Films

The Love Industry

Matthew Cusimano
2016 | 19 mins 
Country of Production: USA
Country Featured: USA
Saturday, October 15 | Noon

Lisa Hoehn has an unusual job: she makes a living ghostwriting online dating profiles for a large and diverse set of clients, eager to put their best foot forward in the labyrinthine world of social media. When filmmaker and wedding videographer Matt Cusimano meets Hoehn, they find common ground in the exhausting lifestyle of working in the relationship industry and reflect on self-curation and romance in the digital age.

This screening is part of the Emerging Visual Anthropologists Showcase and will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers and Dr. Faye Ginsburg, director of the New York University Program in Culture & Media and documentary professor, Dr. Pegi Vail.

Re:Frame, My Perspective

“Generally speaking, my work celebrates reflexivity. Our film, The Love Industry, takes a reflexive look at my relationship as a wedding videographer with that of an online-dating-profile ghostwriter. In both professions we are paid to be invisible: a wedding film isn’t supposed to reveal the filmmaker, and a ghostwritten dating profile is manipulated to make it seem as if there’s a singular author. I believe we all have an agenda, and filmmakers who state that their work is absent of agenda are either lying or unaware. Our agendas may be subtle. My height may accidentally influence my camera angle, my sexuality may influence whom I choose to interview, my politics may influence how I write my film—even if it’s by accident. Reflexivity helps to tell the fuller story: the story of my subjects as well as the story of myself and the motivations behind my inquiry.

I believe this is the world we live in today: a world in which more accessible media technologies have exposed biases that have been built for decades, that have always existed, and are just now being written into our narrative. The idea of total objectivity is becoming an archaic concept. I believe a healthy filmmaking process should always include rigorous debates over the creation of the frame, much akin to the classic Mead/Bateson debate on camera placement and subjectivity. My framing of a subject is just that—it’s my frame, and I have no problem with exposing the edges of my frame so that others can debate what kind of agenda it seems I have created.”

—Matthew Cusimano | Director, The Love Industry