by Liz Tramer
What would you do if I could tell you that I knew your mood on January 1, 2003, or your wife’s maiden name? What about where your parent’s lived, your food allergy or your personality type? You might think that this “big brother” society doesn’t exist, or since we’ve never met, I can’t possibly know that information. You’d be dead wrong. Erasing David proves without a reasonable doubt that we currently live in an Orwellian world, and most people are unknowing participants. When filmmaker David Bond received a government letter stating that his, and millions of others, data had been lost, including his name, birth date and bank details he was taken aback.David became curious about just how much personal information was available to the public. He decided to try and go off the grid for 30 days. His journey for privacy has astounding implications that will affect the way you conduct your everyday life.
When David received a generic letter about the loss of his “identity,” he began to wonder just how much information had been collected about him and how that information was obtained. His research led to a shocking discovery. There was a mountain of information on him. His moods were gauged on days by orders he’d placed on Amazon or from entries on the Internet. David wondered if so much data had been collected on his past activities, how easy would it be to track his future movements.
It wasn’t enough to just disappear; he wanted to know if he could be found. For this reason, he hired two private detectives to try and locate him once he tried to become lost among the crowd. David discussed the project with his pregnant wife and tried to convince her that this endeavor was being done both for their family’s future and to ensure their child’s safety. Once he had all parties on board, the race was on. Roles had been assigned: the detectives were the hunters and David became the hunted.
He snuck out of his home in the middle of the night and began his journey. Along the way, he realized that his phone, e-mail and credit card information all left a trail. The more time he spent around others, the greater the likelihood of information being revealed. Even a visit to his family and the locations he would consider safe, became places of discovery.
As the film progresses, David becomes more paranoid and incredibly isolated, leaving viewers wondering if the cost of privacy needs to be complete isolation. “At the time (of the experiment), I barely slept. I began to have paranoid thoughts about everybody I met or even passed in the street. I wondered if people were agents of the Private Investigators. I even began to wonder if my producer (and great friend) Ashley had betrayed me in order to make the film turn out a certain way,” David said.
As David faced loneliness and despair, the private investigators were able to gather birth certificate, marriage licenses, photos, and childhood information, and compile an accurate and revealing story of David’s life and personality. Through the public information the investigators gathered, for al intents and purposes, they were able to transform into David Bond when necessary.
Erasing David is a riveting game of cat and mouse. Director David Bond’s quest for anonymity reveals to viewers how much of your information is public, and the frightening future implications. Bond said that after completing the project he “routinely questions exchanges of data and information that most people don’t notice.” After watching the film, you will never look at filling out a form or surfing the Web the same way.
Immediately following its premiere at SXSW at 8 p.m. on March 12, Erasing David will be available for online rental across the U.S. for the duration of the festival. For more information, or to watch the video online, visit http://cineticfilmbuff.com/slate/erasing-david.