Matt Spicer

Matt SpicerDirector Matt Spicer discusses his debut feature film Ingrid Goes West

by Joanna Orland

With his debut feature Ingrid Goes West, director Matt Spicer seems a bit surprised by his own success. The film, which was a hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and has garnered rave reviews ever since its debut, came to fruition through a casual conversation between old friends. “Well, my cowriter Dave and I… we were just having lunch in L.A. and talking about our sort of mutual love of Instagram, but also the fact that it makes us feel bad about ourselves,” explains Matt. “And I think just being in L.A. and looking around and seeing everyone working on their brand and like how people portray their lives on Instagram, we just thought it was really interesting and there was something there to explore.”

Good ideas have a way of getting under the skin, and with the concept of Ingrid Goes West, Matt knew he and Dave were on to something. “I think [Dave] maybe said something to the effect of ‘wouldn’t it be funny if there was like a Talented Mr. Ripley or something, you know, for the social media generation?’ I think we kind of laughed, but then I found myself thinking about it for days after – our little joke turned into something that actually would become a movie.”

The Los Angeles location seems to have been as much of an inspiration for Matt as much as The Talented Mr. Ripley. “I think L.A. is just sort of an epicentre, cultural epicentre in some ways, of the entertainment industry. And so it’s very image conscious,” he elaborates. “And so from a thematic standpoint, I think it made sense.” While heavily inspired by the L.A. culture which surrounded him, Matt realizes that his film’s themes transcend location and national culture, “I was just in Hong Kong and we screened the film there and it’s the same reactions from people… It’s become a global phenomenon.”

Matt’s film acts as a scathing satire on Generation Instagram, commenting on the pitfalls of living life via social media, and how it effects our mental well-being. “Yes, the commentary is how I hope people would read it,” he agrees. “We definitely didn’t, you know, make the film to portray Ingrid as any kind of role model in any way,” he says. “If anything, she’s the opposite. You know, she’s sort of what not to do, how not to do things.”

Beyond satire and commentary, the film does have a very modern takeaway. Matt explains, “I think if there’s any message to the film, it’s that – don’t ignore the people that are around you that are in your life that care about you that are real people, and go chasing a mirage or something that you see online.” Delving deep into what is real and what is an online illusion, Ingrid Goes West explores this idea from various character standpoints, giving a well-rounded depiction of the subject matter. “I think everybody has a sort of public and a private persona to a certain degree, but it’s taken on this kind of almost life of its own with social media, where you can curate,” states Matt. “The irony is that we’ve created this technology that’s supposed to link us together, but what really links people together is our flaws and our insecurities and the things that we don’t want to share – that’s what actually binds us together. So by hiding all that stuff, we’re actually connecting less. And so I think if anything, I’m hoping that people decide to share more of themselves, their real selves online and realize that ‘oh, we all have these flaws, we all have these things, that’s what makes us all human beings’.”

An insightful satire to say the least, the film is likely to make a social impact more than the average comedy. “My goal with the film is that people will come away and start re-evaluating their own use of social media and hopefully make a positive decision for how they’re going to use it moving forward,” reveals Matt.

Capturing the cultural zeitgeist of the social media age, Ingrid Goes West has managed to delve deeper than the average comedy while maintaining its dark sense of humour. “Somebody described the film yesterday as a ‘sadcom’. I like that term, instead of a romcom,” says Matt. “If you like a good sadcom, check it out.”

Ingrid Goes West is in cinemas from 17th November.

Watch Ingrid Goes West on iTunes.

Our review of Ingrid Goes West

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