Spotted is written by Seda Anbarci and Shanjay Arora who is also the director of the film. Seda Anbarci is also the producer of Spotted, an official selection of many film festivals since its release. Spotted is about the digital era and the online culture in our world and it is directed by Shranjay Arora.
The film deals with an arrogant internet celebrity who takes a trip to a cabin in the woods, only to find out he has a cult of followers, who's ready to follow him into a "bright" future.
We spoke to Seda Anbarci about Spotted for New York Arts & Cinema. Seda is an award-winning screenwriter based in Los Angeles, who did her MFA in Screenwriting at New York Film Academy, Los Angeles.
Tell us about the inspiration behind the making of Spotted.
The inspiration behind the making of Spotted is the ever-growing culture of online communities. Humans always tend to find a community to feel connected or validated and to feel as a whole. In the digital age of the internet, there’s a community for everything. The director, Shranjay Arora, thought about how in our reality, a lot of kids follow online communities blindly. This can be Youtubers/Streamers or Social Media Influencers. And kids grow up idealizing these online personalities. When you think about it, the popular online personalities today have the same qualities and charisma of renown big cult leaders. And Cult growing with time makes CULTure. These thoughts combined, Shranjay Arora, the director, and Seda Anbarci, the producer, wanted to look at the online communities in this new alternative perspective. “What if the definition of the cult is being changed, maybe all the online communities are borderline cults?” That thought sparked an idea which Shranjay and Seda started working on instantly.
Why were these themes in your film important to you to work on? Tell us about how the story started forming and developing for you.
It felt important to tell the world that everything you see online might not be all true. It was necessary to explore this theme, especially at this point where the internet is essential. Shranjay Arora has always wanted to recreate an online celebrity with a convincing personality to inspire millions of people and explore how he or she might use that kind of power. Because the online personalities now have control over what people think, if they choose not to do the right thing, that kind of power might be misused for something else. So, we started writing a convincing and charismatic character of an online celebrity, who influenced millions of people and effected how his followers thought and acted. In our version, we wanted to explore how this online celebrity is forced into leading a cult of his followers, so he is forced to misuse his power, which is not an absurd possibility in the world we live in right now.
Trailer of Spotted:
Talk to us about how the film went into production and the most challenging or interesting thing about the process of making the film.
We learned a lot during the production. We had a busy production schedule and overnight shoots. The crew was composed of new filmmakers who are passionate about filmmaking. But the overnight shoot challenged all our crew. We faced a lot of problems, which then limited the time we had for filming. Eventually, the crew picked up the pace, but still due to time constraint, we had to cut some scenes in order to complete the film. The production of Spotted really taught us how every new filmmaker out there should be very careful about choosing their crew, choosing people that they vibe with and that are ready to work hard so that they can deal with the difficult challenges on set together.
What is the message of your film and who is your targeted audience?
The target audience are millennials or anybody dwelling in the internet communities a lot. With many new internet influencers coming, there is a wave of ideologies everywhere. We wanted to explore another perspective of internet communities, and how they might choose to or be forced to misuse the influence they have over their followers or viewers. Like the famous Spiderman dialogue – With great power comes great responsibility, and we just wanted to remind people to be self-aware since many influencers are not taking the responsibility seriously, so it comes to us, the common man, to think critically and choose what’s wrong and what’s right for ourselves.
Talk to us about your next film project.
We’re currently creating a world in the near future where augmented reality and virtual reality would be used to recreate scenarios in our lives to better understand the outcomes of our every move.
Tell us about the most fascinating thing about the language of cinema for you.
Just like any art, cinema is made for a message (theme) that is explored by the filmmaker. Cinema is unique because it depends on the audience to interpret it and understand it in their own way. I find it intriguing to recreate a real-life scenario or possibility that not only gets my thoughts across but also open to interpretation and can be read in many ways from which the viewer takes what he wants to take.