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Tag: Social Media

Editorials

Social Media: A Filmmakers Friend or Foe?

June 19, 2020
Dr Parvinder Shergill

Social media has become a world in itself, from quick picture-snapping on the gram to political comments with the birds of Twitter. It is indeed a virtual land exploding as the months pass, with new apps continuously being promoted. We are now in a time of zoom or house party for those that need to work from home.

Whilst self-isolating, social media has indeed come in as our best friend to save the day, in ordering our shopping list, to catching up with granny.

I have spoken as an expert speaker at Parliament for social media. On one hand, yes it needs to be used wisely as it can impact one’s sleep, anxiety, exercise, and self-esteem to name a few. However, it can be an excellent tool for connecting with others that you wouldn’t normally come into contact with, with a supporting platform for those that have autism that can find typical face to face contact difficult.

For a filmmaker, I think it is a unique opportunity to showcase your work, almost free publicity if you will, which anyone in this industry will appreciate. Gone are the days of posters, or leaflet giving, but now one click can reach millions. It has certainly been as asset to many celebrities in endorsing their products. A strategy of technology that can contribute so much to a filmmaker.

I worry though, as with all social media, that despite it being an effective communication tool for filmmakers connecting to the industry at a tip of their fingers, that it could also downplay just how difficult it is in fact to create a film.

This is exactly what I spoke with David Yorke, an award-winning filmmaker. David, I met only last month at a film festival, which already feels months away due to lockdown. I was drawn to one of his films, in particular, named Safekeeping. It is a story that was originally created when David entered a competition about the world ending. What he made, I feel was tragically beautiful on the screen. It certainly is a film that one can take away a lot of messages or interpret in many ways, which I discuss with David. I personally felt drawn to the themes of abuse, palliative care, love, attachment, and loss. I won’t say too much, in case you have not watched the film, but for me, it resonated, possibly due to my work in mental health, with the exquisite location in a large field- some of my favourite scenes in this field.

I see David’s Instagram and I congratulate on him on the recent festival wins, and he candidly speaks about how Instagram shows only one aspect of his career, however not the hard work behind the scenes. I ponder on this, as he is absolutely right. For a moment I have been swept with the limelight social media can portray into someone’s life of just looking at the best-taken photos, but not actually what that individual is going through or doing to even get to that point of the picture being taken. We as human beings, get drawn to the attractive object, the good object in our mind’s eye, the power, the money, the trinkets of unattainable wealth, the prestige, the good looking, and even the downright ideal of what we want to be. Essentially conditioning ourselves to believe that if a picture looks perfect, then that person must be living a perfect life.

But being a filmmaker is messy. It means constant drop out of actors, lack of funding, desperately awaiting emails for location, and the need to be accepted to festivals for recognition. It certainly is not the edited poster or final edit of the film as we see as the audience.

Social media reminds me of exactly that: the poster of the film. It is the edited version of our work, our work meaning our life in this context. But what we fail to show is the bloopers, the slips, the pick me ups, the tears, and the laughter through the exhaustion.

I hope as filmmakers, we remember that of course, it is about the final product, the final edit, but to remember the process of achieving that, and to remind one another on social media how we admire this process and not just the edit.

Also Read: Interview: Dr Parvinder Shergill Talks Mental Health & Movies

This article was originally published in www.thesecretpsychiatrist.com

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Editorials

Screens on Screen: Computers, The Internet And Social Media In Films

December 1, 2018

The Internet is constantly taking over more and more of the world as seemingly anything can be improved by a WiFi connection. We watch television through Netflix, buy things through Amazon and google every passing thought or question that goes through our mind. As with any new technology, Hollywood was eager to pounce on the Internet for ideas.

What Could Computers Do?

The Internet and computer networks have been featured in films since the 1980s examining the possibilities of what “hackers” could do from accidentally leading to nuclear war in Wargames to even more sinister – changing your attendance record at school in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It is fair to say Hollywood has an odd relationship with the Internet and that’s not surprising – illegally downloading films was supposedly going to destroy the industry while Netflix almost single-handedly wiped out Blockbuster Video.

