SXSW FILM 2015
By Don Simpson | March 18, 2015
Director: Benjamin Dickinson
Writer: Benjamin Dickinson, Micah Bloomberg
Starring: Benjamin Dickinson, Nora Zehetner, Alexia Rasmussen, Dan Gill, Meredith Hagner, Gavin McInnes, Jay Eisenberg, Sonja O’Hara, Jessica Blank, Austin Ku, Reggie Watts, H. Jon Benjamin
Benjamin Dickinson’s Creative Control exists in a near-future Brooklyn, in which everything seems fairly similar to our present, save for a few technological advances. One new product is Augmenta’s virtual reality glasses for which David (Benjamin Dickinson) has been asked to spearhead the marketing and branding campaigns. But even before slipping on the Augmenta glasses, David expresses a constant desire to escape from, or at least dull, his reality with a steady influx of alcohol and pills. David drifts through his various scenes utterly disconnected from the people around from him, while remaining perpetually plugged into technology — David has truly turned on, tuned in and dropped out. David’s indulgences magnify his anxieties and insecurities, sending him even deeper into a proverbial rabbit hole of numbness.
The stunningly anamorphic black and white cinematography of Creative Control leads us to view the narrative through a translucent veil of falseness; the actors slightly overdramatize their acting, while the production design seems all too perfectly staged to be authentic. These directorial choices not only reflect David’s hyperreal perspective, but they also suggest that the world is becoming less natural with each technological advancement. The most realistically grounded scenes are viewed from David’s yogi girlfriend, Juliette’s (Nora Zehetner) grounded, more Earthly perspective. Juliette is the least hindered by technology, though she also rejects the overly-simplistic hippiness of yogic culture. At first, Juliette uses yoga as a form of escape, but eventually she succumbs to the lures of sex; nonetheless, she avoids the temptations of technology.
Creative Control is a cinematic treatise on the negative implications of an over-reliance on technology. The assumption is that increased connectivity would quench boredom, but instead it exacerbates matters. As the line between fantasy and reality blurs, technology evolves into a much more sinister villain. The messages of Creative Control are as black and white as its cinematography: we need to prepare ourselves for the dehumanizing effects of technological advances and escaping reality does not solve any of our worldly concerns.