What’s the worst that could happen?
For millennials, FOMO, or the “Fear of Missing Out“, is all too real. Knowing that most people live vicariously through their smartphones today makes this especially true. To put your phone down for just a second would run the risk of missing an important ping of an inbox, text message, tweet or voicemail. Who knows what could be behind those notifications, a new job offer, juicy gossip, a text back from bae? The anticipation of the unknown is what keeps us hooked and unable to miss a second of screen time. Taking this FOMO to the 100th degree are filmmakers and directors Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson where they posed the question, “What’s the worst that could happen?” The result was the inspiration for their new film.
Save Yourselves! is about a young Brooklyn couple, played by Sunita Mani and John Reynolds, who head upstate to disconnect from their phones and reconnect with themselves. Cut off from their devices, they miss the news that the planet is under attack by aliens. We sat down with Alex Huston Fischer, Eleanor Wilson, Sunita Mani and John Reynolds to talk about their new film.
The Knockturnal: This movie is a perfect blend of comedy and sci-fi. Where did the story come from?
Alex Fischer: The premise was Eleanor’s idea.
Eleanor Wilson: Yeah I think just my irrational fears of not being connected to things. I had an idea of people going off the grid and the betrayal of one person turning on their phone, that was a very small idea and then I was like..ALIENS! (laughs) and that became this whole other thing that became a comedy and then we realized, oh this in an allegory. It sort of expanded from there.
Alex Fischer: We were happy to write a story about phones but we didn’t want to show phones or show texts. I really appreciate movies that show you how sad it is when people make Instagram videos. It’s the saddest thing ever to see someone making those. It’s not attractive to us as filmmakers, but we were happy to write something about phones.
The Knockturnal: I love the theme, the fear of disconnecting. Do you find time to turn off your devices when you can?
Sunita Mani: I like don’t have that healthy relationship, it’s terrible. It’s part of my job and my purpose to be at the right place at the right time. There’s just this instantaneous “I can be there!” with getting an email. There’s this weird gut response and feeling lost without it.
Alex Fischer: I do really like putting my phone on airplane mode and that silence for like the whole day.
Eleanor Wilson: Movies, I always turn my phone fully off whenever we’re in a movie. That’s the only time I turn my phone completely off.
John Reynolds: I’ll be on set sometimes and just leave my phone in the trailer so then I don’t look at it and then I’m just present. Which is nice but I don’t do that all the time.
The Knockturnal: Sunita and John, could you relate to your characters at all in the film?
Sunita Mani: There’s a lot of helplessness and overcorrecting (my character) Su does and just like dealing with that anxiety and panic before it’s actually there. That’s like just her gear and I kind of relate to that.
John Reynolds: I would say I have a lot of friends that remind me of (my character) Jack and one of my best friends in particular reminds me a lot of him. Just the idea of not wanting to do classic masculine ideal things and not knowing how. I have a lot of friends who are quiet illustrators who say things like “sports ball”and stuff like that.
The Knockturnal: You both have backgrounds in comedy, it must have been really fun working together on set!
Sunita Mani: What a dream to make a movie with your friends, Upstate in the summer in a cabin!
Eleanor Wilson: We got so lucky that everyone got along. I didn’t realize how much everyone was connecting. It was always a lot of fun.