SXSW 2018: Social Animals

Social Animals. Credit: Justin Loera.

Social Animals is a documentary that explores the how and why people decide to use Instagram as a social media tool and what followers, likes, and comments mean.

With over 700 million active users of the social media app, it would be practically impossible to make a documentary about every single person that uses Instagram.  Instead, it must be whittled down to just a few people in order to make even a decent documentary.  Wisely, Jonathan Ignatius Green narrows down the Instagram users to New York-based photographer Humza Deas, aspiring swimsuit model Kaylyn Slevin, and your average Midwestern girl next door, Emma Crockett.  While these three are at the core of the film, there are others included such as Demid Lebedev, who was arrested after posting photos following a climb up 432 Park Avenue in Manhattan, N.Y.

“Literally, social media is a job,” Emma Crockett says about Instagram.  “I don’t really like it but I keep doing it.”

It’s such a true statement.  Take it from a film critic such as myself, we have to constantly be putting our content out there on social media.  Anyway, Emma shares her rules for Instagram and it’s some good advice for what it’s worth.

At the same time though, social media can take a toll on someone like Emma.  As the filmmakers follow Emma’s story and get to know her, we found out about the threats against her life.  These threats are what led her to transfer high schools and take her account private.  She even had to go in for treatment because of depression.

As for Kaylyn Slevin, she doesn’t consider herself a celebrity even as she has over 450,000 Instagram followers.  Hate to say it but this kind of makes Kaylyn a celebrity by social media standards.

Some brands will reach out to Instagram users with huge followings as a way to spread awareness of their brands.  It may come with a nice pay day.  This is what happened for photographer Humza Deas when Adidas offered a whopping $10,000 for a photo shoot!  This payday leads the photographer to be able to travel the world, which in turn leads to more photos–and to think that until is big break, he had never even left New York City.

One of the fun things about the opening credits is that filmmakers tied in the Instagram theme by using their Instagram handles as the opening titles were displayed on screen.  Don’t worry–the end titles displayed their names.

What Social Animals ultimately does is take us on a journey in order to see what Instagram users will do to be successful.

DIRECTOR:  Jonathan Ignatius Green
SCREENWRITERS:  Carol Martori, Jonathan Ignatius Green, Peter Garriott
FEATURING:  Humza Deas, Kaylyn Slevin, Emma Crockett

An official selection of the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, Social Animals premieres as part of the Documentary Feature Competition.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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