White Privilege, Racism & Dangerous Social Media: Life Imitates Art In New Horror Film LINKED
When the cast and crew of horror film Linked began shooting in March, they had no idea that their film about the dangers of social media and how white privilege in America still exists, would foresee the current crises. The film addresses connecting through social media, exacerbated in reality by a global pandemic, and the tragedies leading to the global Black Lives Matter movement.
In order to finish before the impending quarantine, the cast and crew were in isolation together to protect everyone who, much like the characters in the film, relied heavily on group video chats.
In the age of social media, teenagers tell the story that they want people to see, with each video more daring than the next. But in this small town, a series of staged “murder” videos are turning very real.
According to director David Lipper, “We knew that we would never make it through all our shoot days before Governor Newsom would shut down California, and with the help my amazing first AD, Elizabeth Blake-Thomas, we managed to rework locations and days to finish a week early and JUST complete principal photography as the lockdown started. And, like in the film, the latest apps and internet devices allowed me to work remotely with the editors to get the film edited over the next two months. We will be the most current film out there reflecting today’s circumstances; we even managed to add some COVID 19 references in the dialogue.”
The film (written by Duncan Forester) has been described as a cross between I Know What You Did Last Summer and Get Out. A group of privileged popular high school students commits a hate crime against Wayne, an LGBTQ student of color. They broadcast his humiliation on a major social media app for the entire world to see, driving Wayne to a mental institution. A couple of years later, they are being killed off one by one, begging the question, how far are you willing to go for likes and followers?
Linked stars Adam Garcia (Murder On The Orient Express, Coyote Ugly) and David Lipper (Frequency, Full/Fuller House), who also serves as the film’s director, the cast includes Elise Luthman (The Politician, Do Not Reply), Jessica Belkin (Reboot Camp, American Horror Story), Riker Lynch (Glee, Dancing With The Stars), Matt Rife (After Masks, Wild N Out), Isabella Blake-Thomas (Secret Society of 2nd Born Royals, Shameless) Alli Simpson (Filthy Rich and Homeless, Hacking High School) and Steven M. Clark (Poz Roz).
To make the film as realistic as possible, Lipper cast actors who, like their characters, have millions of followers across their social media platforms (Belkin over 2 million, Simpson nearly 1.5 million, Lynch with 1 million, Rife with 250k, and Luthman 105k). Additionally, the character of Wayne was originally written as white, but Lipper felt it was very important to show that both homophobia and racism are both still very prevalent in our society.
Lipper states, “What’s crazy is how we ended up making a morality tale about the benefits vs. the dangers of social media and how white privilege is still an issue in America…right when all this came to a head right in real-time!”
Linked is currently in post-production. Lipper is working remotely with composer Stephen Edwards, scene by scene, on the score, while the film is being colored by its DP, Duncan Johnson; Tim Alek Mulley is EP.