After seeing Big Brother State some time ago, I have been trying to find more information about its creator, David Scharf only to find nothing. An interview was a must. The film itself doesn't intend to explain fully the arguments for or against CCTV but presents itself as a catalyst for discussion, something for which it does very well.
The short can be seen on bigbrotherstate.com in Quicktime format or below in low resolution Flash video.
Given the visual sensibilities of this project and his internship with Karl Kliem, his next work is highly anticipated in my book.
Would you tell us a little about yourself?
I'm a 24 year old german student, originally from Regensburg (Bavaria, Germany) now studying in Augsburg (Bavaria, Germany) currently attending an internship at MESO / Karl Kliem in Frankfurt (Hesse, Germany). I meant to launch a portfolio under my web address huesforalice.com, but due to a lot of work I haven't had time recently to present my past projects on the web, so you'll still have to wait until I manage to cope.
There really isn’t much about you or the background to The Big Brother State online while the work itself is all over the place. Has this been deliberate and what was your intention in releasing it under a creative commons sampling license?
There not being much about me or my work on the web is simply because I haven't published any work on the web previously. My intention in releasing The Big Brother State under a creative commons license is that I'd like as many people as possible to see my work without having to pay for seeing it. The Type of license I chose enables other site owners and festival organizers etc. to show my film free from royalties (as far as the festival and / or site is non commercial, but even if they were commercial we'd find a way to work it out.)
"The film is supposed to make people think about surveillance and how good or bad it actually is for themselves."
Can you explain how the project came about and how much research went into its development?
I made the film as a project at my university in Augsburg. I like animating and bringing pictures alive, but I hadn't done something like this film before and I somehow felt it was time to try a project this size. Also, I didn't want to create a film which had no proposition nor sense. The main topic of the film, public surveillance, is a very controversially discussed matter in my hometown (Regensburg), as it was one of the first german cities to cover an extremly wide range of the town with CCTV cameras. I didn't have to do very much research as for one I already had quite some knowledge on the topic and I didn't want to dig too deep on the subject. The film is supposed to make people think about surveillance and how good or bad it actually is for themselves.
The ending quote, “We believe that people willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both”; First, who is the “we”? And can you elaborate on this?
"We" is nobody special. There's this quote wrongly adjudicated to Ben Franklin which goes something like "He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security". This is basically what it comes down to. Do you really think a little more security is so much more important than your liberty?
What considerations went into the design aspect of the piece and how do you feel the visuals support the narration?
The first part of the film is more abstract but also very colorful, which is supposed to support the impression that politicians like to put lipstick on the pig while talking about the benefits of security. The second part is 3D and black and white and shows the other side of the medal. A bit more realistic, because of course the film is supposed to nudge you towards starting to think about this topic.
What kind of feedback have you had in regard to Big Brother State and has any of it surprised you? And what has been the biggest criticism you’ve received and how have you responded?
I've had very good feedback on the film. Most people really like it, I got a few Job-offers and a few others called me an ass-hole for being too liberal. Some people who supported the tenor of the film thought it's argument was too shallow. I don't really remember what was the biggest criticism, but I got so many e-mails after publishing the film that I actually mostly just returned a line saying "thanks for the praise" or "sorry you didn't like it".
What is your reaction to the new talking CCTV cameras?
It's scary. You actually know somebody's sitting there and watching you.
"A Chris Cunningham influenced music video will probably be next..."
I'm very fond of Jazz music, especially Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner. But I don't think they have any influence on my work. There are two directors who mainly work on music videos that I quite admire. Chris Cunningham for his ability to perfectly fit picture and sound together and Michel Gondry who is great at telling stories.
What is the future of “Hues for Alice” and are you working on any new projects at the moment?
A Chris Cunningham influenced music video will probably be next, but I don't have any proper plans for that right now. I'm still looking for the right bit of music which I can use. Maybe I'll try to compose something myself.
Currently I'm doing my internship in Frankfurt which involves some animation, some coding, some 3D visualizing, some web development (ugh!) and a lot of other interesting stuff.
Any final thoughts you would like to add?
Don't think so. Thanks for interviewing me.
Thank you for your time, David. It was a pleasure I’m looking forward to seeing your next video.
narrator Stephen Taylor