The Social Addict
The Social Addict is a visually stunning and socially relevant short film by director Jonathan Williams.
What is important to recognize about this film, is that its greatness comes from its message. What can be interpreted not simply what is seen, is the crowning achievement of this inventive short. The Social Addict, in whole describes the frightening reality we live in today, through a lens that is both beautifully framed and layered in stunning VFX.
Social Networking has taken control of an addict’s life… [to the point that] he has begun to experience psychological trauma… [now] he realizes he needs to quit. But can he really quit social networking? Can anyone?
The short tells the story of a young man, who like many others his age is addicted to his cellphone and the various social media applications it contains. The Social Addict narrates his struggle to quit the device and in what can only be described as a shocking twist, it showcases a grim metaphorical reality about the true hold social media has on society. Jonathan Williams presents this narrative stunningly, through the use of colors that present the grim tone of the story and through the use of narration, which provide audience’s with a guide into the film’s haunting world.
The appeal of this short film manifests itself in its ability to utilize music and narration as its main narrative tool. The majority of the short is silent. The only accompanying sound is a voice over by the male lead and a very fitting musical score. As this story progresses, the voice over reveals the short to be something deeper than what its four minute runtime might suggests, and with the assistance of the carefully chosen music it is confirmed that it is.
The acting in The Social Addict is spot on. Though the lead serves in a silent role, he is able to communicate the tension and seriousness of his situation all through visual movements and facial expression. It is a hard thing for an actor to deliver when not assisted by dialogue, but The Social Addict’s Thomas Johnson is able to do so flawlessly. As an end result, he leads audiences through the story in a way that greatly heightens the emotional impact of the short film’s message and increases the shorts staying power.
For what would take forever for a longer format film to showcase, Jonathan Williams is able to do in four minutes. By the end of this film audiences will be left thinking. For any director, that is a plus. If they are ever able to make a film that will stick in your head after viewing and have you questioning your reality, then they have truly done their job. In The Social Addict’s case Jonathan Williams has done just that.
For those looking to explore the impact social media has on today’s youth in a metaphorical sense, The Social Addict is the short for you. The film in its entirety will not only please you with its socially sound narrative, but also amaze you with its more than impressive visuals.
INTERVIEW with Jonathan Williams (Writer/Director/Producer/Editor/Cinematographer)
First, what's your story? How did you become a filmmaker?
From a young age I have always kinda been making videos, not necessarily short films. I started around 2008, I began making little gaming videos and posting them on Youtube. I done that up until about 2012 when my interest in making gaming videos subsided. Then I just stumbled upon some visual effects videos by Andrew Kramer (VideoCopilot) and really enjoyed them and was interested on how to do the same thing. So I guess I would say I started to become a filmmaker around 2012. I started in a VFX background doing countless tutorials on VideoCopilot.net and filming my own videos to recreate the same effects. I done that for a few months and while looking for a few more VFX tutorials on Youtube I found the channel Film Riot. This is when my passion for actually creating stories and making short films really came to light. I just loved the idea of being able to make up any story you want and telling it anyway you wanted to. I watched Film Riot religiously and went through all their old videos that I missed before I found them and just studied up on all the tips and tricks for making a good film. The time came for me to actually make my first short film (Today Will Be Different), I was planning it for weeks and everything went smoothly. I finished the short in early April 2012. I was really happy with the end result, it was really exciting to see the great feedback I was getting from my friends, family and my subscribers on Youtube. I don't know why I was getting such great feedback because I look back at it now and think to myself "How did I think this was good". I guess everyone would look back at their work and know they could do better now. Ever since then I haven't looked back. I continued to make shorts and continued practicing. This is where I am at now, three years in with "The Social Addict" being my most successful film being selected as finalists for film festivals and actually winning one. I can say it has definitely been a fun ride so far.
What inspired this short?
I would say the biggest inspiration for this short would have to be my personal experiences. There has been countless times where I have been with friends, family, at a party or any social setting really where you look around and see everyone just looking down at their phones. Not communicating with each other, just glued to their phones. I am guilty of this too, I'm sure everyone has been at some point. It has just become a socially acceptable practice to just be on your phone when with others. I guess I kinda used this short to highlight the change in social behaviors with the introduction of social media.
Any interesting production stories?
There is some interesting stories, probably the biggest one would have to be while on the first day of shooting we fell crazy behind schedule, there was no way we were going to finish this in one day without going all night, and just filming with friends that are happy to help out and do it for free I didn't want to keep them up all night. The problem was that we rented our gear for this one day. I only rented a lens and a mic but they were crucial pieces of gear that I thought would make the film that much better. So in a last ditch effort to get this film finished in one night I decided I was going to cut the injection scene out of the film. I really don't know why I even thought of cutting what I think now is the most powerful scene of the film and literally the idea that this film was based around. I took some more time to think about it and decided to cut my loses and just film on a second day. What I thought was a lose because it meant I had to wait another week to film and just pushed the deadline for a competition the film was entered in even closer. It actually turned out to be a win because the injection scene is easily my favorite part of the film and I feel like I got the best looking footage on the second day. So everything worked out. There was also some pretty funny moments on set, I had a friend film some behind the scenes footage and he got some great stuff. If you would like to watch the behind the scenes you can find it here:
There is also another story but it wasn't during the production of the film. Once I finished the video I had to upload it and the behind the scenes video along side straight away because it was the last day that anything could be entered into the competition. Lets just say this was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. Entries closed right on midnight and I was watching my videos upload saying they would take 40 minutes to complete. It was 11:30pm. I just thought to myself "Well sh*t". I made this film with the plan to enter it into this specific competition, all that work going to waste. Suddenly my internet decided to take some steroids and finished uploading the videos with 10 minutes to spare. I then had to hurry and submit my links to the competition and I literally finished everything having 3 minutes to spare. Turns out I didn't even win the competition. So all that build up for nothing haha.
What is it like film making now after having made this film? Has your approach changed?
I definitely feel like my approach to film making has changed. I feel like this has been my best film to date because I put a lot more time and effort into getting a take I am 100% happy with rather than moving on and settling for something that could be better because of time restrictions. I can definitely see myself putting more priority on getting a shot I am 100% happy with rather than time.
Do you have any projects lined up for the future?
Yes I actually have two scripts in development at the moment. One is very close to having the final draft being finished and starting to storyboard while the other is in it's early stages. These will be the biggest projects I have done so far so I am hoping to get them both finished this year.
Any advice to filmmakers?
The best advice I could give to any filmmaker would be to always keep on making things. You can only improve so much from research, but having actual experiences making films will show you what works for you and what doesn't.