In the U.S. alone, there are approximately 30 million surveillance cameras capturing more than four billion hours of footage every week—of you! That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, embarrassing “captured on video” moments aren’t just for the likes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. And moviemaker Adam Rifkin found that out the hard way—when he received a ticket in the mail, accompanied by a photo of him driving through a traffic light. After further research, Rifkin discovered that he is certainly not alone; the average American is captured on video more than 200 times a day. But rather than just pay his fine and be done with the incident, Rifkin decided to make a movie, too.
Shot entirely from the point of view of surveillance cameras, Rifkin’s LOOK, which comes to DVD today courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment, is already garnering a strong dose of Blair Witch-like buzz for its experimental nature and box office potential. Will it clean up the way its indie predecessor did? Rifkin, for one, has his fingers crossed… and his “toes, legs, arms and ears.”
Jennifer M. Wood (MM): Considering the rising popularity of Websites like TMZ, where the entire world can watch celebrities make fools of themselves mere minutes after the occurrence, LOOK is really prescient. Is it true that the idea for the film occurred to you after being caught on camera running a red light?
Adam Rifkin (AR): Yes, the idea for LOOK first hatched when I received a ticket from a red light camera. When I opened the letter from the police department it was a crystal clear photo of me making an idiotic expression, singing to the radio while running the light. The idea that someone could take my photo without my knowledge and send it to my home was completely unnerving. After that I started paying attention to other cameras that might be taking my picture without my knowledge, and little by little I started to realize that these cameras are everywhere!
When we see websites like TMZ it’s easy to assume that it’s only celebrities who are living under a microscope, but in actuality we all are. Over 200 cameras a day are recording our every move. Just watch YouTube—it’s packed with everyday people’s most embarrassing and private moments. We’re a culture of voyeurs, we love to peep in on what shouldn’t be our business, whether it’s famous people’s business or not.
MM: The film is really a traditional cinematic experience—it’s a tightly wound thriller—yet, because of the shooting style, it makes it feel so much more. Was it your intention to almost create a new sort of genre in the making of this film?
AR: I wouldn’t go so far as to say that my intention was to redefine cinema, but I definitely wanted to experiment with something different. I wanted to shoot the film in a way that I had never seen a film shot before. And yes, my goal was to force people to view the film from a voyeur’s point of view. Watching the drama unfold from a deliberate distance, through the eyes of these dispassionate surveillance cameras, makes the viewer an accomplice to something shameful. Instead of empathizing with the characters and experiencing the cinematic journey through their eyes, we’re staring in on their most private moments without their knowledge from the outside. We’re seeing things that we shouldn’t be seeing and I always felt that this would add a fresh layer to the drama.
MM: A lot of people are already comparing LOOK to The Blair Witch Project—not just because of the low-key production and lack of big-name actors, which lead people to wonder “is it real,” but because of the box office predictions. People think this may just be the sleeper hit of the year. Are your fingers crossed? What is your ultimate hope for the film?
AR: That would be a dream come true. When making an independent film these days, there’s never a guarantee that it’ll be seen by anyone at all. I’m thrilled that LOOK is getting such a classy theatrical release from Liberated Artists and I’m ecstatic that people are responding to the movie. As far as box office predictions? Yes, my fingers are definitely crossed… as are my toes, legs, arms and ears.
MM: Final question: As you did more research for the film, and found out the statistics on how many times people are photographed per day, did you have any nervous flashbacks to something you’d done when you thought you were alone—and then wondered…
AR: There would be only one negative to LOOK reaching Blair Witch sized success, if we become that big someone inevitably is gonna be motivated to search out and find all of my most embarrassing secrets. On second thought… it’d be worth it!