Who is the man in the bear costume in The Shining?”
How do you find your experts?
Some of our favorite film professors come from our days at Yale. We draw on a strong network of film professionals from our experience in film production. Apart from the people we’ve met along the way on the theory or production side of the industry, we find that people reach out to us because they relate to what we’re creating and want to find community and share knowledge of cinema in a fun, relevant way. We’ve met some fantastic academics and filmmakers, who are now friends, because they see what we’re doing and understand our vision.
Please tell me about your personal and professional backgrounds?
Susannah and Debra both went to Yale University, where they took a variety of courses in film production and theory. They reconnected later when Debra produced a short film that Susannah directed, the award-winning Hermit.
Prior to founding ScreenPrism, Debra worked in business and legal affairs for film and financial transactions for many years. She’s produced and executive produced several independent films, including serving as the executive producer of the award-winning feature film The Automatic Hate, which premiered at SXSW and producing the short film Hermit. She practiced law at the leading entertainment law firm Loeb & Loeb LLP and Sidley Austin LLP.
Debra received her J.D. from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law with a concentration in intellectual property, where she was a Dean’s Scholar and served as an editor of the Arts & Entertainment Law Journal. She graduated with honors from Yale University with a B.A. in Film Studies & American Studies. She also helped co-found Yale’s first television station, YTV.
Prior to joining ScreenPrism, Susannah spent five years working as a director and editor in film production in London. She wrote and directed several award-winning shorts, including Hermit, that were selected for more than 20 international film festivals. She has worked at Working Title, Pansophy Productions, Thompson Granger Films, and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment. She graduated with honors from Yale University and London’s Met Film School at Ealing Studios.
What are your roles in business?
Debra Minoff is the president and CEO. Susannah McCullough is chief creative officer. As co-founders, we work together to create and develop our original, entertaining video essays.
How big is your team? Staff, freelancers, etc.?
We have a small core team of about four to five people and a broad network of talented partners, freelance writers, professors, editors, and collaborators.
What are your goals for ScreenPrism?
We want to be the definitive destination for people to discuss or learn about what they’re watching. We aspire to continue helping activate movie and TV viewers and to build a deep, thoughtful community around the visual storytelling that plays such a key role in our lives. We want to share our love of film and TV with others, captivating audiences with our visual analysis and activating film and TV fan communities to think deeper and enjoy what they watch even more.
What is something you want people to know about ScreenPrism?
We’re passionate about visual stories, and we think that the movies and shows people watch impact all of us on a far greater and more important scale than most often realize. The stories we absorb shape the stories we tell ourselves about our own lives, reflect our culture, and the way we approach the world. So it’s important to think about what these stories are and what’s behind them.
Dr. Helford chimed in, “Fans of this site are not limited to academics and film scholars—regular people just wanting more information enjoy browsing their videos.”
[Featured Image by HBO]