'Confirm Humanity' is July's Film of the Month

23 Aug 2017 in Film of the Month

8 mins
'Confirm Humanity' is July's Film of the Month

We're pleased to announce that our Film of the Month winner for July 2017 is Confirm Humanity, a short film made by Adam, aged 17, from St. Marylebone School in London.

Engaging for those aged 14+ [Suggestion of strong violence but no image of injury], Confirm Humanity sees a young man descend into an existential crisis when an online pop-up asks him to prove his humanity in this superbly deft and delicate exploration of what it is that makes us human.

A clever, interesting and insightful idea. Well thought-out and planned, with amazing lighting and camera angles. Proves that you can still make a brilliant film with no money.

Film of the Month judge on 'Confirm Humanity'

We caught up with Adam to find out more about his winning film.

Where did the idea for Confirm Humanity come from? 

Ironically, the idea for the project came about when I was browsing a short film website and was asked to subscribe to it. This is where the 'confirm humanity' pop up I used in the the film appeared. I found it rather humorously intriguing that it only took a click of a button to confirm such a complex phenomenon as our own humanity. However, when I clicked it, it said I had failed for some reason.

While in a literal sense, the request is to make sure you're not a piece of artificial software, it couldn't help but spark some existential questions about what it really means to be human. I suppose the film is a tongue in cheek, over the top manifestation of what this could mean to someone falling into an existential crisis. 

The large number of ideas and questions crammed into 90 seconds, I hoped, would convey the sense of being overwhelmed that the film's themes possess; the blurring line between technology and humanity, and what we consider the latter to really be. This messy and undeniably human uncertainty in a world ruled by 1s and 0s is therefore, likewise, messily explored in one person's journey through love, hate, hedonism and violence, places in which so many people try to find meaning. Yet he only ends up where he started, confused and staring into the abyss of his computer screen.

The look of the film is dark, but also clean and simple. What were your influences in creating the visual style? 

It's hard to pin down direct influences as I'm constantly watching films and subconsciously being inspired. The main inspiration at the time of filming I would say came from, firstly, the work of cinematographer Gordon Willis, famously nicknamed 'The Prince of Darkness' for his unflinching and hauntingly underexposed style he brought to The Godfather trilogy. I applied similar methods to create not only a darker mood but to convey the sense of isolation and confusion within that darkness. An example of this would be his use of top light that shadows the eyes of Marlon Brando and Al Pacino so effectively in The Godfather, mirrored with the lighting of my antagonist in order to strip him of remorse and empathy the way Willis and Coppola did in their timeless classics.

Focusing more on the themes of technology, I would say Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey played a large part in driving those clean and simple shots throughout. 2001 is one of my all-time favourite films and Kubrick being one of my favourite directors, his techniques and trademarks will always influence and drive my own aesthetic tastes. However, what this film in particular creates and that I wanted to apply, was its detached, minimalist cinematic approach, that seemed to mirror its technological world. He creates such a hauntingly objective view of the horrors and hardships that unfold onscreen, almost reflecting the way a robot might view such events. This therefore, perfectly fit the majority of the piece.

How do you think film can help young people deal with difficult moral issues, like the central character in Confirm Humanity?

I think whether you're going serious or tongue in cheek, it's just good to hopefully get people talking about such issues, something I believe art and media in all its forms has a vital role in doing.

What was the biggest challenge with making the film? 

The biggest challenge would definitely be having to make most of the film alone without a budget. However it forces you to get creative, which wasn't only rewarding in itself but also helped me develop as a filmmaker.

How long have you been making films and what inspired you to start?

I only started making films a few months ago on my iPhone, this one being shot on a low end Nikon I borrowed from a friend. However, a lifelong passion for cinema has driven me to believe it's what I'd like to make a career out of since filmmaking is probably the creative area that excites me most.

What inspired you to enter Film of the Month and how does it feel to win?

As someone just starting out in this I came across Into Film as a way to get noticed without the admissions fees that so many competitions charge. Winning the first time around feels unreal and has definitely given me the confidence to carry on pursuing what I want to do in life and I can't thank you enough for it.

What advice would you give to other young people who want to start making films? 

My advice would be to make the most of what's around you. Whether it's research, tutorials or opportunities to get noticed, it's all on the Internet. However, more than anything I can say is to just get creating.

What are your favourite films and why?

Always a hard question as a teenager, as tastes are always changing, but a handful of films I would say I have unwaveringly held in highest regard for many years (including the aforementioned 2001 and Godfathers Part 1 and 2), are: Fellini's 8 1/2, Goddard's Le Mepris, Scorsese's Taxi Driver, Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love, Lynch's Mulholland Drive, Hitchcock's Vertigo and Hal Ashby's Harold and Maude. Simply for the undeniable, almost physical emotional reaction each has provoked in me by the time the credits have rolled. Great films don't always share something you can define but you always know one when it has that sort of effect on you.

Adam's film will now be showcased to over 300,000 film club members online and all of our Film of the Month July films are now on the Into Film YouTube channel, and he has also secured a £100 Amazon voucher plus an Into Film goodie bag with which to help further develop their future films. If you've been inspired by July's winner, find out more about how you can enter our ongoing Film of the Month competition.

If you enjoyed Confirm Humanity, why not try these related films:

  • The Double (2013, 15, 89mins) Engaging for 14+
    Based on a Dostoevsky novella, Richard Ayoade's black comedy heavily riffs on Terry Gilliam's Brazil in following the life of a young man and his doppelgänger.
  • Her (2013, 15, 121mins) Engaging for 14+
    This typically complex effort from Spike Jonze takes our relationship with computers to the next level in a compelling futuristic romance.
  • Ex Machina (2015, 15, 104mins) Engaging for 16+
    Sci-fi writer Alex Garland's directorial debut is a taut chamber piece which explores gender, identity and the ethics of artificial intelligence.
  • Solaris (1972, 12, 166mins) Engaging for 14+
    Andrei Tarkovsky's companion piece to 2001: A Space Odyssey, this is a psychological examination of space, time and humanity.

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