Interview With Alex Mann Green Dot Short Movie Creator
Sometimes it doesn’t take a whole lot to get one’s attention. Alex Mann has done just that with his cleverly crafted new short film entitled Green Dot. Green Dot is an idea that is worthy enough of a Twilight Zone episode. Or possibly more apropos would be a Black Mirror episode now a days. And even though there isn’t much too it from a production standpoint the ideas and the emotion of the piece is seminal. Thankfully Alex agreed to chat a little bit about Green Dot. If you are interested in following Alex’s progress you can do so at: www.alexjmann.com or, @alexjmann
Maybe this would all go a whole lot simpler if you just watch Green Dot for yourself and then we can chat with Alex after you see what I mean.
Alex – I love that Black Mirror episode, but I developed Green Dot independently. I was on someone’s Facebook page who died recently, and the sister was posting for them. There was something surreal about seeing posts from someone who I knew was dead, even though I knew the sister was writing them. I combined that idea with Gchat, since Gchat is this time portal into our past – I’m always seeing names in my Gchat window of people I haven’t spoken to in years, and probably won’t ever speak to again.
This brings up a truly great question in our every day lives. Our society has firmly ensconced social norms around how to physically bury someone when they die. But we don’t have a good understanding around what to do as a society around those same individual’s digital selves. There are ways to commit technological hari-kari while you are still living… but to expunge the internet of you after you are gone is something entirely other. If you haven’t seen “Be Right Back” you should definitely check it out as it really grapples with this issue and the residual impacts that can result of this logical misstep. I personally have never watched as someone’s avatar comes to life after they have passed away, but can imagine it to be quite otherworldly especially when that is the main way you interacted with that individual.
Taylor – Your background music was perfectly played and complimented the overall mood and impact of the piece. How did you decide on this particular piece of Trent Reznor’s?
Alex – The short needed a dark, moody piece to sustain the drama of the text conversation, and thought of Reznor. I’ve been wanting to use Ghosts, NIN’s Creative Commons album, so this was a good opportunity.
If you haven’t checked out Ghosts you probably already know if you listen to NPR, This American Life or any other serious reporting outfit as it is a favorite of theirs as well. Its a very very good soundtrack for all things with ingrained pathos and passion. Its a fantastic offering to the creative commons world that is for sure. Trent definitely was savvy in getting his music out to a much wider audience by making that maneuver happen.
Taylor – How long have you and Space oddity been doing films? I really thought the idea behind Engagement was another cleverly played concept.
Alex – Me and my co-producer, Adam Bloom, formed the production company at the beginning of this year. Our plan is to continue exploring this theme of the “dark side of technology.”
I think this is a fantastic new thread that we are seeing in so many films and shows of late. Currently thinking of the Heather Dewey art that has sort of spiraled and done a nose dive of late in Hong Kong as they are humiliating litterers in hopes of getting them to stop littering. Good goal, bad bad bad method for achieving this goal. So yeah, it’s definitely a topic worth exploring, with a nearly infinite way of spinning this idea on its head.
At this point in the interview I began opening the questions up to another film that Alex wrote and created. This one is called Engagement and similar to Green Dot, it also has a dark and edgy technology twist to it. It is another really tight idea that was very well written. And while it seems like a movie made with friends after a dinner party, the ending will catch you unaware and will surprise you with its cleverness. Here, check it out:
Alex – I love Coherence and it was an inspiration for Green Dot. The script for Engagement was tight – written and rewritten many times, to establish the beats of the story. The actors ad-libbed occasionally when it improved the script. One of my favorite lines was ad-libbed: “I’m just glad five people died.”
I just can’t say enough amazing things about Mark Duplass in this space and the whole concept of how there just isn’t any excuse for wannabe film makers from getting together with your friends and writing and creating short films on the nights and weekends. I’m thinking of this SXSW talk, or some of the comments Duplass made about the creation of ‘The One I Love‘. And it seems like Alex is right in the heart of this idea around script development and production.
Taylor – Do you have hopes to expand out any of your pieces to longer format films?
Alex – Yes. We have general ideas of how all our shorts can be expanded into features.
Taylor – Have you considered submitting any of your work to any film festivals?
Alex – Engagement and Green Dot are currently submitted to several festivals.
Taylor – What do you do when you aren’t making movies?
Alex – I write comedy for television (Funny or Die’s Billy on the Street, various shows in development) and write for digital platforms, like Maker Studios and VICE.
Well thanks Alex for taking the time out to chat about Green Dot. It really is a marvelous little film. And we hope that a ton of people see it.