A film and podcast about social bots, early modern witches, and how infotech reveals them all.
Produced and directed by Heather D. Freeman
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.