Larissa Rhodes interview: ‘The Social Dilemma’ producer

While Jeff Orlowski was very passionate about tackling social media in “The Social Dilemma,” the film’s producer, Larissa Rhodes, questioned the importance of the subject matter. “We thought we have really big existential crises that we need to tackle–climate change being one of them. How was this story and this message on par with any of those kind of big scale problems,” Rhodes tells us during our recent webchat (watch the video above). But as she started to hear what former insiders from Silicon Valley and industry experts were saying in their interviews, her point-of-view quickly came around. “It really became clear how detrimental the social media platforms and search companies were to our society.”

“The Social Dilemma,” which is currently streaming on Netflix, skewers the way that social media companies depend on getting people hooked to consuming content through their platforms. The film further details how this business model has had a corrosive effect on society as well as the mental health of the platform’s users. The documentary snagged seven Emmy nominations this year including one for Best Documentary or Nonfiction Special as well as nominations for Nonfiction Writing and Nonfiction Directing.

Rhodes also found herself wondering how everything would be communicated through the film. “I kept thinking, is this going to be a film or we’re just going to see a bunch of engineers and coders clicking and clacking away on their computer? How visual is that of a movie?” Orlowski threaded that needle by creating a parallel narrative of a family experiencing the negatives of social media and found several sources of inspiration including “The Big Short” and “Inside Out.” “I think we were striving to find that type of mechanism for us to use for storytelling. It was really needing a lot more to draw people in and really give people that visualization of how we’re actually being puppeteered and manipulated.”

The reception the film initially received was a lot for Rhodes to take in but nothing prepared her for the love that the TV Academy showed the film when nominations were released last month. “I was completely speechless and just so proud of this team. I think the seven nominations is just a really big testament to all of the crew of almost 800 people working on this film.” It was also a humbling accomplishment because of the sheer number of projects that they were competing with just to get nominated. “It was such an incredible year for storytelling as a whole, so we just feel really, really honored and extremely excited just to be in this cohort.”

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UPLOADED Aug 17, 2021 11:30 am