DataMine is an incredibly detailed stop-motion short film from director Timothy Barron Tracey. The surreal short looks at a plugged in world where the inhabitants are ignorant of those who are watching. Tracey answered a few questions about his film and the completely CGI, hands-on approach to creating DataMine. The short screens as part of Short Cuts Programme 11 at TIFF 2016.

Describe your film in ten words or less.

Privacy, surveillance, obsession––Reflections of digital existence.

What inspired you to make this film?

Humans are obsessed with conquering new frontiers, reaching new goals, always hitting the next plateau. We are, unfortunately, less concerned with the repercussions of these actions. As our technology advances at unfathomable speeds, checks and balances are forgotten. DataMine explores the unknown future of our digital existence.  What will the future hold for individualism, activism, art . . . that which makes us human.

What was the best thing about production? Most challenging?

DataMine was shot on the ones (24fps as opposed to the standard 12 for animation). Everything was done with practical effects and we built or repurposed everything by hand . . . From the metal skeletons of the puppets, the camera rigging gear, to the very studio we shot the film in. The crew was very small yet multitalented. We had to overcome huge challenges and learn many new skills to complete this intense and experimental animation.

What’s the one thing you want people to know about your film?

There was no CGI (Computer Generated Images) used in this production. To create the effect of characters being watched on surveillance monitors, characters were animated to play back frame-by-frame on a monitor in another set as that set was animated . . . In this fashion we created an effect that would, in any other production, be achieved via green screen.

Your film seems to call people to the world around them and away from the created technological world so many of us live in. Do you think we’ll need to escape back to the outside world soon, or are we moving closer to a world inside that we never leave?

I fear a world where humans are so “connected” that we are disconnected from reality. Technology is drastically affecting our society.

I was born in 1980 thus I have witnessed the digital revolution first hand . . . I grew up on a farm with a party line, and a rotary phone. I witnessed the rise of computers, the birth of the internet, cellular phones, email, videogames, . . .

I have also watched our rights and freedoms be trampled by our technology. I feel our society has become more and more complacent as we become more dependent and consumed by our technology. I fear for future generations that may live primarily a digital existence.

What will you be working on next?

I have a few projects in the works including wrapping up an animated video for Toronto based Double Tooth. My next film is Boil––the third in a series (Kreb, DataMine, Boil).

Boil will explore the relationship between the media and the militarized industrial complex.

Your film is screening as part of TIFF. What are you most excited about seeing or doing at this year’s festival?

I am so honoured to be selected to show my work at TIFF. It is a huge opportunity for me and my team. On a personal level I’m really excited to see the premiere of Werewolf. Ashley McKenzie is a very gifted and unique filmmaker. I’m thrilled to see her first feature film premiering at TIFF. It will be a very special experience.

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