Chicagoist Writer Nears Completion On 20-Year Film Project

By Joel Wicklund in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 20, 2015 9:30PM

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© Rob Christopher.
It makes perfect sense that Chicagoist writer Rob Christopher would pick Boyhood as his top film of last year, as it's clear the passage of time has been very much on his mind recently. Christopher is editing and preparing for other post-production work on a new feature film, Pause of the Clock.

Only this new film is already over 18 years old.

Written while he was a 19-year-old film student at Columbia College, Pause of the Clock was shot on 16mm film in Chicago and Colorado between January 1995 and May 1996. Principal shooting was completed, but as Christopher writes on the project's Kickstarter page, "And then, basically, the film sat in my closet for the next 18 years."

Asked why he let the footage sit so long, Christopher told me, "By the time we finished shooting, I was very disillusioned by all the compromises I'd had to make, and couldn't see the forest for the trees really. I didn't know what to make of the footage I had."

Life, as it's been known to do, also stepped in with other things, including an active writing career. His book, Queue Tips: Discovering Your Next Great Movie, was well-received by film lovers, and his contributions to this site, American Libraries, Booklist, CINE-FILE and other outlets kept him more than busy enough. But Pause of the Clock kept gnawing at him. He decided he wanted to finish it for himself and for the people who worked on it with him. Yet as he revisited his highly personal examination of relationships, he also realized he could not finish the movie as if it was still 1996.

"It's made up of elements and moods from my early 20s, but put together with the perspective that comes from being 20 years older. It's certainly a much better film than I ever could have made back then, yet were I starting completely from scratch now, there's no way I would or could make Pause of the Clock today. It's that sort of conversation across the decades that has really interested me, now, as I finish the film."

However, finishing a movie in 2015 is a very different beast than it was in the mid-'90s. Finding facilities and equipment to work with the original 16mm elements and 1/4" analog sound reels would be difficult enough, but even if Christopher completed the film that way, where would it be shown in the digital age?

He decided he needed to transfer all the original materials to digital formats. While he handled the costs of that himself, he knew there was a lot more work to do: color and sound correction, a DCP (Digital Cinema Package) presentation so it can be shown in theaters with modern projection systems, entry fees for film festivals, press and publicity materials, and other costly necessities. So Pause of the Clock is now a Kickstarter project with a Feb. 26 deadline to meet its fundraising goal.

Christopher calls the movie "a living time capsule," with something to say about how things have changed over nearly 20 years. With music by Kill Hannah and Royale, and shots of a Chicago that has transformed considerably, there's certain to be plenty of cultural signifiers to attract local interest.

Go to the Pause of the Clock Kickstarter page for more details on the film and rewards available to contributors. You can also keep up with Rob on Twitter and at RandomCha, where he frequently posts his entertaining "3 Things About" movie musings.