Panopticon is a about a man with a sunlight allergy who isolates himself from the outside world. Living in a beachside town, he is surrounded by spoils he cannot partake in. Desperate for connection, he hacks into webcams to take part in the lives of others.
Interview with Writer/Director Aaron Keene
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I wrote this while I was working 12+ hour days in a surveillance van as a private investigator – so it was a time that I felt completely isolated, like I had no life, was always watching other people (spying on them professionally for work), but not living life myself. I had great friends and was with Sara – the love of my life – but it was all distant and felt like I couldn’t enjoy it. So Alex’s loneliness in this movie represents a very lonely time in my life. It wasn’t quite at the level of his, but it’s what I tapped into.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Because as a film lover you like to be challenged, you like to be taken to uncomfortable places and to explore deep truths hidden in your subconscious. Whether I deliver on that is for you to decide, but it’s what I strove to achieve. Some people will hate it. Some people will love it. Everyone will fell strongly either way.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Stories of loneliness and need for connection told through the eyes of an anti-hero are timeless. It’s been done before, but the need for connection has never been told like this through webcam hacking. The themes have been explored in Taxi Driver, Wild Strawberries, Revulsion, Paris, TX, Leaving Las Vegas – I could go on and on. It never gets old because it’s a deep human truth. We give it a unique twist that’s never been done before.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
The biggest change from development to post was the cutting of some pretty big scenes. There were some scenes I really loved, were beautifully shot and acted, but they didn’t move the story forward. The movie is a lot tighter without them, but I still think about them often. Perhaps we’ll include them on the dvd extras.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
People really connect to it. It’s a slow burning film. Alex is a hard person to connect to at first, because he’s a bit of a creep. But with time we really start to accept him. Everyone can relate to loneliness, isolation, and the deep need for connection. It’s an uncomfortable place to be, but it’s ultimately why we relate to this bizarre and quirky character and why, through all his faults (and he has a lot of them,) we still root for him to triumph in the end. Maybe I’m projecting on everyone else, but I connect to it.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
No. It’s important that filmmakers challenge convention and take risks. My point of view is to tell stories boldly, and not to give in to popularity. We have enough 300 million dollar epics that don’t explore humanity in any way.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I just want more people to see the movie, connect to it, and share it.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Sales agents, buyers and distributors are welcome. Sara, my girlfriend and co-producer (she’s also an extremely talented writer and director), have several other projects in the pipeline. A feature we wrote together is being produced by Henrik Fett (Black Swan, Grand Budapest Hotel, Apocalypto) and we have several other features we wrote individually that are ready to be made.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I hope Panopticon connects to people, causes them to reflect on their humanity, and the importance of human connection.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Is technology our present day Panopticon?
Would you like to add anything else?
Come check us out at the Portland Film Festival. If you can’t see it there, look for it at a festival near you and sign up here to be notified of its official release.
Aaron and Sara also have the following projects in development:
Youth Departed, Pre-production
A character study on suicide tourism. Being produced by Henrik Fett (Black Swan, Grand Budapest Hotel, Apocalypto)
Death Will Tremble, Pre-production
Aaron – Writer
This story is about a PI who is hired by a transgender woman to find her missing son. This case, coupled with his addiction to a strange street drug called rations, leads him down a harrowing path and into a dark and seedy underworld full of bizarre characters and peculiar habits. The case of the missing child becomes much larger than he ever imagined when he discovers it’s all part of a sinister Black Market Organ trade.
Command Z, Development
A group of young political activists hold the CEO of America’s largest bank hostage in a secluded home in the Catskills.
Sara – Writer/Director / Aaron – Co-Producer
A man caring for his wife with Alzheimer’s pretends to be her first husband when he is all that she remembers.
Untitled Feature, Pre-production
Sara – Writer/Director / Aaron – Co-Producer
After losing his father in a house fire, a boy moves in with his mother and befriends his new neighbor, a 15 year old girl who is pretending to be blind.
Interview: August 2016
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
Panopticon is a about a man with a sunlight allergy that isolates him from the outside world. Living in a beachside town, he is surrounded by spoils he cannot partake in. Desperate for connection, he hacks into webcams to take part in the lives of others.
About the writer, director and producer:
Aaron Keene is a writer and director who has been a pro snowboarder, a repo-man, a bellman at snooty hotels, and a private investigator. Now he’s a copywriter at a Venice Beach ad agency. He has a lot of strange insights and bizarre quirks from many years of odd jobs that inevitably find their way into his work. He’s lived a unique life that feeds unique story-telling.
Sara Burke started writing when she was a kid living in the suburbs of Florida. She’d carry a journal around everywhere and would often sit in the Walmart parking lot to watch people and write what at first seemed like mundane sentences about their lives. Recurring themes in her works include a love and fascination with outsiders, bizarre quirky characters, juxtaposing feelings, telling stories of those who may not usually be noticed, and stories of ordinary people disillusioned by their emotions. Sara enjoys walking the line between moods and embraces non-traditional structure. She is the co-producer of Panopticon and the writer/director of several upcoming projects on the slate of her and Aaron’s production company.
Guilherme Scarabelot ... Alex
Sylvia Sakellaridis ... Jolene
Rachel Taylor ... Katarina
Carlina Baldonado ... Alaina
Matt DeNoto ... Gerbil
Pat Skinner ... Daddy
Brandon Jared ... Twitch
Nick Lopez .... Andrew
Brock Wilbur ... Ryan
Max Hambleton ... Thomas
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Yes, yes, and yes yes yes yes.
We raised less than half of our 10k goal on indiegogo, then credit card financed the rest.
Sign up to be notified when it’s released
Where can I watch it in the next month?
Portland Film Festival