UW alumni take closer look at online fame in new film

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Brother-sister team and UW grads David and Elizabeth Lam released their first feature film, Viral Beauty, a tech comedy about online fame starring Perez Hilton and currently making the festival rounds.

“Viral Beauty uses bleeding edge technologies and interactive web communications, creating a striking portrait of the online world. It showcases a world obsessed with celebrities, starring real social media personalities with a collective reach of 10+ million subscribers as they react to the tumultuous rise to fame of the film’s protagonist Marsha Day (Casey Killoran),” according to a press release from the filmmaker. 

“The film blends elements of dark comedy, satire, and biting social commentary. It also explores deeper issues of cyber bullying, complexities of standards of beauty, and addictions to fame, consumerism, and technology.”

Director and executive producer David who studied math, CS, and drama at UW said that he and his sister Elizabeth, who was in CS at UW and wrote the film, have always been interested in the combination of arts and technology. This project combines social media and technology, which David finds “inherently dramatic, performance-based, presentational, as if the YouTube generation is performing an idea of themselves.”

David and Elizabeth took the ideas they had for the film and developed a script exploring issues such as cyberbullying. More specifically, what happens when an overweight woman puts herself out there on the Internet, and how cyberbullying happens and is dealt with in that situation. 

David said getting into the film industry was like getting a taste of what a startup is like, because he was working on co-ordinating a team of people to get behind his vision. 

After this experience, David wants to continue making art that focuses on the younger generation, complexities of technology, and human interaction with it. 

David’s advice to students is that collaboration is key. He feels that he was lucky in working with his sister and having one of his close friends star in the project. David remembered that a task that first seemed insurmountable was made pleasant because he found good collaborators. 

“Seek out good collaborators in undergrad, find people you gel with and create with them; you’ll find it’s easier and hurdles are less scary in good company,” David said.

He also said he believes that the experimental and self-directional drama program at UW really taught him the entrepreneurial skills that he needed and helped with the courage it took to dive into this project.

As for working with Perez Hilton, David said: “He’s hilarious, he was game to try anything which is why he is so dynamic and so much fun to work with and watch.”

Check out the trailer for the film below: 

 

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