Political discourse has deteriorated to the point where division characterises our nation. It’s now commonplace to see people on both sides of an argument viciously attacking their counterparts instead of discussing the issues. Most disputes are dominated by ideology, and it’s increasingly clear that people are not listening to each other. At the same time, transphobic, racist, sexist and homophobic hate crimes are rising.
Our contention is that being really truthful with each other is the only way to bring people together. So the film is about honesty: the NSA wants to sabotage the Bitcoin blockchain, an open ledger system that brings transparency and honesty to transactions. Their clandestine operation forces together a group of people who all possess strong ideologies, and the surprise addition of truth serum forces them to speak their minds on a range of controversial subjects. But once their initial defensiveness and anger passes, they find common ground. Unfortunately, the NSA is willing to murder all of them to protect capitalism and uphold their own ideology.
Decrypted is a comedy-drama in the spirit of Four Lions, In Bruges and The Party - intelligent, brutal and darkly funny. Given the state of division we find ourselves in, we believe that audiences will welcome a film which confronts prejudice and ideology, but ultimately has a message of hope.
I was intrigued by the idea of forcing together prejudiced characters - liberals, feminists, sexists, racists, inclusionists, homophobes - and compelling them to bare their souls. I like to think that if everyone was more honest, it would be easier to build unity instead of division. But I didn’t want to be boring or preachy, so I put the experiment inside a black comedy that is riotous, anarchic and provocative.
This scenario is rich with potential for humour, but it also offers an opportunity for the audience themselves to find common ground with characters they may not agree with. I think this kind of complexity, combined with an escalating sense of chaos, makes for compelling cinema. I also subscribe to the idea of “cock-up theory” over conspiracy theory, which is why I find it both hilarious and believable that an NSA interrogation could go this badly wrong.
Mick and I discussed the story at an early stage. I wanted to strip it down and have it play out in a claustrophobic environment, where everything supports the actors’ performances, and the location acts as a pressure cooker. This set-up supports a liberated way of working - a very small crew, small cameras and lighting built into the set to allow the cast to be spontaneous.
During the course of the film, precise mise en scene will gradually descend into controlled chaos to match the eventual mayhem of the performances. This controlled chaos will use a diverse set of tools, mixing styles to achieve immediacy: fast push-ins from one side of the room to the other, psychedelic flashbacks, freeze frames where we hear the characters’ quick-fire internal monologues, slow motion action sequences, shots where the room moves behind the character to show the effects of the truth serum, and lines of dialogue that are repeated in the edit from different angles for effect.
The music will be composed using just two instruments - trumpet and snare drum. It will begin as an ode to Americana - think Aaron Copland and countless military movies - but as the film gets more chaotic, the same instruments will be used to different effect, with percussive loops being created and eventually whole EDM tracks being built out of trumpet samples.
Contrary to general opinion, I believe that there is a much higher level of skepticism around mass immigration, gender equality and transgender issues than people like to admit. I think that people live in bubbles. I also think that all prejudice is ultimately defensive. The only way to grow is to really acknowledge the fear that lies under them but often we don’t know what that fear is until we’re really honest about our thoughts and feelings on the subject. This is clearly demonstrated in the film by the positive arcs that nearly all of the characters go on as they relive the childhood events that made them this way. I think if we could be more tolerant and forgiving of people’s skepticism, instead of savaging it because it doesn’t conform to modern ideologies, there would be more room for us to grow as a society.