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‘The Other Half’ Filmmaker Joey Klein On Using Subtle Cues to Tell the Characters’ Backstories

SXSW film The Other Half is a love story between two damaged people whose backstories only come out as the film plays on. Director Joey Klein was keen on using physicality and means other than dialogue to tell the characters’ stories.

“The beginning starts in a way where something is changing for [main character Nickie] that he doesn’t know yet is happening—his brother’s obviously just gone missing and he doesn’t know about it yet,” Klein explains to Where to Watch. “So in the filmmaking it was important for me that something changes for us, the viewer, that we don’t quite register, so we speed-ramped it just slightly…I know I’m getting tech-y and nerdy here…so, as he’s walking, it just gets incrementally slower and the music in his ears changes into what I called our grief motif, and this incrementally goes over the score and becomes the soundtrack until you’re in those emotional memories. Then it’s a hard cut into to Nickie at the club, five years into the future. And the club to me is how I’d rather deal with exposition, as a viewer, I don’t want everything to be explained, and the hard cut on that dark techno music and that dark club, to me that’s got exposition pregnant in it. You’ve just seen a guy in the sunlight with a normal sweater on, and now he’s in this hellion, dark techno club, where we linger on that first shot a bit too long, and Nickie’s dancing in a certain way where he’s not really dancing, he’s kind of like giving off this very negative energy that’s going on with him. And then he sees her (Emily), and it’s a little shift.  Everything in the beginning is hard cut, hard cut, hard cut, abrupt, like violence is abrupt, like a boy who goes missing is abrupt, and everything is like that until Emily comes into his life. Then things slow down.  The takes are longer, they stand together, and it’s in the present tense.”