SXSW 2015: ‘Creative Control’ wraps well-worn ideas in a shiny new package


Creative Control
Written by Micah Bloomberg and Benjamin Dickinson
Directed by Benjamin Dickinson
USA, 2015

Benjamin Dickinson’s Creative Control is right at home premiering at SXSW, a festival that touts the convergence of technology and film. Playing with perception and exploring the place of relationships and the ego within tomorrow’s technological landscape, the film will seem familiar to fans of UK television show Black Mirror. With the ever-pressing concerns of self-driving cars and artificial intelligence, the film may explore very familiar ideas philosophizing technology, but thanks to dark, bleak humor and sleek visuals, Creative Control is far from rote.

The film opens on David (Benjamin Dickinson) as he goes about his day in the overly sterilized offices of an ad agency. The task at hand: develop an approach to market the Augmenta company’s new virtual reality glasses. David finally gets the chance to assert control over his own campaign by enlisting the eclectic, multi-hyphenate Reggie Watts (playing himself) to help express the product. At home, David scuttles with his polar opposite, yoga instructor girlfriend, Juliette (Nora Zehetner), over issues with intimacy, and then back at work he grows closer to Sophie (Alexia Rasmussen), the girlfriend of his womanizing friend Wim (Dan Gill).

With a pair of test product Augmenta glasses in hand, David opts to create a fantasized avatar of office crush Sophie. As he is bombarded with pressures from work and unhappiness at home, David retreats into creating the perfect affair with Sophie — without Sophie. In her place is the the illusion of an affair and a fantasy of a woman that completely forsakes emotional connection. David continues to supplant human contact with the glasses, drugs and scotch to the extent that reality and fantasy dangerously blur.

This downward spiral is sleekly captured by cinematographer Adam Newport-Berra. Filmed in stark blacks and whites with appropriate punctuations of color, Creative Control is a fresh and uncomfortable look at the inevitable death of human intimacy, whether it be by techy glasses or base human awfulness.

— David Tran


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