Production-Now.com Media Production Mentoring

Online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.

1.21.2010

Attention Spans

I watch many movies with my finger on the fast forward button. I didn't used to, but at some point a couple years ago I discovered that many filmmakers just couldn't seem to get to their point fast enough. Rather than waste my time waiting for them to get around to progressing their tale, I could help them with a simple press of a button.

Some movies are so bad I even start skipping scenes. I think one two and half hour movie took me three minutes to get through.

I don't suffer boredom well when it's inflicted by people who can't do their job.

On the other hand, I completely disagree with the seemingly common idea that "kids these days" have short attention spans brought on by the evils of MTV's "quick cutting." I don't buy it for a minute.

Why?

Sure, kids aren't going to sit through the forty-five minutes of floating spaceships and classical music in 2001: A Space Odyssey... but why should they? That opening hour is nothing more than Kubrick showing off. He certainly isn't telling a story.

And while we may not have the patience for the slower pace of older movies, we'll happily sit through a Lord of the Rings Extended Edition marathon. We may not want to waste 120 minutes on a movie that, with modern editing and a more advanced film audience, could have been over in under and hour. But we'll happily while away hours upon end in catching up on our latest favorite TV show.

So, no, we've not lost our ability to keep our attention focused for long periods of time. Rather, we're just more astute when it comes to recognizing an older form of storytelling that progresses at a rate fit for an audience that no longer exists. Back in the day, editors believed that for an audience to follow the action every single step must be carried out. We must stop the car, get out, close the door, walk up the steps, open the door, walk in and then--and only then--cut to the party inside.

But no more.

We get it. If you were seen exiting your house in the previous shot, we know you traveled to the party.

The modern audience isn't plagued by short attention deficit disorder. No, we're just more savvy and no longer suffer pointless footage gladly.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

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