Pause of the Clock

Pause of the Clock begins with a scene showing the filming of a scene of the movie within the movie that threads throughout the film. Opening the film this way so quickly removes you from worrying about following any plot, you are able to settle into the rhythm of the film rather than the story beats and appreciate the mood, settings, and moments of the film in a way that wouldn’t be possible if you were worrying about what’s going to happen next. Pause of the Clock is a film in which what happens next matters much, much less than what happened last.

Pause of the Clock was filmed in 1995 and 1996, but the 16mm footage sat relatively untouched in writer/director Rob Christopher’s possession for the next twenty years. Watching the film stock degrade with time, he decided to do what he had to do to make something of the film. Pause of the Clock is the result.

Pause of the Clock is premiering at the 38th Denver Film Festival this coming weekend, November 7–9. It’s the kind of film that shines in a festival setting, because it’s as more about the power and mystery of movies that it is about entertaining you. If you are in the Denver area this weekend and you love cinema, try to see it.

Given that the film was written and shot twenty years ago and edited together recently, Pause of the Clock features a dialogue of sorts between the script and footage and the editing. Whatever the movie was supposed to be when it was committed to film, it is now retrospective. It captures these young men and women in their late teens and early twenties in that moment of their lives, and it explores their questions and concerns about the world at that time. The script and footage say, “These are the things that matter most in life!” and the editing says, “These are the things that most concerned us in life then. How curious.”

I suppose, since the filmmakers saw value in completing this film, those things still matter to them, but with somewhat less urgency. When you are young, you think answering life’s big questions about meaning and purpose and God and love matters more than anything; as you get older, you realize that what matters is asking the questions. You can only gain that kind of wisdom through time. The period of time between filming in the mid-90s and the completion of the film recently is the pause that was necessary to gain that perspective, and the cameras weren’t rolling in the intervening years.

Of course, now we have cameras rolling all the time in one form or another. As I watched Pause of the Clock’s credits, a name I saw listed there reminded me of a friend I haven’t talked to in a while. So, I pulled up Facebook on my computer, navigated to that friend’s page, and scrolled through her pictures. I saw where she is in life now, scrolled down to the period when we lived in the same place and hung out a lot, and then scrolled past that to a time before we knew each other. The last fifteen years of her life passed beneath my fingers, and I realized I could do the same for anyone in my circle of friends, family, and acquaintances.

I could do the same with myself, so I did. As I scrolled through my own history and saw younger versions of me, I had to decide whether to view younger me with criticism or compassion. I opted to give my younger self grace, because I felt like that’s what Pause of the Clock does for all the young people captured in it. In total, in the conversation between the past and the present, Pause of the Clock says, “This is who we were, and that’s okay, because if we weren’t those people, we wouldn’t be who we are today.”

Pause of the Clock is being featured in the 38th annual Denver Film Festival. Find more information and showtimes here.