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Laura Naylor

An unassuming Wall Street lawyer finds himself beset by a new employee, Bartleby, who refuses to work - in an ongoing act of passive refusal, he simply 'prefers not to.' A quiet, dogged battle of the wills ensues in this stop-motion reimagining of a Melville classic. For more info on festival screenings and press: www.bartlebythefilm.com



We met in a tall tower in New York. You could say we were trapped, if you were prone to hyperbole. Both art school alums, neither of us had intended to work in an office, let alone finance. But like a lot of creative people, we needed a steady income. And like a lot of creative people in that situation, the time we spent not making things was filled with talk of making things. And of making an escape. And so Bartleby (the short film) was drafted, in fits and starts. In Bartleby we found an avatar who could “prefer not to”--though we might still have to. At least for now. And stop-motion animation was, or so we thought, the perfect medium--leveraging equally our film and sculpture expertise. In the choice of medium there was also a beautiful rub: for a lead character who prefers, by the end, to essentially do nothing, stop-motion is a perfectly anachronistic choice. It requires continuous, labor-intensive opting in. There is no “prefer not to” in stop-motion. In retrospect, it’s now clear that in laying out a puppet office, in planning Bartleby’s puppet escape, in pantomiming his puppeted refusals, we were making our slow way out of the tower. Bartleby reminds viewers that perhaps we are not puppets, or if we are, we are mostly our own puppet-minders. Preferring and preferring not to as we see fit.