My film is a living time capsule.
On November 1, 1994 I finished writing the first draft of a screenplay called “Pause of the Clock." I was a 19-year-old film student at Columbia College in Chicago. I showed the screenplay to some faculty advisors and friends, then started fundraising and assembling a cast and crew. In January 1995, using 16mm film equipment from various colleges and rental houses, we started shooting the film in Colorado. Filming would continue in Chicago, in fits and starts, over the next year. Finally on May 19, 1996 we shot the last scene.
And then, basically, the film sat in my closet for the next 18 years. Paused.
Pause of the Clock is a film about friendship, secrets, and the power of stories. Rob, a college student, gathers together a group of friends to make a film called "Crueler Than Truth." Among them is his roommate Dylan. Unbeknownst to Rob, Dylan discovers his diary and begins reading it. The Rob he discovers in its pages is a much different person than the friend he thought he knew.
Their evolving interaction meshes with the “film within the film,” leading to a surprising conclusion.
Why unpause the film now?
By the time we finally finished shooting, and I’d recorded some voiceover tracks to layer onto a rough cut of the film, I was in my final semester. I graduated from Columbia College in 1997, and like every other graduate it was suddenly time to try and make a living. Almost without me realizing it, Pause of the Clock fell by the wayside as I moved on to other projects and interests.
Over the years I’d occasionally pull it out, take a look at it for old time’s sake, and then put it away again. Souvenirs from the past. Meanwhile, as digital filmmaking became the new normal, piece by piece the infrastructure for editing 16mm films began to crumble. It became increasingly difficult even to watch the footage. Last year it hit me that the original elements, including the 16mm negatives and ¼” analog sound reels, were at risk of deteriorating before I ever had the chance to make them into something. So I dipped into my savings and had the original camera negatives scanned at ultra-high resolution, digitized the sound reels, and started editing the film on my laptop. Perhaps there’d be something special in all that material.
As I began to string the shots together on my computer, something beautiful happened. The film spoke to me again. I began to see the real movie buried in the footage, and how I could shape the footage to bring that movie to light. I believe that Pause of the Clock is not simply a souvenir—it’s a message from the past about how our society has changed in 20 years, while also exploring those things about us and our relationships that technology can’t touch. A living time capsule.
For me, an important part of Pause of the Clock is to fully honor the period that the film captures, and the many people over the years who have worked on the project. By finishing it. After more than a year’s work, the editing of the film is nearly complete. I've tried to honor its original spirit while also making a much better film than I could have back in 1996. Along the way I've secured some wonderful music for the soundtrack, including tracks by Kill Hannah, Royale, and Steven Pate.
What makes this film unique?
It's a brand new film that was made 20 years ago.
We shot Pause of the Clock on film, in 16mm, a mode of filmmaking that’s nearly extinct; and we recorded the sound on location using a Nagra 4.2, a specialized sound recorder which uses analog ¼” tape. Though this filmmaking technology is now considered “obsolete,” it actually contributes a wonderfully unique texture to the sound and image that comes through even in the test clips above. It’s a million miles away from the harsh, antiseptic digital atmosphere typical of many movies today. I believe it’s something special.
Without being flamboyant the movie also preserves a slice of time that’s vanished: the America of the mid-1990s. Many scenes offer views of a pre-gentrified Logan Square, just before it became one of Chicago’s trendiest neighborhoods. The struggle to communicate and connect is one of the themes at the heart of the film, and the relative absence of technology onscreen clarifies things. There are no computers in Pause of the Clock, no social media and no cell phones.
Simple: when this project is fully funded, I’ll be able to complete the film! The current “fine cut,” including end credits, is approximately 80 minutes long. Pause of the Clock is in the final stretch, and I’m asking for your help to get it over the finish line. Specifically, your pledge will go towards:
COLOR CORRECTION ($5000): A highly skilled technician known as a colorist will collaborate with me to ensure that every frame looks just as it should, bringing to life the bold colors we were aiming for while respecting the “grain” of the original 16mm footage. (Trivia: we used a combination of Kodak, Fuji, and Agfa filmstock.) The mid-1990s vibe of the footage ensures that Pause of the Clock will look like no other indie feature being made today.
SOUND DESIGN ($3500): We all worked very hard during shooting to ensure that the “live” sound we recorded would be useable in the final film. Sound designer Matt Trifilo and I will take that location sound and combine it with various narration and sound effects tracks to produce a soundtrack that’s a feast for the ears. And naturally we’ll be paying special attention to the amazing music by Kill Hannah, Royale, and Steven Pate that’s featured in the film.
FINAL OUTPUT ($2500): When the film has been timed and mixed and is finally ready to watch, we’ll export the master digital file into various file formats. It’ll be uploaded to Vimeo (and available to stream if you’re a funder who’s pledged at least $25!), and exported as a “digital print” called a DCP that can be projected in theaters. DVDs will also be produced for preview purposes. Stretch goal: Should I exceed my initial funding goal of $15,000, I’ll be able to create a final 16mm film print, enabling me to show the film as a film, exactly as we intended.
