The following is an interview with writer/director Graham Jones regarding the recent release of the animated film, Silicon Docks, on YouTube. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Jones about the inspiration behind and creative process for bringing the project to life, the critical and fan response that the film has received so far, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of Silicon Docks! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about its premise, and what inspired you to bring this story to life?
Graham Jones: Thank you so much! Silicon Docks is the story of 10 tech giants, who are locked out of their European HQs due to COVID-19 and yet must urgently agree on whether to sign a new EU digital pact. They have to decide by midnight – which leads to a lot of moaning, conflict, and also a kind of weird quest to find one Irish pub that is still open! It’s a ‘scorpions in a bucket’ type of plot – we just thought it would be interesting to see these characters thrown together and forced to confront some things…
BD: What can you tell us about your creative process for bringing this project to life, especially in light of your decision to “customize” it for YouTube as its main platform for release?
GJ: Well, the movie is about the internet – in particular social media and search engines, digital environments like Twitter and YouTube and so forth. Accordingly, we felt the best place for it to be exhibited was online. One tech giant even discovers they’re trapped inside their own platform, upon which the film is streaming! It all seemed quite ‘meta’ and appropriate. The central idea is to subject these tech bros to the kind of distortion that is commonplace on their own platforms – to give them a taste of their own medicine, if you will – and where better to do so, than on the web itself?
The creative process was deeply satisfying – particularly as the pandemic was in full swing by that point and myself and also many artist friends couldn’t go out and do much shooting, or a whole lot else for that matter. Animation was far more suitable during those pandemic years, but also really suited the theme of our movie because so much of the 21st Century is lived online and has become strangely animated. Everything kind of fell into place and Kasia [Wiśniewska] and I both realised… this is just what we’re doing now! It made the pandemic a lot easier, although I did get COVID a few times…
BD: Silicon Docks has a great deal to say about social media, the age of disinformation, and internet culture on the whole. What has been your experience in sharing this story with viewers and seeing such a positive response to the narrative?
GJ: We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response and particularly the critical reaction. People seem to really ‘get’ the movie, which is gratifying. But I think a certain amount of people are thinking and feeling quite similar things nowadays, to be honest. Despite the isolation caused by the pandemic and indeed the internet itself, we are nonetheless experiencing a lot of stuff collectively. The world has gotten smaller, in some regards.
One thing I find particularly interesting is just how many of us feel uneasy about technology – that it’s not merely one side of the political spectrum. There seems to be general unease with the power such big companies have, no matter what your political affiliation. For example, I am extremely liberal and horrified by what tech can get wrong – but conservatives also have huge concerns, are equally horrified. So, that’s an interesting, dare I say ‘common,’ area to explore and certainly in the reactions we’re getting, we are seeing multiple viewpoints. It’s just the wild west, right now, on the internet, and we’re only starting to realise how powerful it is. We think we get it, but I don’t think we really do yet. I’m not just referring to the internet, but also AI and technology in general. The whole deal!
BD: What do you hope that viewers will take away from the film, and what makes film such an important medium through which to connect with other characters and their stories?
GJ: I hope our film makes people think more about technology, helps them remember that it was made by fallible people and ultimately can be changed by us the people – for better or worse. It can grow and maybe even be a force for good.
To me, film is a great medium through which to tell stories. It’s very enveloping and consuming when done right and allows you to captivate an audience in a really unique way. To put it slightly differently, I find that stories are great vessels for ideas? Narratives of any kind are much more accessible – much better than trying to win someone over with an argument. As it happens, the kinds of stories I like the most are the ones onscreen. I love them. They allow us to dream and dreaming is the key to many things.
BD: Are there any other upcoming films or projects that you would care to share with our readers?
GJ: I develop a lot more movies than end up actually getting made, so have learnt it’s best not to talk about them in advance – chances are I’ll be talking about something that will never come to fruition!
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Silicon Docks and your other work?