How do we slow down time? Effie Pappa's stop motion film has some answers
Reflecting on our relationship with the clock, the director's new film reminds us to slow down a little and enjoy the smaller, in-between moments.
- 20 April 2023
- Joey Levenson
Ever since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the passing of time has been at the forefront of all our minds. How do we learn to really slow down? Alternatively, do we know when to speed up? Such questions float around Greek director Effie Pappa’s dizzying and beautifully meticulous stop motion flick In-Between. “The film is derived from my relationship with time and the everyday struggle to win the clock ticking,” Effie tells It’s Nice That. “It’s crazy how fast things are going and the frenetic way we are trying to do life, moving from one task to the other and doing things the fastest way possible.” This ‘stopwatch’ effect unravels in spectacular fashion with the stop motion, leading various characters to make tough (though menial) decisions that disrupt the equilibrium of their life. “Even the way we breathe and eat has become faster with serious health consequences,” Effie adds. “I sometimes wonder where’s the worth to that and that’s why I use the hearse in the film, in front of the bus.”
Taking inspiration from her own house in Athens, Effie wanted to juxtapose a cemetery that runs perpendicular to that of “a very busy highway where cars and motorbikes run like maniacs, beeping and accelerating”. It’s this exploration into the interstice of time between life and death that forms the film’s title, In-Between. “I often think about how it would be if we slow down a little and create the ‘in-between’ moments where we could observe more, think better, talk deeper, and allow ourselves to have more joyful surprising moments,” the director explains.
Although the film focuses on varying ‘human’ (so to speak) characters, Effie points out that the real protagonist “is time”. While actions in the film are repeated the same way throughout the film (alarm clock ringing, heating breakfast up, running for the bus, etc.), it’s the editing which accordingly represents the time. “The editing dictates the rhythm of these repeated actions, in a way that it doesn’t allow any time for the characters to do what they want and need,” Effie explains. “Edit and sound played an integral role in expressing the idea that we all chase the clock ticks.” Atop of the editing and sound, a lot of the film required small-scale miniature prop building to effectively build the world. “All the food inside the fridge are my favourite props,” Effie says. “The meat is made out of clay, ham out of polymer clay, lettuce out of paper, and they really look so real you want to eat them.”
Taking one year to make with 3D resin puppets, and an average of eight seconds of animation shot per day, this really was a labor of love for Effie and the team. “This is part of the nature and charm of the stop motion technique which ironically expresses perfectly the core messages of the film in a self-referential way,” Effie says. “We worked with specific angles, a static camera, and compositions that don’t allow much breathing room inside the frame. The setting could be anywhere, much like different cities you go to and you have the same chain of fast foods, same-looking streets, and architecture that just functions, without much identity.”
The film’s stunningly detailed depiction of its characters' lives, and the passing of time, garnered much attention when it toured the film festival circuit. As a result, film juggernauts MUBI acquired the film and have since been screening it on their platform for all to see.
Effie Pappa: In-Between (Copyright @ Effie Pappa, 2023)
About the Author
Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.