Pause of the Clock

Tomorrow evening I’ll be taking a look at the not-quite-finished rough cut of my not-quite-finished would-be feature film debut, Pause of the Clock. I wrote and directed it. We shot the film in 1995 and 1996, in pre-gentrified Logan Square, Edgewater and Colorado. Wild college years when I aimed for the moon because I wasn’t old enough to know how wacked-out the whole enterprise was. I raised about $6000 to finance the production, and to this day I still don’t know how I did it. I do know that it would be a hell of a lot harder to do now.

It was inspired by a Lorca poem. The story, such as it is, centers on a group of college friends who are making a movie called Crueler Than Truth. The roommate of the filmmaker chances upon his diary and begins reading it. He begins to imagine himself as the filmmaker. Eventually the film-within-the-film becomes less important, taken over by the clash between the imagined world contained in the diary and the real world. The soundtrack includes Pete Seeger and Kill Hannah. KH is on there because an acquaintance from college, Alan Morgenstern, was in the band at the time and there was a remix of theirs I liked a lot. Alan asked Andy from KH if I could use it in the movie and he said, “Sure.”

We shot in 16mm and recorded the sound using 1/4″ tape on a Nagra, two methods which (for good or bad) border on being obselete now. A 16mm workprint was created and the sound transferred to 16mm mag stock. I edited on a 6-plate flatbed, one picture track and two soundtracks (one for location sound, another for music/voiceover); and so thus the whole thing only exists at the moment in completely analog form.

I haven’t looked at any of it since 1999. That was the last time I has access to the “ancient” equipment necessary to do so. Well, through a few connections at Columbia I discovered that they still have a working 6-plate, so that’s where I’ll be tomorrow. The main point of rewatching it tomorrow night, aside from nostagia, is to help me decide if I want to try finishing the movie or if it’s best to just chalk it up to collegiate hubris and leave it at that.

It’s going to be a huge deal if I decide to go for it. The good news is that all the original camera negatives and location sound recordings appear to be in fine shape, pristine, which is kind of startling when you consider how much they’ve been schlepped around since 1995. The bad news is that aside from some carbons of the camera reports I haven’t been able to put my hands on any of the other supporting documentation. I can’t find the location sound logs or even my copies of the shooting scripts. So that will mean a lot of detective work.

The biggest challenge will be the editing. First everything will need to be digitized. I’ll either have to learn Final Cut Pro or find an editor I can really trust. Either one is a pretty tall order.

First things first though: I’m just excited to see it again.

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