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Saturday December 4th

A strange, but true, show about you

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It’s hard to pin down what exactly WOODS.TV is. It’s divided into episodes and seasons like a television show. It looks like an experimental art film. It’s been described as a kind of video diary.

In truth, the show is probably most similar to your own daily life.

In the most general sense, WOODS.TV is the online video project of producer Nikhil Shah, a lanky guy with a thin moustache and Beatles haircut.

Each episode lasts between three and 10 minutes, culled together from hours of footage, and chronicles the adventures of Shah’s friends in the city of Raleigh.

Adventures, actually, is a pretty generous term. Most of the show revolves around Shah’s friends just hanging out — partying, telling stories, making jokes, ordering drive-thru fast food and so on. (An odd amount of screen time is devoted to old movies playing on TV.)

At first it’s not really clear what sets it apart from the endless collection of random video clips uploaded to the Internet. The show seems absurd and funny, but uncomfortable. The content and slow pacing can be disorienting. Shah said most people find the show bizarre — until they start watching regularly.

If you’re one of those people who can make it through to the end of an episode or two, parallels with your own life are likely to emerge.

Take the ninth episode, for example, which ends with a three minute scene of a bearded guy in a Lacoste shirt playing beats on his laptop and rapping over them for Shah to listen. He’s terrible.

It’s painful to watch.

But who hasn’t had to put up with a friend trying to show off a talent they don’t really have? Or been annoyed by a friend singing along to the radio in the car, as happens in another episode?

Slowly, the same details that make WOODS.TV so strange become the same details that make it so familiar. But the discomfort lingers.

The project goes further than just capturing the daily exploits of Shah and his friends. It’s a mirror held up to the way many young people live their lives in the moments when they get to choose to do whatever they want. Those choices are sometimes boring, sometimes hilarious and often surprising when you stop to examine them.

It takes time to realize all of that, but when you do, the show takes on a new, more mature meaning. It has something to say about the way we spend time and entertain ourselves and what forms the basis of our relationships with friends.

Shah’s greatest talent as a filmmaker lies in choosing interesting subjects and keeping them comfortable in front of the camera, allowing these moments to play out naturally.

Thirteen episodes are online now, and more are in production. Shah plans to begin integrating himself into the minimalist storylines as a character.

Take a few minutes out of your day and check out an episode. You probably won’t learn anything.

But if you do, it’ll be about yourself.

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