Oooh, I like it when we are early to something new! So much fun. Kudos to Erik Belusic for tipping me to this great little short film called Dissidence. I’m not going to tell you about it at all – just trust me on this one, it’s worth ten minutes of your quarantined life (is that really saying anything at all??) … so hit play on the film below, then proceed on to my interview with Matthew Brdlik.

If you are still unsure as to whether or not it’s worth your ten minutes…the story is set in the year 2084. And a government agent chooses to go without his mandated phone. This begins to open his eyes, as he learns the consequences of speaking out, against the surveillance state he is living in. So it’s a fairly poignant plot for a fairly poignant time period. Where governments (all governments) and tech companies are actively tracking phone movements as they hide under the cover of Covid.

Interview with Writer & Director Matthew Brdlk:

THiNC: “The government mandated phone is a very clever twist. Where did that idea come from? Was it an AHA moment, or more of a result from watching government disinformation get pumped into people? Or maybe from the last election? Guess there are a lot of ways that thought could have struck.”

Brdlik: “It’s hard for me to remember the exact moment that this idea dawned upon me. It takes a few months of tossing, molding, and rearranging ideas in my head before I ever hit the page. I think the thought process was, people are always on their cellphones, they’re the perfect tool for abuse, why would an overbearing government let their citizens go without one? It’s only natural to assume that someone choosing not to use a phone in 2020, let alone 2084, is doing some pretty serious evaluation about society around them.

“Funny story, I distanced myself from using my phone since I came up with the idea. However, it took me a while to take the actual leap of fully giving it up my phone for a week. Funnily enough, I was met with some serious frustration from friends and co-workers, some of whom were even crew members on this project. There is a co-dependence and when you abstain, it feels almost selfish. Definitely some social enforcement going on!”

THiNC: “I remember dropping out of Facebook, years and years ago, and a similar thing happening. It’s funny how society itself polices this kind of forced tech inclusion. This short kind of feels like Her, or a Black Mirror episode, do you see any potential you might try to biggify it?”

Brdlik: “The number one response I get is that it’s like Black Mirror. I absolutely love the show so that is a big compliment to me. It’s almost like the new benchmark of quality for this type of film. Similarly, Her is an excellent compliment as well!

“Another thing I often hear is people asking where the full film is. This is another great thing. I’ve partnered with a production company, Strange Loop Films, for the development into a feature. I met them through one of the film festivals we were showing at. However, just like any other film, it depends on things like investors. I’ve been shaping the exact narrative in my head for years, it’s definitely something I will revisit in a longer form sooner or later when the opportunity arises.”

THiNC: “I have to know more about the door man’s son – I think it was? He’s almost a Christ figure in this story. Or the Philosopher beckoning us out of the cave. What happened to him? Just a temp job? And he’s down on 4th Street doing another temp gig and sharing more eye-opening intel there?”

Brdlik: “I’m confused as to what you mean regarding the door man’s son? If you mean the first door man, Charles, his return at the end of the film indicates he was a plant or informant from the party there to test and entrap David. I’ll leave where he goes from there up to your imagination. However, I like to think it has something to do with where David’s path
leads next.

THiNC: “Having just re-watched the film, it’s all becoming more clear! I didn’t catch that he was being tested – I had assumed it was a supportive response, and a guide towards philosophical enlightenment! hahah. Have you seen the short film Cul-de-Sac? It’s on Prime I believe. Or it was. Your film has many of the same pre-baked, already there, ambiance and goodness. How did you achieve this world of tension and govt. ickiness without any Big Brother or stark 1984 references?

Brdlik: “I hadn’t seen it but I just watched it. What a good film! I think the similarity you’re pointing to is the lack of exposition, letting characters reveal it naturally and being thrown into their world. The tension and drama comes from the story itself progressing. That being said, every work of art is inspired from another. There are no wholly original ideas. The creative process is taking an idea and building onto it, re-purposing it to push your story forward, and thus contributing new ideas.

THiNC.: “Yes, totally, a complete lack of exposition and a desire to let the audience sort out the details as they happen. Dissidence definitely did that for me. Funny, after reading the synopsis, reading this interview, I just went back through and was like AHHH. Multiple double takes. OK, I’m seeing it now! hahaha. Learned so much in the next re-watch. Great job for making 10 fantastic minutes of film that continues to give to the diligent viewer.”

Back in the day, I spent almost half my time reviewing and watching for new talent in the short film scene. I loved the bite sized nuggets of potential. I loved the fact that they were movies in concentrate – amped up doses of cinematic fiction. And I still love shorts. Still love the new characters, new ideas, all the new concepts that come from them. So, kudos to you Mr. Brdlik, and hopefully, one day, we’ll look back on this interview as the full feature release is happening and say, I remember when! hahah. Great job. Great film. Thanks for the ride.

Edited by: CY

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