Timur Bekmambetov Talks Unfriended, Ben-Hur

Timur Bekmambetov has been tapping social media to create a new cinematic language. Skype’s “share screen” function inspired Unfriended, the horror riff on And Then There Were None, in which six high school friends are stalked online by a supernatural force using a dead friend’s Facebook account, and the legendary chariot race in his Ben-Hur reboot was modeled after YouTube videos.

“People are not asking about money when posting their videos on YouTube — they’re not even asking about ownership. What they’re looking for is ‘likes.’ And the internet provides what they’re looking for.”

But the internet also leads to a scary lack of privacy, which Bekmambetov realized after peeking into a colleague’s private online world during a Skype call, rendering everything he did on his computer transparent, including his thought process. This led to Bekmambetov coming up with the idea for Unfriended, which he produced and his good friend Levan Gabriadze directed.

“We are one big social network,” Bekmambetov proclaimed. “Once you post something, it’s out there…forever.”

But the filmmaker doesn’t think of Unfriended as a genre movie. It’s dressed as horror to capture a wider audience. “I think it’s just good, interesting drama…very edgy, with relatable characters.”

Meanwhile, Bekmambetov’s re-imagining of Ben-Hur, which he’s currently shooting at the famed Cinecittà Studios in Rome (reaping the rewards of a generous 25% tax break for Paramount and MGM), will be just as edgy and cutting edge as Unfriended.

“I’m using more of YouTube videos to find ideas and style for the camera work and how people behave,” the director admitted. “The chariot race today is like Formula 1. It’s a different technique, with a lot of whip pans and zooming [and VFX by Mr. X].” And there’s an assortment of digital cameras being used on the movie (Red, Alexa, GoPro).”

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Clips, Crafts, Movies, previs, Tech, Trailers, VFX, Virtual Production

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