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in Filmmaking
on Jan 8, 2007

Christopher Stack, who is finishing his film An Exercise in Vigilance and who replied on the Sundance post below, blogs over at Deep Structure. I just checked out his blog for the first time and like this post from back in August on what Stack calls ADDI:


it’s a term a friend and i coined to describe films that don’t bore me.

add (attention deficit disorder for those of you living under a rock) + intelligence.

the film not only has to move quickly, but it has to do so with intelligence, not wasting time on explaining the obvious or even the not-so-obvious. quick editing and moving pictures aren’t enough, i have to be engaged intellectually as well. preferably both intellectually and emotionally. however i can deal with intellectual stimulation without the emotional, but not vice-versa.

combine that standard with idiosyncratic likes and dislikes and you end up with a person with a fairly low enjoyment rate of most entertainment. however, it never ceases to amaze me how severely films fail this personal certification.

for instance, today i tried to watch ‘cache.’ (don’t worry, no spoilers here).

i tried watching the film for the first 20 minutes or so. and definitely there are cultural differences (french films have no problem showing real conversations, no matter how boring), but really, the set-up here could have been done in *much* less time.

after the first twenty minutes my add kicked in and i switched into addi-compensation mode: watching on 2x fast-forward with subtitles on. i’d go faster, but subtitles on my dvd player only display up to 2x. anything after that they don’t bother (like i can’t read that fast?? please).

even that wasn’t enough. it’s not just the slow pace that doesn’t make sense in this film. it’s the character choices. for example, for no reason the main character doesn’t want to tell his wife what he’s thinking. there’s a whole scene in which she berates him for this. who cares? it’s a dumb choice, frustrating to watch and doesn’t do anything for the story, and it’s a lame device that sets up the main character to visit a location alone, instead of with help as his wife suggests.

eventually i progressed to just jumping foward to the next indexed scene after watching the current one briefly, and then gave up a litte after the one hour mark….

the bottom line is information. im sure it’s not just me. we’ve all grown up in a media-saturated environment where information is instantaneous and omnipresent. playing videos games, using the web, watching tv, films, music videos, commercials and comic books; we know how to absorb visual information incredibly quickly. so if you linger too long on a scene or show me superfluous detail, im already bored.

plus, we’ve seen every story numerous times. it’s hard to do something original, but if you can’t do something original at least do it quickly!

…i guess then that it’s no surprise my favorite film of last year was syrianna. definitely ADDI-compliant!

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