In this fast-paced society obsessed with technology and hyper-connectivity, have we, as humans, lost the ability to connect with ourselves and the people around us? We present these questions and more to Nichola Wong, director of the dystopian short film, Skinship (UK).
An introduction to yourself
I am originally from Liverpool, but have lived in London for the past 13 years. I have always written in some form and have been screenwriting for a few years, my aspirations to direct came quite late though it was always something that I saw as natural progression from my writing… I knew it was only a question of the right script, and that happened to be ‘Skinship’.
I have worked for some of the UK’s leading film distributors (E1 Entertainment & Studio Canal) as well as a few independent film producers and a sales agent. I have attended various weekend courses at London Film School and Raindance as well as 1-2-1 mentoring session with Drama Centre’s Tom Shkolnik (Writer/director of ‘The Comedian’). This was all invaluable experience in my journey as a writer and director.
I like to create narratives that reflect the world around us and that lead to more questions – that are emotional journeys and personal transformations deep-rooted in human needs and fundamental human questions.
But presented in out of the ordinary, exaggerated situations. I am always keen to take a closer look into what binds us together as humans. I have a soft spot for the theme of technology; right now ‘robotic companions’. I find the ethical questions associated with technology and its impact on humanity fascinating.
My work is a mish mash of artistic influences derived from – people, relationships, observations, questions, social problems, art, film, and music.
With the existence of technology that imitates the human touch, such as mobile phone applications that now let you send a virtual Thumbkiss™ to your significant other. Are we now closer than ever to the technological future that you’ve created in the film?
Yes we are indeed and things like ‘Thumb kisses’ and iWatch ability to send vibrating love hearts to your partner is just scraping the surface. I think in some ways we’ve already arrived in the technological future that i’ve created in ‘Skinship’, I see it every day that I walk down the street and every time I get on the tube to work.
Many applaud the innovations in technology that allow us to connect on a ‘virtual’ scape, do you think technology is becoming problematic to our interactions with each other and as a society?
Innovations in technology should be applauded; there is tremendous value and advantage in technological advancement. The wonderful things that technology can do truly marvels me and on a personal level my life has become more convenient and pleasurable. Though it’s a double edged sword that needs constant supervision, with advantage comes inevitable disadvantage and I believe in the near future that the negative consequences of overusing technology and being ‘over-connected’ will far outweigh the benefits speaking on a human level. We are starting to see that already, for example there are rehabilitation clinics for technologically addicted children.
Technology is redefining the very meaning of interaction, communication and connection on an individual basis and as a society as a whole. It promises to be the gateway to new connections but has the power to cause fatal disconnect.
That need to be never out of touch, constantly consuming information in all formats and engaged in virtual worlds for fear of missing out is making us lean outwards rather than inwards neglecting our true human needs and the things that we need to live a truly meaningful life. One of them being ‘touch’.
My film sets out to explore the possible consequences of lives so taken up by screen communication that many of us are left virtually incapable of touching and communicating with those closest to us. From the very moment we are born we crave touch, it is part of our humanness, we need it to survive, thrive and truly be alive.
With technology becoming more and more ingrained into our daily lives and it being the cultural norm for the younger generations I think it’s important to have an awareness of the negative consequences of technology and enforce balance, if not for our own sakes then for our children.
Visually, how did you set about exploring themes of alienation?
The film explores two themes, that of connection and touch and the opposite; disconnection and being out of touch. It was very important that the film embodied these two themes in every sense.
Disconnection/alienation is weaved throughout the film’s narrative supported by every production value from shot composition… all the way to sound design.
The film explores the theme through minimalistic, modernistic set design. The protagonist’s environment sterile, vast and cold – semiotic use of colour – white, blues and greys used as emotive signifiers. Matched with costume design with clothing that looks almost suffocating, with uniform colours lacking personality representing the suppressed souls that live within. Shot choices and composition – vast, sparse and wide to create space, a sense of rigidness, isolation and loneliness. The disconnected world is further conveyed through the use of silence – no dialogue and minimal/subtle sound design. All juxtaposed against the sensuous, warm, connected world that we see in the touch therapist’s room.
Thank you Nichola!
Skinship (UK) will be screened at No Gloss Film Festival 2015.