Spotted deals with an arrogant internet celebrity takes a trip to a cabin in the woods, only to find out he has a cult of followers, who's ready to follow him into a "bright" future. Toronto Film Magazine had the chance to speak to Seda Anbarci (co-writer/producer) and Shranjay Arora (co-writer/director) of Spotted.
What makes you fascinated with experimental cinema? Experimental cinema is a good storytelling medium; what makes it special is that you can play with different visuals and audio to convey a message which itself does not have to be related to the film’s narrative all the time. Short experimental films are great tools to experiment with different aspects of filmmaking. The well appreciated and overly used methods have become the basic rules and norms for filmmaking today but with a short experimental film, you can experiment and find new ways to engage the audience which not only helps you find yourself as a filmmaker but also gives the audience a brand new experience that they don’t see every day.
Experimental cinema to me feels a lot like conducting experiments, where you put together a lot of elements of filmmaking to recreate a lively scenario and then see how people react or respond to it. The understanding or conclusions you get out of it is crucial for any filmmaker’s journey to understand the full potential of films while also showing the world what your own vision looks like. How did the idea of making Spotted come to you and what inspired you to make the film? The idea started with a basic understanding that times have changed. We live in a digital age now, but the old habits haven't changed. All the things that used to exist before, backdoors, exploits, the good or the bad, they all have translated into the online world and have found a place again in our society. People adapted their old habits to the new digital age’s best tool, the internet.
The idea behind how cults existed, which mostly consisted of people blindly following a charming leader word by word, isn't very strange or far away from a streamer or Internet influencer in today's world. “With great power comes great responsibility” as we all know from the infamous movie, but do these streamers and influencers know that too? And if they do, would they ever misuse it? Who keeps them in check? These were some initial questions that put me into the rabbit hole of thoughts for Spotted. I wanted to make the film to question the audience’s beliefs on the internet and ask them if everything they read or see online is true or not.
How difficult is it to distribute experimental films and what do you recommend to other emerging artists? We’re still experiencing our own challenges, especially due to COVID-19. It’s been more difficult. That’s why our current way of distributing and screening Spotted is via film festivals to find the specific audience for our experimental digital age/cult short film. Please tell us how the film went into production and how you finalized the cast and crew. The film was made under supervision of New York Film Academy, Los Angeles, and most of my Crew were my classmates, who I have worked with before and had chemistry with.
I also had some members whose work I liked from other classes too. In order to save money, I chose to have my entire crew from NYFA. So, finding a crew wasn’t the hard part, but for cast, I put up casting lists on several websites including LAcasting and backstage. I hosted auditions and finally, narrowed down the list of talented actors. We did rehearsals with the cast and went over to the location several times. Since one day of our shoot was going to be an entire night, I preplanned my dates and had enough time with the cast and crew to adjust for the nocturnal hours. What is the most challenging aspect of finding an audience for experimental shorts? I think the most challenging aspect of finding an audience for an experimental short is relatability. How many people understand your concept that you are making the film on? In today's world, people in the film industry have figured out what works and what doesn’t, which restricts most of the filmmakers from making the movies about concepts they like or relate to. Does the language of cinema stand out more than arts to you? Why? Creating an art piece in cinema is almost similar to recreating a simulation which has real believable characters, locations, objects, colors, moods and emotions. It's like recreating reality which people relate to, and that experience transforms them as a whole if well-executed. We all have been watching movies to get inspired, find solutions or just to feel connected as a whole. To me, most of the Art’s purpose is to ask a question which people relate to on a deeper level, and what's better than asking a question while simulating a new reality for people to experience, understand and grow? People put themselves in the shoes of the protagonist and experience his/her life as their own. What inspires you to write, direct and produce films? Just like any art, films are made to convey a message, which is the theme. Film to me also is a healing remedy. It has the power to change people, just like any art. I find it very intriguing that I can recreate life and make people question their own with my creation. With today’s Internet advanced, anybody can make films and put themselves out there. This form of art was very beneficial to me while growing up as it helped make sense of the world and empathize. Not only do I want to give back the same to the world but also hope to show the world a new perspective which hopefully provides a chance to change for good. That’s why Seda, my producer, and I have been collaborating for years now to put our insights and ideas out there.
Here is Spotted trailer: