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A film and podcast about social bots, early modern witches, and how infotech reveals them all.

Produced and directed by Heather D. Freeman
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Storm Clouds

The Film and Podcast

Research for Familiar Shapes began in 2016 while I was reading about both the earlier modern witch trials and disinformation on social media. I noticed something interesting: the malicious social bot and witch's familiar had a lot in common.

Over the next two years, I interviewed dozens of experts in history, computer science, sociology, and communications studies. With the help of Photography Advisor Hamilton Ward and eleven UNC Charlotte student interns, I began constructing my first feature film.

 

The 2020 global pandemic forced a pivot, however. I revised an earlier edit of the film into a serial podcast, released every two weeks from April through September 2020. Proud of the UNC Charlotte students' hard work, I revised the film into a 20-minute short, which is currently being submitted to film festivals.

You can learn more about this journey, the interns, and the interview subjects on the Familiar Shapes Blog.

The early modern witch's familiar and today’s social bot are both uncanny, shape-shifting entities — products of revolutionary information technologies. The movable type press and social media altar individual fears and beliefs which in turn change the fortunes of communities and nations.

 
DIRECTOR

HEATHER D. FREEMAN

PHOTOGRAPHY ADVISOR

HAMILTON WARD

 

CONTACT

Heather D. Freeman, Producer/Director

heatherfreeman@uncc.edu

704-687-0184

Department of Art & Art History

UNC Charlotte

9201 University City Blvd.

Charlotte, NC 28223

© 2021 by Heather D. Freeman

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