"Rumour has it that getting engaged is a really special moment, so it seems a bit mad that the main focus in this day and age is to capture it on celluloid. Aren't you meant to be staring into each others eyes and shit?" confesses filmmaker Alicia MacDonald.
This week, London Shorts showcases MacDonald's zeitgeisty comedy Otherwise Engaged. When Dave (Mark Quartley) kneels down on one knee to propose to Meg (Hannah Arterton) at the top of Primrose Hill it's a perfect romantic moment — until the couple get caught up in an online validation frenzy with the number of likes, thumbs up and retweets becoming more important than the proposition itself.
MacDonald tells Londonist: "I'm definitely guilty of spending too much time and energy on social media and hate myself for it. But I really hope the obsession with portraying one’s life as filtered and perfect will reach saturation point soon. I think our online personae might be taking over in a creepy Ex Machina way — imagine if the shiny, soft-focused and uncommonly perky person you present online was brought to life in a Frankenstein's monster moment. It'd be like Barbie becoming a real human."
"I don't think we present rounded versions of ourselves online; I've got friends whose Instagram feeds look like they're in a Thomson package holiday advert but when I see them in the pub they're having an awful time of it. I’ve also had friends text me and say: 'Can you like that pic I just put on Facebook?’ — I mean, how did we get so insecure?"
MacDonald's characters may be heightened but most people with an online profile will identify — something that has surely contributed to the popularity of the film. "I’ve had people contact me from all over the world saying they liked it or didn’t like it. The thing I've found most hilarious is the number of people asking me if I know Ashton Kutcher [he put a link to the film on his facebook page]. I'm like: 'Of course I don't chuffing know Ashton Kutcher! Who knows Ashton Kutcher?'"
Alicia MacDonald is currently working on her next short film, also a comedy but this time set in 1946 — no doubt a nice holiday away from the concerns of generation selfie.
Want to be featured? If you have a London-themed short film that you’d like us to consider for this series, send an email with the subject “London Shorts” to Stu Black and Ioanna Karavela via our email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To see other London Shorts click here.