“Life Hack” won the Best Narrative Feature in the Jury Awards of this year’s Port Townsend Film Festival, and writer/director Sloan Copeland took the time, with his lead actress and wife, …
“Life Hack” won the Best Narrative Feature in the Jury Awards of this year’s Port Townsend Film Festival, and writer/director Sloan Copeland took the time, with his lead actress and wife, Jessica Copeland, to answer questions from both the audience on site and The Leader after his win.
“I’ve had an interest in the conflict between privacy and surveillance for a long time, and I saw the sorts of scenarios we had [in ‘Life Hack’] years in advance,” Sloan Copeland said. “Four years ago, I knew I wanted to do this film, but nobody was really talking about these issues. There were some celebrities whose nudes had been leaked, but this was well before the Sony hack or the election. I wanted to beat the times and not be dated, so I tried to make it not about any one specific incident.”
Since the Copelands live in New York City, the film was shot there, “and made the city a character itself,” according to Sloan, with overhead drone shots deliberately styled to look like surveillance footage.
Of the film’s attempts to capture the world of hacking accurately, Jessica Copeland said, “We did a lot of research, but I’m sure we made plenty of mistakes.” Indeed, since the film’s “Incognition” group was based on 4chan’s Anonymous hacker collective, the Copelands were worried about potential retribution, especially after the film was screened for a hacker convention, but Sloan reported that the hackers in attendance seemed to enjoy it.
“It shows that hackers are regular people,” Sloan said. “The Moraler, the mystery hacker in our film, wasn’t based on any one hacker in real life.”
Jessica credited her husband with being “a fantastic director of actors,” who allowed for improvisational opportunities by filming with multiple cameras at once, to capture all the actors’ reactions at the same time, even though this limited the camera angles that were possible.
“I try to write naturalistic dialogue, so I wanted them to be comfortable with it, and to bring as much humor as possible to their delivery,” Sloan said.
The script even drew from one of Jessica’s jobs, as a frequently underemployed New York City actress, by having her character pay her bills by appearing at children’s parties as a fairy-tale princess.
When asked what comes next for him, Sloan Copeland expressed an interest in exploring virtual reality “in all aspects of living,” and the wireless interconnectivity of electronic devices.
“I think we are so early on our interaction with this technology, but I feel in many ways VR will be one of the biggest advancements in how we interact with the internet and external world,” Sloan said. “I’m also in development for a TV show that will very much be about certain current social and political issues.”
In the meantime, the Copelands again extended their thanks to the organizers of the Port Townsend Film Festival.
“We couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Sloan said. The Port Townsend Film Festival is truly a great model for what a film festival should be. We look forward to returning in the future.”
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