Recently I attended a screening at Van City Theatre of the new doc ‘selfless’ which opens the conversation to the effects of selfies, social media and technology – and asks ‘What are we reaching for?’ This film was created by first time local filmmakers – a mother and daughter team who have formed Fresh Independence Productions.
I caught up with Kim Laureen the Director to chat about this timely, relevant project. With her own love for films and a curiosity for people, Kim found exploration through documentary a natural fit. Kim is a mom of eight children, all whom she sees as her greatest accomplishment in this world. “Motherhood has likely been the endurance builder that gave me the heart and wisdom to be a filmmaker,” says Kim.
The film ‘selfless’ addresses the depth of social isolation and loneliness that some feel through interactions in the digital world, which often leads to insecurity, anxiety and depression affecting mental health. Kim is concerned with the degree of narcissism in our demanding lives, where people are constantly seeking micro-celebrity status through social media pages and validation from hundreds of ethereal online friends. “Our film illustrates how overwhelming and disheartening this trend has become.”
Currently, ‘selfless’ is finding its way into schools and youth groups where conversations are beginning to flow. February 12th is a family event at Clarke Foundation Theatre in Mission with a Q&A panel discussion to follow. The filmmakers are also in talks with some distribution companies that will take ‘selfless’ across the United States and beyond.
I asked Kim what has inspired her to make this documentary. “As a mother, I became concerned with what I saw around me,” she says. “People everywhere with their heads down, staring at screens and not engaged with one another. It made me wonder where we are leading the next generation? My producer/daughter Meg and I were having a discussion, and asked one another, If a girl lived in the forest’ — no mirrors, magazines or social media. What would ‘beautiful’ look like to her and how would she view herself? Then sweet Kuki Warburton found us and off the grid we went to the hills of England and began filming.”
This small but mighty team have shared the best of themselves to create the documentary ‘selfless’. The message is so powerful that one wonders how a story that taps into so much information could come to fruition.”It was beautiful how the stars aligned and the Warburton family invited us into their home off the grid – it really opened our hearts and our eyes.” The team spent 18 months on production and post- production — some days endless, others filled with ease and enthusiasm.
“We began looking at stats and wanted to avoid pointing fingers at the problems,” Kim explains. “We wanted to reach out and touch the issues. We decided to go in through the heart — wake people up and get them to feel again — something we’ve fallen away from in a world moving so fast. One thing we’ve learned is that we are different filmmakers today than when we started the project.”
Both Kim and Megan have invested enormous amounts of time on research required to make the film. They have spent many days studying, reading and talking with people, listening to their frustrations and concerns about the obsession with electronic devices and social media. “Your social, cultural or economic status does not matter; everyone is a part of this ongoing experiment with technology and most of us don’t know we are in it,” says Kim.
Kim admits that she loved living off -grid and experiencing a different kind of life in England. “It inspired me to think more about the choices we make,” she says. “I also enjoyed watching the points of light connect along the journey as each part of the story found its place.”
The most difficult part of bringing the story to life was being unable to attain funding for the project. “In the end, the lack of financial support for ‘selfless’ became our greatest blessing as it then allowed the concept to grow purely and organically without sticky fingers on it.”
“At times, we had doubts,” Kim confides. “We kept asking ourselves whether we were doing something of substance that people would want to see. Other times, it was scary because our family and friends did not always understand the passion. Perhaps they wondered what kind of pipe dream we were following.”
“During the premiere it felt wonderful to finally be able to share our work with our family, friends, peers and to hear them say ‘we get it’. Sometimes you just have to go with your instincts.”
Finally, I asked Kim if she had a special message to the viewers. “Life is filled with so many choices,” she said. “We must not lose ourselves in a world that is tumbling down. Our hope is that viewers will plug into life because it is a truly beautiful gift.”
The team is already story boarding a sequel project and will start filming in the early spring of the New Year.
Stay connected to Fresh Independence for upcoming events and screenings of ‘selfless’.
You can also click the link below to fill out the application for a screening license to host your own event:
Another great way to get involved is to start a #RaiseTheBar club in your community – this initiative was born from discussions with teens in the film.
Interview by Lora Waugh.