“Talk to Me” explores this idea of spectatorship in the age of social media, of characters who feel indirectly involved in events unfolding in front of them—and shielded from consequences—because they’re filming on camera phones. Even the vehicle of possession, where characters let demons occupy their bodies, allows them to experience their actions vicariously without being held accountable. What did you want to say about social media and the psychology of a generation raised within it?
Michael Philippou: It’s the world that we grew up in. If we were going to make a film that was current and set in a world that we understood, it had to be that. There are positives and negatives to social media, to that craving for attention that we all have. You also see kids using social media as a mechanism for disconnection. When horrible things happen, you pull out your phone and start recording, as a way to dissociate yourself from what’s happening in front of you.
Danny Philippou: We’ve also seen the rise and fall of all these dangerous trends, ones that people lose their lives over. And we’ve seen rising rates of depression for young people, because of social media, and people getting so insecure about body image. It’s funny when you see influencers posting footage from behind the scenes. Suddenly, their smiles fade, and they’re normal people. I find that fascinating.
Michael Philippou: Social media is crazy, because what everyone is trying to attain is impossible. It’s an image that I think everyone knows isn’t real, but we’re all still chasing after it. No one’s life is like their Instagram story, but we’re after that validation. And young people can’t make mistakes these days, either. Back in the day, if you did something embarrassing or said something wrong, it would be spoken about and then forgotten, whereas now it can be immortalized and brought up to punish you later down the line. What a strange time for young people to be growing up in, because you haven’t even learned right from wrong yet.
One could also say that all these characters are filmmakers, to a degree, transforming their first-hand experiences into entertainment for others.
Danny Philippou: There are so many positives and negatives to that. People turn up their noses at YouTubers, but the whole of this next generation will have made and uploaded content to YouTube or TikTok at some point. It’s just a part of our culture.
Michael Philippou: And it’s crazy that people still make excuses for themselves not starting out as filmmakers, right? Everyone has a 4K camera in their pocket. So many people never start, but you just need to start making content and get better with everything that you make. On YouTube, the competition is denser now, because everyone has the ability to start. Everything’s so easy.