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The feed

 

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 he falls in love with one of the young women he’s been watching, his digital and physical realities collide.

anyone can watch...for a price

 

Matt Towey is a 22-year-old college dropout who dreams of joining a "hacktivist" organization like Anonymous, or launching the next big tech startup. Instead, he’s a programmer for a marketing agency, helping companies sell products and services he couldn’t care less about. But that’s only by day.

At night, Matt 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, Matt became a Ratter, using Remote Access Trojans (RATs) like DarkComet and BlackShades to hack computers and spy on girls in his class. Since then, he’s accrued thousands of “slaves” (a real-life Ratter term), though he doesn’t like to think of them that way. To him, they’re friends, people he’s watched over weeks and months, some even for years. He knows them. Their obsessions and insecurities. Their hopes and fears. What they look like without makeup on (or without a bra).

Watching had been a hobby, a diversion to dull his overwhelming sense of loneliness and cope with family trauma, but that all changes when Matt is recruited to hack for The Feed. Desperate to be a part of something and have his talents recognized, Matt starts ratting for profit, sharing the lives of his “friends” with a wider, and anonymous audience on the Dark Web.

Then he meets Claire.

Claire, who dreams of becoming a writer, is also an observer. Like Matt, she views every observation, interaction, and experience as fodder for her craft. (Granted, their crafts are markedly different.)

Hoping to learn all he can about her, Matt hacks Claire, spying on her Skype sessions with her brother and studying her calendar so he can be in the right place at the right time.

As Matt comes to know Claire, online and off, he falls in love, becoming involved in her relationships and struggles, and even forging a connection with her brother.

But, just as his real-world relationship starts to pull him away from his digital identity, The Feed demands more.

One night, Matt and his audience witness an act of brutal domestic violence. The message board crawls with commentary and the ticker climbs as viewers tune in from other channels. The altercation ends with a gunshot, but, because it happened beyond the camera’s vantage, the woman’s fate is uncertain. As Matt looks into the circumstances, he suspects The Feed’s involvement, a deliberate interference to heighten its viewers’ experience.

As Matt becomes increasingly entangled in The Feed, he can’t help but feel that he is also being watched. Not knowing whom to trust or what is real anymore, he begins to question his own interactions and relationships.

In the end, Matt is forced to choose between the world he’s created online as an observer, and his offline reality, where he's far more vulnerable than he knows.

 
Who sees the other side of selfies and Snaps?

The Team

 

 

 

Screenwriter / Celeste Chaney

Celeste Chaney is an author and screenwriter and has written numerous short stories, including the one upon which this film is based. Her novel In Absence of Fear was published in 2015 and examines what it means to be human in a world of algorithmic absolutism. In Absence of Fear 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.


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.


Director / Marcio Garcia

Mario Garcia is a director and producer known for Celebrity (2003), India: A Love Story (2009), Bed & Breakfast (2010), Open Road (2013) and Loucas pra Casar (2015).


Executive Producer / Ray Kolasa

Ray Kolasa has served as Senior Story Analyst at Universal Pictures for the past twenty years.

 

 

Artistic vision

The Screenwriter's creative intent

By Celeste Chaney

This project began as a fictional short story I wrote about a brilliant but disenchanted and lonely young man seeking connection and purpose in his life. But, as I developed the short story and then adapted it for the screen, the work took on new meaning.

The Feed explores the relationship the protagonist has with digital technologies, and the relationships they permit him 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, Matt Towey, knows this better than anyone, and yet he, too, struggles to overcome it. For him, 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 Matt to help the people he’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 Matt 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.

 
I don’t know what’s real anymore.

location

The Feed will be shot in Boston, Massachusetts, which will lend its own visual quality, culture, history and energy to the narrative. 

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CONTACT

Passage Pictures

Uri Singer 

Email: uri@passagepictures.com