Filmed in London, Oxford, Basel, Paris and Seattle, Selfie is an experimental documentary about the culture of selfies – comprised almost entirely of selfies.
Selfie tells the story of how the image virus began to take control in the nineteenth century. During the twentieth century, its grip increased. And in the twenty first century, it began to run rampant throughout humanity.
Context: In the 1930s humans took one billion photos per annum. Today, humans take 300 billion photos per year. 30 per cent of these are of 18 to 24 year olds. Many of these are selfies. There has been a 17,000 per cent increase in the use of the word selfie in 2013 alone, meaning it became the Oxford English Dictionary’s Word of the Year. Mainly women take selfies, followed by men over the age of 40.
In the film, director William Brown declares himself a sufferer of the image virus. Its grip on him was fast and almost imperceptible. At first he thought that the images were proof of his body’s existence – but he comes to realise that the images have as their goal to give themselves existence, to sustain themselves. The image virus attaches itself to the human body, and the body then begins to make images, becoming simply a means of transmitting and propagating images. Images are thus a virus.
William, and much of humanity with him, is therefore sick with the malady of self-recording. He sees himself and other people planning their day around when and where they might self-record, so disciplined have their bodies become, so under the control of the image virus.
To understand selfie culture, William, like Seth Brundle in The Fly, decides to take selfies in order to understand this phenomenon from within.
Shot between January and May 2014, Selfie is an intelligent film-essay/experimental documentary on selfie culture.
Eagle-eyed viewers might well spot one or two performers from previous Beg Steal Borrow films in Selfie, including Hannah Croft (En Attendant Godard) and Kristina Gren (En Attendant Godard, Common Ground).
The film also features cameos from filmmaker Andrea Luka Zimmerman, New York-based newsreader Diane Reis, Spanish actress Eulalia Ramón and others. Various of the people who feature in Selfie, including Alexandra Brown, Ariadne Bullen, Annette Hartwell and Grace Ker, also feature in the 2015 Beg Steal Borrow fiction film, The New Hope – with Alexandra Brown having also fulfilled various roles in previous Beg Steal Borrow films.