Wargames (IMDb)

Online Secrets

Assassination Nation is a recent release that deals with the Internet and social media, and without these, there would be no plot. In this film, a hacker plans to upload all of the messages sent by everyone in the town so secret conversations, insults, gossip will all come out. Judging from the trailer, the whole town collapses into violent anarchy very quickly.

Technology and Storytelling

The new technology computers and the Internet have made possible hasn’t always benefited storytelling. Mobile phones would have ruined the plots of hundreds of films and so often now there is an exposition explaining how it’s a bad reception area. Hacking into secure government files seems child’s play for any teenager with a computer, replacing any interesting and complicated break-in. Tracking someone down was once the territory of hard-bitten private detectives but social media has made it easy to find virtually anyone.

The First Glimpses of the Internet

1995’s The Net was one of the first major films to deal with the Internet and created a terrible world of secret online organisations controlling the world and, if necessary, acting against you. Sandra Bullock stars as a computer programmer and shut-in Angela Bennett, a woman with very few friends or family, who falls foul of a sinister online organisation. They swap her identity with that of convicted criminal Ruth Marx and kill her ex-husband by deleting his allergies from his medical records and pretty much ruin her life. It’s interesting that identity theft has now become an extremely commonplace crime, although not quite how they imagined it. Far scarier these days is not that someone accesses your bank account, that’s just money, but someone accessing your social media and email, that’s your soul. The Net seems laughably clueless now and I think at the time people who knew about the Internet thought it was as well.

The Net (IMDb)

The Good and the Bad

The Social Network is one of my favourite films and I’m still angry that it didn’t win Best Picture at the Oscars. This is a film with a far better grasp of the Internet, social media and computers as, if nothing else, Facebook co-creator Eduardo Saverin was consulted for the book the film was based on. The Social Network talks about algorithms for god’s sake. As films about the Internet go The Social Network is broadly positive – yes, a close friendship is destroyed and most of the characters are thoroughly unlikable but there’s no Black Mirror-style horror. It’s not surprising that most Internet films are about the potential dangers; films need to be dramatic so there’s no film about how awesome Facetime is for connecting with friends abroad, in the same way, there are no films about genetic modification fixing hunger, it’s all murderous mutant hybrids. The Social Network portrays Facebook as largely a good thing, even if the origins of Facebook involve hacking, theft and some pretty mean stuff around rating the looks of women. It would be interesting to see how Aaron Sorkin (writer) and David Fincher (director) would handle making the film now after Facebook’s recent problems.

Ingrid Goes West is a film showing a very dark side of social media. It stars Aubrey Plaza as a young woman who becomes dangerously obsessed with people via their social media (the film’s title is what she names her Instagram account when she moves to Los Angeles). The film feels very current as if social media is in the news it is usually negative – it’s bullying, it’s stalking, it’s catfishing. Ingrid carefully culls her victim’s social media to find out where she shops, where she eats, what things she likes and very quickly her actions escalate beyond simply following someone online. Not to give too much away but unsurprisingly it doesn’t go terribly well for any of those concerned.

Ingrid Goes West (IMDb)

Horror has quickly embraced the darker elements of the Internet. Unfriended is a supernatural horror film viewed entirely as if viewing a computer screen in a twist on found footage films. So you see Skype windows, instant messaging, Facebook updates almost making social media the “setting” of the film. Another recent horror/thriller Cam looks at another often dark side of the Internet – pornography. The film follows “camgirl” Alice who is trying to put on ever more inventive and exciting shows for her viewers when suddenly her identity is stolen: someone has hacked her account and is streaming new videos of her but videos she never made. As well as being a chilling identity theft thriller it also shows some of the real-life impact of working as a camgirl – how devastating it can be if people find out about her career, how viewers profess their adoration but then treat her as less than a person, how getting help is much harder for her because of the way the profession is seen.

What Next?

In many ways, Hollywood still seems to be learning how to use the Internet effectively in stories but given it’s increasing importance it does feature more and more all the time. Unsurprisingly it’s younger filmmakers who have grown up it that are leading the way.