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(Someone Else’s Heart is the co-winner of the December 2012 Hammer to Nail Short Film Contest. Visit Zachary Wigon’s official website for contact information.)

Is our increasing dependence on virtual communication deforming the way we interact with others in our real, everyday lives? Isn’t there something inherently strange about all this “how many friends and followers do you have” business of late? While the internet is without question an incredibly useful contribution to our modern world, on the other side of that coin, take a few steps back and watch someone “interacting” with their computer. Whether they are playing online poker or writing an email or reading a work of great literature or speaking with a loved one, there they are, just sitting there, their glazed eyes mesmerized by a flat, glowing screen.

In Someone Else’s Heart, writer/director Zachary Wigon explores his own suspicions about the puzzling direction in which romantic human interaction has been heading in the early 21st century. Though Wigon’s film asks more questions than it answers—in a good way, mind you—by the end, his point is made very clear: before you start dating someone, you should probably actually meet them first.

New York City resident Harrie (David Gelles) is having a choppy Skype session with his girlfriend Madeline (Libby Woodbridge), who is living in Berlin at the moment. At first, one assumes that Harrie and Madeline are living apart from each other because of a work or school obligation. But at one point, Madeline asks Harrie a jarring, troubling question: “What if you meet me and I’m ugly?” What if he meets her? Apparently, Harrie and Madeline’s has been a virtual, long distance relationship all along, which obviously raises a few red flags.

On this day, when Harrie and Madeline hang up their computers, a literal siren goes off in Harrie’s mind, sparking some internet-enhanced detective work that leads him to question if Madeline is who—or, rather, where—she says she is. That night, Harrie’s search leads him to a Manhattan nightclub, where he innocently interacts with Vicky (Liz Holtan), a Facebook friend of Madeline’s. With the stealth of an A-level detective, Harrie tracks down some more concrete details. Which leads to his next and final stop: Brooklyn. Here Harrie learns an uncomfortable truth about “his girlfriend.”

Though technically a drama, Someone Else’s Heart has the creeping tension of a cyber-thriller, thanks in large part to the work of cinematographer Chris Teague, editor David Barker, composer Christoph Hochheim, and sound designer Gregg Swiatlowski. But Someone Else’s Heart is ultimately Zachary Wigon’s show. Best known up until now as a film journalist (for indieWIRE, Movieline, Slant Magazine, MUBI, and others), Wigon proves with this haunting 17-minute film that he is a startlingly assured writer/director in his own right. One hopes that he expands his talents to the feature realm in the very near future.

— Michael Tully


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Michael Tully was born and raised in Maryland and now lives on Tennis Court in Brooklyn. His most recent narrative feature, Septien, world-premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was picked up for distribution by Sundance Selects. In addition to directing Cocaine Angel (2006) and Silver Jew (2007), he is also a proud alumni of Filmmaker Magazine's annual "25 New Faces of Independent Film" club (2006). Visit his indieWIRE blog Boredom at its Boredest——for more sporadic personal updates.

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