Underground Film Journal

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Experimental Short Film: Nothing

By Mike Everleth ⋅ March 24, 2014

The beloved sitcom Seinfeld is well remembered and regarded for most episodes’ byzantine, intersecting plots; which was an innovative writing style that made it a hit while it was on the air and earned it an iconic, legendary status. However, as LJ Frezza proves in his experimental short film Nothing, the show also featured a lot of dead air where, that’s right, “nothing” — and that means absolutely nothing — happens.

Each of Seinfeld‘s four main characters — Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer — led separate, complicated lives, which meant that most episodes needed numerous transitions from one NYC location to another. In addition to Jerry’s apartment that served as a hub of activity, there were fitness gyms, friends’ apartments, restaurants, comedy clubs, stores, etc., where interlocking comedic scenarios would take place.

Using brief exterior establishing shots has long been a sitcom staple, so it’s no surprise that, even though how non-traditional Seinfeld was in many regards, that it regularly employed this familiar scene-switching device. The show just needed to use a lot of them, as Frezza really highlights in his film re-mix.

Exterior widnows of Jerry Seinfeld's apartment on his sitcom

To create Nothing, Frezza clipped out each transition shot and assembled them together. According to the filmmaker, each clip used in the short film is the exact same length as it appeared in the show and, at least for the first half or so of the film, uses the same audio as each scene was originally broadcast.

What makes Nothing work as a free-standing short film, instead of just as one of those “supercuts” one sometimes sees on the Internet, is Frezza’s very careful and deliberate montage. The film is paced along through the audio. Transitions with the faster, jazzier soundtrack are grouped together in the opening that then devolve into clips with a much slower tempo before then moving into transitions that feature more laugh track audio that accompanies the music.

Then, finally, Frezza makes the very deliberate choice of dropping out all audio as the transitional visuals switches from exteriors to interiors. This is the most astounding part of the film to see just how long these scenes of true “nothingness” run on what was such a complex, heavily plotted show.

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