A man tries to unsubscribe from an email newsletter. Big mistake.
Interview with Writer/Director Steve Utaski
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thanks! It came directly from a real life experience. During a big binge-cleaning of my inbox I noticed how progressively challenging some e-marketers were getting about letting you say good-bye. I just took the idea to its absurd extremes.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Well, it’s over pretty quick, so you don’t have a lot to lose. But seriously, based on audience reception, your are likely to smirk at least once. Possibly guffaw.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
That’s been been one of the biggest surprises of the reactions we’ve been getting--is how universal ‘Opt Out’ seems to be. This was my little one-man rant against email marketing. But evidently we’re tapping into some universal need for revenge and retribution.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
I was lucky this time. It’s generally not a good idea to rush in and shoot your first draft, but that’s what we did. During the editing we winnowed down some of the gags to just the keepers. And the music bed ended up playing a bigger role than anticipated.
The biggest challenge was casting the email ‘character.’ I didn’t want to have Randy Sholz, our lead, reacting to a blank screen. It just wouldn’t be fair to an actor to have them do that.
After some trial and error we were able to use a brief membership with Survey Monkey to build a form that looked like an email talking back to a computer user. Ironically, at the end of post production I had to unsubscribe from Survey Monkey email marketing. Sorry Monkey, nothing personal!
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
After a great year, “Opt Out” is nearing the end of its festival run and we’re looking forward to being able to share it online to a whole new audience. At that point, the more eyeballs the better. So I think anyone with a computer and working knowledge of the “share” button will be great for us.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
One of the nicest things I’ve heard so far was a programmer at the Savannah Film Festival say she thought about our short every time she got a piece of email marketing. How fantastic is that? A 3 minute short that stuck with someone weeks after they saw it. Hard to ask for much more.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
A few months after we premiered—and this was a total coincidence—REI, a major outdoor retailer, came out with a campaign call “Opt Outside” which urged people to step away from their screens and go explore nature. I thought it was brilliant.
I’m fascinated by research that shows how buying stuff seldom makes people as happy as they expect. So I just hope people can keep the discussion going about buying less and living more.
Would you like to add anything else?
Yeah, one more big fat round of thanks and praise for all the people who worked on this film for free. I was so humbled to have so many great people bring their talents to the table.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I have another short script in the oven and am looking to get in production in the 2nd half of the year. I hope to have the same dream team assembled and hopefully I can even pay them this time!
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Director: Steve Utaski
Producer: Patti McCreary
Writer: Steve Utaski
Steve Utaski is a Seattle-based director. He’s directed about 100 TV commercials. Opt Out is his debut narrative short.
Patti McCreary is an executive producer at Remedy Pictures. She started her career at PBS in the 80s and has been working in production ever since.
Key cast: Randy Sholz
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): Sales agents, buyers, distributors, eyeballs
Funders: Self financed with some generous donations by crew.
Made in association with: Remedy Pictures
Release date: September, 2015 at LA Shorts Festival
Where can I watch it? Screening at Palm Springs Short Film Festival on 6/23 at 1:30pm at the Camelot Theater. We have an offer on the table for online screening rights, so stay tuned.