The Power of Padding

Sometimes, all it takes for an auteur to be born is “a little extra room to play with”. That is the conclusion Kevin B. Lee reaches in this short video essay for Fandor. He delves into two early films by directors who would later be considered auteurs, even though they both made their movies within the confines of genre cinema: John Carpenter and Monte Hellman. Both these men had to pad out their first movies to make them acceptable – length wise – for theatrical or television distribution. Lee doesn’t dismiss this extra footage as an afterthought, but finds the seeds of their auteurist visions in exactly these extra scenes.


This video essay is a fine bit of film criticism, film history and auteur theory all combined into one elegant and short video. Using side-by-side comparisons with later films, Lee makes a convincing case to look for creative vision in the most unlikely of places – even in padding.