FILM FESTIVALS ($2300): Part of the funding for this project will go towards entering Pause of the Clock into various film festivals, covering the costs of entry fees, DVD screeners, press kits, and so forth. I’m not going to divulge the secrets of my festival strategy here, but everyone who pledges will receive project updates as the film makes its way around the world!
KICKSTARTER FEES/PLEDGE INCENTIVES OVERHEAD ($1700): Kickstarter charges a fee for all projects which are successfully funded, which I’ve accounted for. And as you can see from the list on the right, there are many cool incentives awaiting you as a bonus for helping me finish the film; a very small portion of my total funding will go towards fulfillment of these incentives.
Meet the Filmmakers
Rob Christopher (writer/director/producer/actor) graduated from Columbia College in 1997. He co-edited Tchavdar Georgiev’s Kosher Messiah, a personal documentary about anti-Semitism in the former Soviet Union. He served as a features/documentaries programmer for the 29th Reeling Film Festival. He has written about film, cocktails, and sundry other Chicago topics for the website Chicagoist since 2006. Author of the books 100 Spinning Plates and Queue Tips: Discovering Your Next Great Movie, he has also written articles for such publications as the Chicago Reader and American Libraries, and wrote the introduction to the young adult edition of Sad Stories of the Death of Kings, by Barry Gifford. An active contributor to CINE-FILE, an independent cineaste web resource, he is currently working on a project titled 3 Things about 1000 Movies. He lives in Chicago.
Tchavdar Georgiev (cinematographer/actor) graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1997, and later received an MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. An Emmy-nominated producer, director, and editor, he has crafted award-winning films, commercials, and television both in the US and abroad. His many projects include The Desert of Forbidden Art (co-written, produced, and edited with Amanda Pope), which won multiple film festival awards and premiered on PBS’ Independent Lens; Nevsky Prospect, a feature-length thriller which he produced for Amazon Studios, a division of amazon.com; and Finders Keepers (co-editor), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. He lives in Los Angeles.
Dylan Lorenz (sound recordist/boom operator/actor) graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1997. His film 120 over 60, which he wrote and directed, was a Student Academy Awards finalist. He has worked as a video editor and multimedia producer in New York since 2002. He lives in Brooklyn, and is currently pursuing an MA in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation at NYU.
Phil Jones (sound recordist/actor) graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1997. He has worked as a wood carver and designer, and has taught fine art at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri for eight years.
Matt Trifilo (sound designer) has contributed sound design and post-production audio to numerous projects, including commercials for Intel, Wrangler, Nike, Hammer Bowling, TableCraft, FLOW Snowboarding, and films such as Where the Buffalo Roam and Oconomowoc.
Lamar Holley (assistant director/actor) attended the University of Colorado, Boulder. In addition to teaching elementary school for many years, he has released several albums of music, including Confessions of a College Student and The Color of Day. He lives in Utah.
Gavin Mayer (actor) taught high school theater for many years, and directed the high school world premiere of The Laramie Project. He is currently a resident director at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities in Colorado, where he has directed such productions as Disney’s Tarzan, The Great Gatsby, Curtains, and Legally Blonde.
Lesley Walbridge (actor) attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania where she received a BA in Russian Linguistics. Though she's enjoyed many adventures in Russia and around the world, she still considers home to be the best place of all. She currently lives in Golden, Colorado.
Scot P. Livingston (actor) attended Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. A songwriter and musician, he has played in or founded several bands, including The Phlegmtones, The Inactivists (named one of Denver’s 100 Best Bands by Westword), and Milkshake5. He lives in Arvada, Colorado.
DC Vito (production assistant/actor) studied International Affairs and Geography at the University of Colorado, Boulder, graduating in 1997. After positions at ConEd and RCN Metro Optical Networks, he co-founded The LAMP (Learning About Multimedia Project) in 2007. Since that time, The LAMP has brought media literacy training to over 2,500 youth, parents and educators, transporting equipment and facilitators directly to communities in need of its services. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.Kay Krasin (actor) is an artist, musician, writer, and actor. She lives in Austin, Texas.
Risks and challenges
Needless to say, when you’ve been working on a film off and on for 20 years you can’t help but ask yourself, “Am I ever going to finish this thing?” The answer is yes. Through the generosity of friends, family, and other filmmakers who’ve believed it would make a great film, I’ve come this far. And I’m not about to pause the project again. With your assistance this film will finally be completed. Once it's finished, there are of course no guarantees that it will make a huge splash. That’s the risk. Yet I believe the very essence of the film gives it a head start in today’s cinematic landscape. Shot 20 years ago on 16mm, it captures the look and feeling of a specific moment in time in a way that will be fascinating to viewers.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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