How do we meet others and communicate ideas in an online world where clicks and likes reflect our popularity? And how does this affect those who lack the confidence to move beyond the digital landscape? These questions surround our continually changing relationship with the internet as we live increasingly in the personal digital caves of our creation. For many, the opportunities presented by this insular digital world are of preference to the real ones outside their door; after all, physical meetings are often ruled by anxiety and fear. These themes find a voice in Marc Cartwright’s new short film We Die Alone, a deliciously short dark tale that brims with confidence.
Aidan (Baker Chase Powell) spends his days in a bubble of social anxiety, his fear of new connections preventing him from meeting people and finding the romance he desperately seeks. As a result, Aidan searches online for love, but despite his longing, he never gets further than brief online messages. But when a young woman named Chelsea (Samantha Boscarino) moves into the apartment across the hall, Aidan finally feels he may have found the one, his heart pounding with excitement as he invites her over for a night of puzzles and pizza. But does Chelsea feel the same? And can Aidan finally escape the bubble of insecurity that holds him hostage?
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Hi Baker. Thank you for talking to us about the exceptional short film ‘We Die Alone.’ Can we start by asking how you got involved in the project? And what drew you to the character of Aidan?
The director, Marc, and I have worked together on several projects and have our own production company, Glass Cabin Films, so I was pretty much involved with this project from its inception. I was immediately interested in the character of Aiden, as I’m always drawn to multi-layered characters who are presented with some struggle they must overcome. I love playing characters that can be perceived as innocent or unassuming to the public but could also harbour a dark, mysterious side underneath.
Aidan is complex, occasionally creepy, awkward and yet tender; how did you prepare for such a nuanced role?
I think there is a bit of “Aiden” in all of us. Though he is an extreme example, I think most of us can relate to a time in our lives when we were self-conscious or nervous about a relationship or how others perceived us. I used some of my own life experiences to connect with the characters and amplified them to fit the story’s narrative.
The interface between real-world connection and online communication sits firmly at the heart of We Die Alone. Do you think the internet opens a new world or enhances loneliness for those with low confidence or anxiety?
I think there are good and bad – the good being that the internet and social media allow us to express ourselves openly in ways that maybe we wouldn’t be able to in real life, and also allow for us to make connections with people whom we may never have had the chance to meet.
But the downside, I believe, is that while it allows us to create a presence for ourselves, whether on social media, dating sites, or career-oriented platforms, it may not always be the most truthful presence. The internet creates this buffer between who we really are and how the public perceives us, thus allowing us to stretch the truth or exaggerate, or even flat-out lie, about who we are or our intentions. When you’re connecting with people based only on what you think they want, the connection is inauthentic and only furthers your quest for real human connection.
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There is something intrinsically old-fashioned about Aidan, from his love of jigsaw puzzles to the retro dial phone he uses at home. This almost creates a sense that he is living in the wrong time. Do you think his social anxiety relates to a modern world he does not feel a part of?
Though he didn’t grow up when dial phones were the norm, I think Aiden finds comfort in the past, drawing from a time that is so different from the present (like he sees himself) that he can escape and feel safe.
We passionately believe in the power of short films to take creative risks in bringing new stories to the table. COVID-19 has hit film production hard; how important do you feel that short film continues to thrive and offer creativity?
I think, as an artist, even though our industry has shut down, it’s essential to continue creating. Short films are the perfect way to stay creative, whether on your own as a 1-man show or with others (using safety measures, of course), and who knows, that short could be the beginning of a full feature one day!
Finally, what’s next for you?
I am currently working on a feature-length script, a horror drama based in the 1990s South. I hope to get it off the ground once the world returns to normal!
Director: Marc Cartwright
We Die Alone is available on Amazon Prime from the 21st of August 2020, and Gunpowder and Sky Alter this Halloween
For more information, visit the We Die Alone webpage