'Search:' How a Story is Told Through Computer Screens

"It's a true storytelling feat, married with sharp editing that makes the entire effort not only seamless, but also wholly intuitive."
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Describing the feature Search,Peter Debruge says, "Intricately designed and innovatively told, Aneesh Chaganty's clever missing-persons mystery stars John Cho as a father [David] desperately trying to find his daughter [Margot] from behind a computer screen.

"Cutting to the emotional core of what social media says about us, the result is as much a time capsule of our relationship to (and reliance upon) modern technology as it is a cutting-edge digital thriller," Debruge says. To read the full article, click here

"Search is a hyper-modern thriller that unfolds entirely on computer screens," Chaganty explains."We wanted it to be engaging, thrilling and most of all: cinematic. And we knew exactly how we'd pull it off, too.

"First, we'd start with a storyboard. Then, we'd turn the storyboard into a full-length animatic (I played every role in the first cut). Next, we'd shoot all the live-action footage and spend a week or two finding the best takes. Finally, we'd drop that footage back into the animatic, update the film with high-resolution graphics and voila: our movie would be done. 

"Things did no go that simply.

"The first thing we realized was that, given our conceit, we were always met with an infinite amount of creative choices. We could frame shots differently, we could adjust dialogue if it was emailed or texted, we could create new plot points, replace pictures, or write new scenes entirely. Essentially, we could change everything in every frame at every single moment we worked on this movie." To read the full interview, click here

Detailing the construction of the film, Kate Erbland says, "Search plays out first on David's laptop screen, tracking him as he finally involves the cops—including a restrained Debra Messing as a lauded detective who takes on the case—while also attempting to launch his own investigation. Soon, however, he realizes he must go elsewhere: Margot's laptop, which is full of its own secrets and revelations about what might have led to Margot's disappearance.

"Constantly flipping between open browser windows and an increasingly messy desktop only add to the mystery, and Chaganty and co-writer Sev Ohanian frequently drop in tiny tidbits of new information hidden in document names or unread text messages.

"It's a true storytelling feat, married with sharp editing that makes the entire effort not only seamless, but also wholly intuitive. The use of real websites and social media platforms—from YouTube and Gmail to Facebook and Instagram—further sells the conceit, and the only true distraction the film offers is audio that can be billed as too good (the video, however, occasionally times out, real as anything)." To read the full article, click here.  

"Search's rhythm and pacing stand out," says Bryan Bishop, "from the way the camera punches in and moves around computer screens to the way it creatively adds new angles to the mix, while still adhering to its basic conceit.

"More often than not, the fact that we're watching an ersatz computer screen falls away completely, leaving only the drama of David's search. It feels impressively cinematic, which is no small feat, given the stylistic limitations. To read the full article, click here

"Our Computers Were Crashing Roughly Six Times a Day" Director Aneesh Chaganty on Search

The Tense, Emotional Thriller Search Proves Good Computer Screen Movies Aren't a Fluke


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