A lonely hacker uses a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) to infiltrate and broadcast the lives of strangers for profit on the Dark Web, but when she befriends one of the women she’s been streaming, her digital and physical realities dangerously collide.
The cameras are always rolling...
All Sam has to do is find them.
Samantha Schumer does whatever it takes to get close to her victims. She goes anywhere, becomes anyone. Then she gets closer. Sam works for The Feed, a platform on the Dark Web that gives users access to the ultimate reality show: a curated channel comprised of thousands of hacked camera feeds. Unscripted and uncensored, The Feed is the future of entertainment. It’s real reality television, and anyone can watch, for a price.
At fourteen, Sam learned how to use Remote Access Tools (RATs) like DarkComet and BlackShades to hack computers and spy on the girls who bullied her in class. Since then, she’s accrued hundreds of thousands of “slaves,” (a Ratter term), but the longer she watches, the more her victims feel like friends, each with their own share of secrets, obsessions, and insecurities. She knows them, who they are, and who they hope to be.
Watching had been a means to an end, a way to finance her life, a diversion to dull her overwhelming sense of loneliness, but that all changes when Sam meets Claire, the friend she’s always longed for, the person she’s always wanted to be.
Claire, who dreams of becoming a writer, is also an observer. Like Sam, she views every observation, interaction, and experience as fodder for her craft.
Hoping to win her friendship, Sam hacks Claire, spying on her Skype sessions with her brother and memorizing her calendar so she can be in the right place at the right time.
As Sam comes to know Claire both online and off, she develops complex feelings for her, admiration, envy, even desire; entangling herself in Claire’s relationships and struggles, adopting them as her own.
But, just as the “real” world begins to pull Sam away from her digital identity, The Feed demands more, tightening its grip, exercising its power.
As Sam tries to separate herself from The Feed, she can’t help but feel that she, too, is being watched. Not knowing whom to trust or what is real, she begins to question her own interactions and relationships, including the one with Claire.
In the end, Sam must choose between the world she’s created online, as an observer, and her wildly unpredictable world offline, where she may very well be the one being observed.
Screenwriter / Celeste Chaney
Celeste Chaney is an author and screenwriter and has written numerous short stories. Her novel In Absence of Fear was published in 2015 and received Honorable Mention at Foreword's 2015 IndieFab Book of the Year Awards. Celeste is a freedom forum scholar, and a Utah native. Her writing has been recognized by Writer's Digest and featured in CATALYST and The New York Times Magazine. She is currently working on her second novel, Our Farewell.
Producer / Uri Singer
Uri Singer is President of Passage Pictures and has produced many feature films. His latest films Experimenter (2015) and Marjorie Prime (2017) premiered at Sundance, with rave reviews. Passage Pictures is currently in pre-production for Ted Melfi's I am Rose Fatou developing upcoming features Rich, starring Matt Damon, Tesla starring Ethan Hawke & Winona Ryder, and Don Delillo’s White Noise.
Executive Producer / Ray Kolasa
Ray Kolasa has served as Senior Story Analyst at Universal Pictures for the past twenty years.
The Screenwriter's creative intent
By Celeste Chaney
The Feed explores the relationship the protagonist has with digital technologies, and the relationships they permit her to have with others, but at its core, the film examines how our physical and digital identities (or realities) mirror, marry, and contrast one another, and how these similarities and dissimilarities allow us to forge meaningful relationships with ourselves and others.
Digital technologies have transformed the way we connect, communicate, and live. Social media has given us a window into the lives of complete strangers, and we continue to scroll, rapt by the vantage it offers. But, while networking platforms, computer games, and other services have made us more connected than ever before, they’ve also disconnected us, isolating us from the world unfolding just beyond our screens.
Protagonist and hacker, Sam Schumer, knows this better than anyone, and yet she, too, struggles to overcome it. For her, hacking or "ratting," as it’s known in this context, begins as a hobby, something born out of curiosity and loneliness. Later, it becomes a tool for connection and a means for Sam to help the people she’s come to care so much about.
While I had a limited working knowledge of hackers’ capabilities when I began this project, I had no idea how prevalent Remote Access Trojans (RATs) were, how easy they are to use, or that thousands of people really do “tune in” daily to watch strangers in this way.
Through some preliminary research, I came across an article from Ars Technica about the men (they didn’t mention women ratters, though some may exist) who do this. I was interested in their narrative, the motivations for ratting, and the psychological effects. Surely, I thought, some of these people would come to develop a relationship with (albeit, one-sided), or at least a fondness for, their victims. (From Sam in the screenplay: “The longer you watch someone, the more you see...After a while, you know them, better than their friends or their family, better than anyone...sometimes, better than they know themselves.”)
What feelings of empathy might arise from such an intimate knowledge of a person’s life and where might these emotional attachments lead? These are some of the questions I explore in The Feed, a techno-thriller in part, but at its heart, a meditation on creating real connections in our hyperconnected, digital age.
The Feed will be shot in New York City, which will lend its own visual quality, culture, and energy to the narrative.