It is becoming easier and easier to cut yourself off from the world outside. With the technology out there and the amount of businesses that offer almost everything delivered to your door, we don’t need to be out and about anymore, we can get all we need from the keys and screen on our computers and devices. But what is this doing to our society? And how is this affecting those who work, shop and socialize online?
Toronto Film Scene managed to talk to Mars Horodyski, the director of Ben’s at Home, about this issue. The film centres around one man’s decision to become a hermit and never leave his home. Ben is able to date, eat well, and earn money from the comfort of his own home and it seems to not faze him that he rarely comes in contact with the world outside his door. The film looks at the problems surrounding this isolation and experiments with the idea of living through the Internet. As Mars explains, once they had thought of a plot and concept that meant they could keep to their budgetary demands the film moved on to other issues, “Once we started writing Ben’s at Home we also realized that there was a lot of potential for social commentary about the digitally connected age we live in.” This takes the form of Ben having dates through the Internet, getting paid work and even taunting someone through an Internet based game on his console.
However, Mars feels that this might not be the future for our needs, “Real human contact is still integral to the fabric of humanity. I think people are starting to realize how important it is to disconnect and venture out into the real world.” We are seeing more and more that disconnecting from our online personalities is becoming a difficult thing to achieve. There are commercials and advertising campaigns showing the importance of focusing on the people that you are with physically rather than virtually. Such commercials show people being forced to hand in their cells before they begin a dinner party, making for an interesting concept and an odd fact that we have come to that point where we have to be reminded of how to act socially.
Ben’s at Home does suggest that living and working from home is quite an attractive prospect and with companies allowing this to happen more and more, what will the working day look like in the near future? And when couples begin to start a family and the cost of day care is so high, there is even a financial benefit with working from home. As Horodyski acknowledges, and what Ben’s at Home discusses, is that night’s out and partying with your friends soon become a thing of the past, “People start to get married, have babies and Friday nights usually don’t go past 10 pm.” Mars points out.
This may be even closer to the truth when the Canadian winter settles in and the thought of venturing out is a cold and dismal one. Horodyski agrees and sees how important it is to have that chance to hibernate. However, this causes more people to be online and to have a social life next to their warm and cozy fire. Ben’s at Home certainly shows that living within your four walls can be done, but Ben finds that it is an unusual thing to explain to someone else. The minute you tell someone that you never leave the house, alarm bells start ringing and a list of reasons and potential illnesses stream through their mind. But if the trend continues, the stigma of “staying in” will become increasingly more accepted and part of our social code.
This could have a massive effect on human nature as we know it, and could make films like Ben’s at Home impossible to make. Mars and Dan Abramovici worked very closely on this film, writing it together and being the director and lead of the movie, respectively. If they weren’t able to meet up and work together, the film would have not been possible to produce. Mars suggests that it was the energy between her and Dan that created this movie, “We have amazing synergy when we write together and he always gives me space and support when I’m directing.”
It goes to show that movie making is a team effort and one that is based on people working together outside the comfort of their own homes. It is safe to say that making friends online, or dating virtually is not a dangerous or human race threatening thing, but as Ben’s at Home shows, just like anything in life, there needs to be a good balance.
Mars Horodyski’s and Dan Abramovici’s movie, Ben’s at Home is screening on Saturday, March 28, 2015 at the Canadian Film Fest, and is also in the process of becoming a web series. Here’s a teaser trailer to whet your whistle.