Friday Download: Scene Queen

Friday Download is dedicated to curating the best download-able objects on the web, courtesy of BitTorrent Bundle Publishers.

In this edition of FDL: a filmmaker sets out to explore the Internet’s youth fight culture. Scene Queen, written and directed by Janet Harvey, follows three kids growing up digital. Looking for themselves; looking for belonging, they fall into (and fall prey to) online bullying. This is a too-true story about the dark side of social media. And it’s one that needs to be told.

Download the BitTorrent Bundle to go behind the scenes of the in-progress film, with scripts, storyboards, stencils and test footage. Edit your own cuts of the fight footage, for the opportunity to have your clip featured in the DVD extras of the film.

Scene Queen’s Kickstarter campaign is down to dollars and days. Get involved.

Words with Janet Harvey: on selfie culture and social media filmmaking

BitTorrent: Scene Queen is a project that you started in 2008. What inspired you to make the film?

Janet Harvey: I remember seeing a news story about a group of girls who had bullied and beaten another girl, videotaped it, and put it on the Internet. I think it was in Florida (isn’t it always?). I was looking for a compelling subject for a low-budget movie that could be shot on video, and this seemed perfect. I became fascinated with the phenomenon.

When I first started talking to people about the script, nobody believed that this was something that really happened – I got a lot of feedback like, “Girls don’t really get into fights. Why would they put it online when they could get arrested? Doesn’t the school do anything about this?” etc. But then as time went by, people started emailing me more and more news stories, like “OMG! This is just like your movie!”


BitTorrent: You chose to examine the issue of Internet bullying as a female phenomenon. Why was it important tell this story through the eyes of young girls?

Harvey: I’m really interested in the way girls use the internet to express themselves. People make fun of “selfies,” but if you look at them closely, you’ll see a generation of girls playing with their own images – there’s a wide variety of self-expression. Fear, confidence, sexuality, joy, love, insecurity, playfulness. There’s power there, as well as vulnerability.

I think girls are used to being seen, and constructing a self image on the internet. I think it’s a big part of the bullying behavior we’re seeing from girls online, and that was an aspect of what I wanted to explore with this movie.

BitTorrent: What do you think the Internet’s done to / for adolescence?

Harvey: It’s a double-edged sword. As a creative person, I really envy the ability of teenagers today to reach a worldwide audience pretty much immediately!

There’s nothing stopping you from making a movie, or writing a song, or publishing a novel, and putting it out there. Having those kinds of tools at your disposal is really exciting, and I can’t wait to see what this generation does with it.

At the same time, I think online bullying has become such a big story because it’s really hard to combat in any effective way. We live in a world where you don’t just pass notes to the kid next to you in class – it goes everywhere, to your entire peer group, in an instant. And that’s made the internet a virtual playground for all kinds of bullying behavior. Not to mention, every dumb thing you ever do has the potential to be recorded and put on blast. And I don’t envy that part at all.

bittorrent bundle, scene queen

BitTorrent: How do you think technology’s changed indie filmmaking?

Harvey: I really believe that indie filmmaking is at a crossroads right now. It’s similar to the place the music industry was in ten years ago, when the labels predicted that the Internet would kill the music industry. They were right and wrong, in a sense – the Britney Spears of the world may have lost market share, but your smaller bands, your Spoon and White Stripes and Decemberists, reached a bigger audience than they otherwise would have, because people were downloading their MP3s. It was a niche audience, sure, but they were able to find it. And I think you’ll see that start to happen with smaller films, as well.

I really believe that indie filmmaking is at a crossroads right now. It’s similar to the place the music industry was in ten years ago, when the labels predicted that the Internet would kill the music industry.

With new cameras and new methods of distribution, you’ll see a lot of new stories being told by people who don’t have to answer to a studio. The theatrical blockbusters will still play in theaters, but you’ll be able to find stuff like Computer Chess or Cheap Thrills on VOD.

BitTorrent: You’re super-close to reaching your funding goals. What do you hope to achieve with the finished film?

Harvey: Oh gosh. Honestly? I want to make a movie that feels like it was made by a human being and not a committee. We live in a world where you can take something that you made in your room, stick unicorn stickers on it and put it out in the world. I kind of want to create something that has that feel to it. OK, maybe not with unicorn stickers. But an unmediated, first person account. Something that feels raw and documentary-like.

So many Hollywood movies stick to a paint-by-numbers formula – it’s something they’ve honed over a century, and they’re good at it, and sometimes you crave that, like McDonalds food. They’ve done a lot of market research to see how much salt and sugar you want in your burger. But sometimes you want to taste something else, you know? There are many more stories to be told. And I want this to be one of them.

Us too. Donate to the Kickstarter campaign here.

SQ Still 4

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