"Noah," a Canadian short film playing at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), tells the story of an Ontario teen's breakup with his girlfriend. The hook? The 17-minute movie takes place entirely on Noah's computer and iPhone screens.
WARNING: The film contains strong language and nudity.
Directed by Ryerson University film students Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg, the movie features casual porn surfing, Facebook hacks, Skype chats and finally lonely moments on Chatroulete (yes, there are penises).
It is guaranteed to make you sad, but also prompt questions about what life online is doing to young people today.
"My biggest issue with Facebook is that it's giving people the ability to cultivate a personality for themselves that may not be completely honest," Cederberg told Ryerson Folio.
The filmmakers used that lack of honesty to promote the movie. A fake Twitter account for Noah and fake Facebook profiles for all the main characters were deployed to help spread buzz about the flick.
But not all the Facebook material in the film was fake.
Caitlin McConkey-Pirie, who plays Noah's girlfriend Amy, donated one of her actual Facebook profile pictures to the film. Only, at first she didn't know it.
"That was an accident," McConkey-Pirie told HuffPost in an interview conducted entirely on Facebook chat. "Walter and Pat literally just took pics off my page after I became friends with them. It made me realize I have no control over my Facebook identity."
Things proceeded to get out-of-control meta. McConkey-Pirie commented on her real photo used on Amy's fake profile.
"I thought it was funny and then Walter texted me and was like, 'Don't do that anymore.'
McConkey-Pirie said the directors were concerned things "could get too meta."
"My friend's started to get confused. They were like, 'Who is this girl Amy and why is she throwing parties you're not inviting me to?'"
The movie also makes clever use of real web minutia and memes. Noah sends his girlfriend lolcats, is distracted by the viral game QWOP, chats about playing "COD" (Call of Duty) with his friend "Kanye East" and receives messages with web slang like "cereal" (serious). The details help make the film feel eerily real and of the moment. Even the credits take place within a TextEdit window.
The movie's realism became all the more apparent during my interview with McConkey-Pirie. We both multitasked heavily. She admitted to commenting on several photos, reading articles and talking to one of the directors on the phone during our chat. I managed to start dinner, conduct several chats on Gmail and peruse my Newsfeed.
"Everyone in this generation knows what it's like to have three tabs open on Google Chrome and to be texting, and watching a video at the same time," McConkey-Pirie said. "We all feel like it's normal, but also that something is missing in the communication."
"Noah" is a film that will undoubtedly make many members of the Facebook generation ponder what they may be missing. Maybe they'll watch the movie on Facebook. It doesn't get much more meta.
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