Fascinated by her students’ unwillingness to talk to each other when they were sitting just a few feet away, Bennett and husband Daniel Lir set out to write and direct “Text Me,” a short film that takes a deeper look at the so-called “texting generation.”
“It’s done in a very light way, the opposite of preachy,” said Bennett. “It basically makes the audience look at themselves.”
The film is about two teenagers who meet on Spacebook (a spoof of Facebook) and fall in love over the Internet. Once they meet in person, however, things get awkward because neither is what the other expects. They spend the entire date texting their friends. At one point, the waiter asks, “Do you want to text me your order?”
Matt Bennett (no relation to Bayou Bennett), the male lead role in the film, one of the stars in the Nickelodeon series “Victorious,” helped write the script. His character is dorky and quirky, and the directors have likened him to the next Michael Cera.
“I want to make films that are real and bring people through the emotions and feel they can relate to the characters,” said [Bayou] Bennett. “It’s the whole generation of online dating and how you can create an entire image of yourself and be completely different in real life.”
Lir said one of the goals was to represent the younger generation, which was successfully done using references to texting lingo, shorthand language and mentions of the Olsen twins and the Jonas Brothers. Though the main characters are about 17 years old, audiences of all ages will enjoy the film and have their thoughts and emotions stirred.
He pointed out that as people move further into the age of technology, they do bizarre things like break up with each other over a text message or an email.
“You’re strengthening one skill and weakening another,” said Lir. “It’s about getting away from digital communication and getting back to real human interaction.”
Bennett added that the directing duo is constantly looking at the environment for things that can be improved and commenting on them in a funny and engaging way. “Text Me” is not bashing technology and digital communication; in fact, both Lir and Bennett frequently use Facebook to interact with their friends and fans.
“We’re going to go with the times but you can’t forget to have good old-fashioned politeness,” said Bennett. “Instead of just trying to get your message across quickly, remember to say ‘thank you’ and ask ‘how are you?’”
“This is the 21st century,” added Lir. “Meet the texting generation.”
“Text Me” will be screened on August 14 at the New York City International Film Festival. For more information visit www.textmefilm.com and www.nyciff.com.