We had a little chit and a little chat with writer and director Branden Kramer about his new feature film ‘Ratter’ starring Ashley Benson and Matt McGorry. And of course we asked him about ‘Pretty Little Liars‘, it’s a no brainer!
Can you tell us a little bit about the meaning behind the name of the film ‘Ratter’?
Ratter is a slang term. It’s a real kind of underground term that comes from an acronym RAT which is basically a malicious kind of software which stands for Remote Access Trojan.
Was that kind of the inspiration you had behind the film?
The inspiration is based on truth. It didn’t happen to me directly but it happened to a friend of mine and we don’t even know exactly what did happen. About four years ago my friends webcam light would go on and off without her knowing. It would come on and off automatically and at the time she just thought it was you know a glitch or a malfunction and neither of us knew about this concept where you could hack into a webcam four years ago.
So immediately I thought wow what if someone is behind the camera there and someone can watch you and what have they seen and who is it and why. You know all these creepy ass questions come to mind and that’s how the story basically came about.
The cast for this film include Ashley Benson and Matt McGorry, can you tell us how they came into casting for the film?
Ashley Benson was the first person on our list that we wanted to get for the film. We thought she’d be great, you know she’s a natural actress and she understands the whole social media climate so to speak, you know she has tons of fans and followers so she gets it and she was wonderful to work with.
Matt McGorry when we first cast him for the film it was about two/two and half years ago. He’s great, he’s a New Yorker like myself. We actually just did a regular casting call and we cast him for a smaller role we bought him in to read for the roommate which is Kent in the film.
So Matt McGorry came in to read for that role and was hilarious so we thought let’s give him the chance to read for Michael, let’s give him the bigger role to read. And of course he nailed it so we welcomed him right out of the gate.
Ashley is also a part of Pretty Little Liars, which is a TV series based around a similar scenario of someone stalking a group of teen girls. Do you think it’s important for the media to discuss these kind of themes and issues in their work?
I think as our lives are more and more documented and immersed with gadgets and technology it’s important you know. Especially for younger kids growing up in this age where they don’t know of anything else. It’s important to know the repercussions that can come out of what you post and how vulnerable you can be.
Is there any advice you can give to young people so that they can stay safe online?
Well this is going to sound kind of basic but don’t open anything. Don’t open any sketchy attachments or click on any links from people that you don’t know and just be very very careful. The better answer? Cover up your webcam, put some tape over it and then at least you’ll be good there.
Was it a conscious decision you made to film from the point of view of the hacker?
Definitely. It feels like your in the same perspective as the hacker. So you feel like you’re almost complicit. You’re watching everything that the stalker’s watching and so you feel almost dirty you know like you’re just a little creeper.
You filmed some of the film on an iPhone. Can you give our readers who are interested in film any advice on how to use their phone to make a film?
Yes, so here’s the thing cameras and even cameras that are in iPhones are great these days but the most important thing is to be original. Anyone can shoot something, anyone can make a quick little movie or a short film. But the difference is having a story that’s original and hasn’t quite been done before that’s the one thing that makes something break out.
What would you define as success for this film and what kind of impact would you like this film to have culturally?
The main thing we want to happen is have people talk about privacy these days and vulnerability with technology. We just want conversation to be made. And for the term ‘Ratter’ to be used. If more people are aware of ratting it’ll be a positive thing.
Branden’s film ‘Ratter’ starring Ashley Benson and Matt McGorry is out on Digital HD and DVD now.