I’ve been watching a lot of older movies recently. Partially for the Cinematic Study Guide that I’ve been doing and then there was that 24-hour Sci-Fi festival we went to. It’s just amazing how quickly movie pacing has changed. It used to be perfectly acceptable to have long quiet buildups in movies. Sure, independent films still have a go at the contemplative build, but mostly it makes me feel like the filmmaker doesn’t know how to move their story forward. I know people who love it, but I mostly sit in those kinds of movies feeling like my time is being wasted.
I think the internet is partially to blame for that too. One of the tenets of filmmaking back when I was in film school was to establish your story in the first 11 minutes. The internet video rule of thumb is to explain what you’re about in the first 10 seconds. That’s why vlogs, viral videos, reviews, and sketches have a better shot on YouTube than any web series. Most people making web series are following the old school traditions of pacing and tone, people sitting at a computer want to be entertained immediately, and if you can’t do it, they can sure as hell find something else that can right now. This second. That’s why episode 5, part 1 of Platoon of Power Squadron makes a better intro to the show than anything else. It emulates a familiar superhero conceit, it’s moving right away, and it barely slows down the whole time. New information piling on top of new information. That seems to be how the internet likes its info. Immediately and lots.
So pacing is at a weird place right now, people making shows or short films for the internet want to move at a film and TV pace, but the internet doesn’t like to move that slowly. 10 seconds. I suppose that’s like the old adage for beginning a novel: You have to hook them with your first line. That’s why so many of the smash hit internet short films are plays on video games. You buy yourself more than 10 seconds if people are already invested in your concept.
Thanks for reading.