At the Los Angeles premiere of People You May Know, stars Nick Thune, Kaily Smith Westbrook, Usher Raymond IV, Ian Harding, Nick Rutherford, and director/writer Sherwin Shilati were in attendance to discuss the timely film.
Social media rules everything around us. With our eyes locked on our cellphones, we often become mindlessly fixated on the day-to-day minutiae of total strangers. Director and writer Sherwin Shilati and producer Shelley Stevens – a real life power couple – set out to explore, in a romantic dramedy, society’s dependence on social media.
People You May Know follows Jed (Thune), an introvert who is convinced by a social media guru (Halston Sage) to build an online presence. By constructing a false persona (and Photoshopping himself beside Usher, who attended the premiere with Stevie Wonder), Jed quickly becomes internet famous. He soon realizes people on the internet are often not who they say they are.
“Social media is a blessing and a curse. We’re toddlers on it, learning how to play with this new toy,” said Rutherford (writer on Saturday Night Live), who portrays Jed’s best friend, Will. This “toy” has real life consequences.
Case in point, Westbrook’s Franky reconnects with Jed, a former high school classmate, after stumbling upon his Facebook profile late one night. Franky, like Jed, has secrets of her own she meticulously hides from others – like the fact she’s married. “What we’d like people to take away from this movie is to be more authentic and mindful,” said Westbrook. “Every time you’re just posting something amazing, you’re giving other people this false sense of self.”
Thankfully, Harding (Pretty Little Liars), who plays Franky’s husband, has never been tempted to create a false internet persona. “I have enough friends who would come up to me and say, ‘What’s this picture of you with an Italian supermodel, next to a Ferrari? You can’t even drive stick,’” he joked.
For Stevens and Shilati, however, the film reaffirmed their concerns about social media. “We’ve had a significant stance on social media for a while,” said Stevens. “Then, [Shilati and I] had a daughter and, of course, when that happens, you begin to think about things for them.”
“When we were kids, if we had issues at school, that happened for eight hours. You would get to go home and fire up Nintendo, but now these issues follow us 24/7,” said Shilati. “It’s important to be thoughtful of how we use [social media]. If that’s the message the film can give, it’ll be a really strong one.”
Although Shilati and Stevens are concerned about their daughter’s inevitable social media usage, Thune (Dave Made a Maze, Mr. Roosevelt) found himself in trouble on Instagram because of his son. “I think [social media] is a joke,” Thune remarked. “My Instagram was shut down because I posted a picture of my three-year-old son taking a shit. There’s so much worse stuff out there than a kid shitting!” When asked about upcoming projects, Thune casually mentioned he will be in the upcoming Marvel film Venom, alongside Tom Hardy.
People You May Know is available on demand and digital HD on November 28 from The Orchard.
Watch the trailer below: