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Springboard: ‘Heart Machine’ Director Zachary Wigon Talks Dating Apps and the Influence of ‘Eyes Wide Shut’

Springboard: 'Heart Machine' Director Zachary Wigon Talks Dating Apps and the Influence of 'Eyes Wide Shut'

Every Friday, Indiewire’s Springboard column profiles an up-and-comer in the indie world who deserves your attention.

If you’ve ever felt ambivalent about modern love, Zachary Wigon’s “The Heart Machine” is a film you’ll want to see. Texting, apps, Skype over long distances and whatever garden variety of Internet romance keeps you up at night, this movie addresses it. “The Heart Machine” is fresh off a successful SXSW run and it features some familiar faces in John Gallagher Jr. (“The Newsroom,” “Short Term 12”) and Kate Lyn Sheil (“You’re Next,” “House of Cards”). We spoke with writer/director Zachary Wigon and the conversation ranged from Facebook faux pas, to Stanley Kubrick, to the time he found Norman Mailer’s house.

I’ve never had anything quite like [“The Heart Machine” happen]. [laughs] The idea sort of germinated in real life, it began in real life, but my hyperactive anxieties kind of snowballed it. After I got out of school a few years back I was in a relationship with a woman… after a couple months it became long distance almost exclusively for the next eight months. It was striking because the relationship was going very well when it was conducted exclusively over Skype. Then when she came back like eight months later it was immediately clear this was a terrible connection.

Whether the film is a drama, a romance or thriller, it’s up to the
It has elements of all those genres, but we wanted it to feel
like a thriller.

I’m in a relationship, but in the past I’ve used Ok Cupid, used Tinder…out of just more…curiosity. Research.

It’s rather strange how we relate to each other. If you think about Tinder, that being an app where you almost turn a sexual encounter into a commodity transaction. Like “Ok, you’re nearby, let’s meet up and fuck for ten minutes. You’re not a serial killer, I’m not a serial killer.” There’s something about the commodity nature of that that eliminates the messiness and the humanity of getting to know someone and it being a little awkward.

Folks who are middle aged or even a little bit older often come up to me and say, “It’s interesting to get a little bit of a peek into the social world my kids are engaging in. I feel like I didn’t really understand the way some of it works, but now I feel I have a little bit better understanding.”

Personally, my favorite neighborhood in New York would probably be Brooklyn Heights. I was walking there once years ago. Somehow I found Norman Mailer’s address, he was still alive, I really wanted to see what his house looked like! [laughs]

I write film criticism for the Village Voice. In the process of editing the movie, I really did feel like I started to understand narrative construction in a more intimate manner.

There weren’t too many [films that were] larger thematic influences on the film. Most thematic influences were articles I read about online dating. There was one cinematic influence. It’s always a little funny to cite a film like this because it’s such a masterpiece, but “Eyes Wide Shut,” just as a portrait of a guy who is thrown into obsession by potential indiscretion. And then, he sets out on odyssey to try to rectify his being wrong. But I’m in no way comparing! “Eyes Wide Shut” is one of the greatest movies ever made.

READ MORE: Watch: ‘The Heart Machine’ Trailer Will Scare You Out of Online Dating

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