‘The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed’ Had a Lot of People Looking at It

Joanna Arnow’s “The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed” is, among many other things, an impressively edited film, even though there aren’t a lot of whizz-bang transitions, tangents bouncing back and forth in time, or sharply atomized action stitched together into a crescendo. There isn’t even really a B story.

But “The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed” sets an even higher level of difficulty for itself. The film is a series of glimpses into the life of a millennial named Ann (Joanna Arnow) over the course of a year, dealing with no life-and-death issues but just life issues: a frustrating job, the quirks of her family, dating, and a set of BDSM relationships with doms across New York City.

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The structure of the film feels gentle and unabrasive. There’s a seasonal progression of the film’s chapters from spring to winter and back again. The chapters themselves are titled by the relationship that Ann is in during each of them. But each chapter is full of everything she has going on in her life, as well as a focused eye on all the mundanities that make all lives a little absurd. But constructing a story out of gently comedic scenes is hard.

Timing is essential in comedy, not just in every scene of Arnow’s film, but in the order of the scenes she presents of Ann’s life. And Arnow’s post process was, appropriately, a very detailed one. She shot a lot more than ended up in the finished film. “As a person making a comedy, I feel like it’s part of the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm to not leave people feeling like they wish it was shorter,” Arnow told IndieWire on the Filmmaker Toolkit podcast.

Arnow utilized feedback from rough cut screenings, which the “The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed” team did pretty often throughout the edit. “I really wanted to get a variety of people and perspectives, even though the screening room fit only about 10 or 12 or 13 people. But I would try and get some people who didn’t know me at all or weren’t familiar with my work — which is tricky being the person doing the inviting,” Arnow said.

It’s also essential because Arnow’s film is autofiction, taking inspiration from her real life. Arnow likes the label in order to be upfront about how much of the story is coming from her, “but the intent of this film isn’t to tell a truthful story. I’m not trying to portray my life or anyone in any accurate way,” Arnow said.

'The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed'
‘The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed’Ginsberg Libby

What matters is the emotional accuracy, whether it’s the expression on Ann’s face as she watches her mother and father perform a rendition of “Solidarity Forever” while on vacation or the perfectly composed long shot of Ann on a rooftop in a “fuck pig” suit, masturbating with bells on. In order to get at the issues of timing, emotion, and how each chapter vibed off the others, Arnow showed the film to friends, to college students at the New School, and to fellow members of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective.

“I like to keep it pretty basic, just asking people what was working, what was not working, what was boring, where they felt it was slow, what they might like to see more of,” Arnow said. “You can pay attention to the film more when you’ve seen it so many times with other bodies in the room. ”

Only some of those bodies need to be filmmakers, too. “Sometimes filmmakers just want to tell you how to make the film that they would want to make. Or maybe sometimes they like to show off their knowledge,” Arnow said. “But I was also really grateful for all the filmmaker feedback in the process. It took just a big variety of people.”

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