Darren Aronofsky’s Micro-Budget Short Film: No Time

Aronofsky’s fourth short from this era– 1994’s NO TIME — appears to have been made after his graduation from AFI, and adopts the brazen Generation X attitude that marked pop culture in the 90’s.  At first glance, the film appears to be a slacker riff on improv comedy shows, anchored by a quartet of young actors playing various characters across several vignettes.

Shot by Matthew Libatique on color 16mm film, NO TIME resembles the style of FORTUNE COOKIE with its super-broad humor and moronic fart jokes that seem at odds with the darkly cerebral character of Aronofsky’s future professional work.  The visual style plays fast and loose with the rules of composition, frequently opting for close-ups that are almost claustrophobic in their nature.  It’s unclear exactly what Aronofsky was trying to achieve with NO TIME, unless he was trying to get this particular style of filmmaking out of his system early on.

Any director’s student films have a strong chance of bearing no resemblance to their professional counterparts.  After all, that’s the nature of film school– to experiment, to feel out, to play in the pursuit of establishing one’s particular voice.  Aronofsky’s professional style is so distinct and singularly his, however, that this quartet of early shorts really does leave one surprised as to how little they predict the unique artistic voice we’ve since come to cherish and anticipate.

Nevertheless, these first efforts constitute a crucial training ground for Aronofsky, and their creation within the confines of the formalized film education system provides him with vital resources and collaborators that would carry him towards professional success in the long-term.  In the short-term, these same resources would give him the confidence necessary to take that first step: the creation of a feature-length effort that would establish his voice as that of an uncompromising indie maverick.

Written by Cameron Beyl (Watch Cameron’s excellent Directors Series Video Essays)


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