The Living Premieres on FUTURESTATES

Posted on May 22, 2013

Filmmaker Julian Breece gives us this inside look at the inspiration behind this week’s FUTURESTATES short, The Living, which is available to stream for free at futurestates.tv and on pbs.org.


The Living is a film about human isolation and, specifically, how shifts in the frequency and quality of human interaction might shape the American future. For many of my fellow Gen Y-ers, the notion that we’re traveling down a path of increased human isolation probably seems far-fetched and alarmist, or, at best, a non-issue. After all, we’re children of the Information Age, the first generation born into a world of mass media and wireless technology that allows us to stay in constant contact with both close friends and strangers who live thousands of miles away. Although I recognize and enjoy the technological advances that continue to bring us closer in the virtual sense and satisfy an array of social longings, I’ve also wondered what culture shifts these innovations might encourage in the long run. As I developed the script for The Living, I pondered a host of moral quandaries that might arise in a society where human desire has been reduced at accelerated rates – where the population has normalized the practice of communicating with both strangers and loved ones at mainly a physical distance. Ultimately, I wanted to know how this continuing ethos might inform the way Americans value human life.

The story of The Living reaches 22 years into the future, where we find America in a state of reconstruction following a series of earthquakes that leveled the East Coast and left millions crippled, indigent, or both. I injected this complication because I wanted to imagine how America, the “mightiest nation in the world,” might conduct itself when unexpectedly brought to its knees. In light of the country’s vulnerable position, I wondered whose lives might be privileged in the name and process of nation-(re)building, and which lives might be considered unproductive or expendable. Similarly I asked myself, in a society where interpersonal connection is increasingly indirect and theoretical, what might be the resultant shifts in our collective morality? And how would those shifts inform our decision-making in the face of cataclysmic circumstance? The Living zeros in on a narrative microcosm of these conversations, following two people, from different sides of privilege, as they enter into a complex and emotionally charged dialogue on the value of human life in an America where life has a price tag. 

Julian Breece's The Living is currently streaming here.

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