“Send” is a story about the digital age of social media that is told without the use of digital conventions.
“I was interested in finding a way to represent online communications in a way that didn’t deal with texts on a screen or thought bubbles, or even images of a computer screen,” director Peter Vack told TheWrap. “All the conventions that exist didn’t appeal to me aesthetically.”
Instead, the short film — one of the finalists in TheWrap’s ShortList Film Festival — uses a stage with audience members to convey the concept of posting on sites like Facebook and Twitter.
“It wasn’t initially a stage, then the stage just felt right,” Vack said. “I feel like what we do online often does fall into the category of performance. We perform identity online. Every sort of thing we post is somewhat intended for an audience.”
“Send” tells the story of a teenage girl named Julia (played by Julia Garner, Vack’s costar in Leah Meyerhoff’s “I Believe in Unicorns”) who is separated from her boyfriend, Jake (Jake Cannavale), for the summer while he’s away at camp.
Julia’s only way of communicating with him is through social media, presumably Facebook, and their status updates are enacted onstage to a theater full of their half-interested peers. Julia, worried that her boyfriend has forgotten about her, sends him a risqué selfie and it goes viral.
Vack’s inspiration for the plot stemmed from his prep school days in New York City. A young girl — an eighth grader, he believes — made an explicit video of herself and emailed it to a boy she liked. It went viral in a very big way, causing her to switch schools.
Vack was motivated to pen the script in 2011, back when “selfie” wasn’t yet in the vernacular, after a friend told him about a similar incident that happened to her. Vack found it especially shocking that the scandal blew over and she was able to resume her life.
“It was just one of the formative, coming-of-age events in her life and she got over it and people forgot about it,” Vack recalled. “Still, it happened. It was still a new idea then.”
The film’s ending features a twist that Vack added barely a month before filming began. “Without that last scene, it just felt cold,” Vack said. “I just knew that I needed something more.”