The New York-based director makes his fictional feature debut with King Kelly, a racy satire about young people’s obsession with the Internet.

After premiering at SXSW, the film made its European premiere this week at the Zurich Film Festival.

Why did you want to make a film about internet-obsessed culture?

I’ve always been interested in the internet and what it’s doing to us. We as a culture in the developed world are going through one of the most radical changes in terms of how we live in modern history. Its more intense than the industrial revolution. In this self-mediated reality understanding ourselves, our own identity, has become more complicated.

In addition to that, the last ten years has been difficult for America, and in part that is because of a narcissistic tendency in our culture. That kind of narciscism has created some real problems, a lack of perspective about who we are.

Why go the satirical route?

I love satire. I have a copy of Candide by my bed. When I’m feeling down I open it up so that I can have a chuckle. Sometimes the best way to deal with a really horrific reality is satire.

How did the crowd here in Zurich react?

The screening was on par with my best screening at SXSW. The two were equal because people were laughing. I wanted people to laugh, and if you’re uptight it might be hard for you to laugh. I didn’t want to take people on this journey without having some fun along the way.

Are you interested in continuing low-budget work?

I want to start working with higher budgets. I have a film slated for next summer called The House of Trammel. We’re partly financed. It’s about a wealthy family that loses all their money in the financial crash and they go up to their estate to divvy up the scraps and things go badly. Things go really really badly. It’s like a family drama that turns into a horrible nightmare. You can think Funny Games meets Gossip Girl or War of the Roses meets The Shining. It’s more traditional than King Kelly. Last Year at Marienbad is a huge visual reference. 

Also [through his company SeeThink] I am producing a film that goes into production in a week and a half, it’s called Stand Clear of the Closing Doors. I’m coproducing it with Missing Pieces. The director is Sam Fleischner (Wa Do Dem). Also we just picked up another doc that we are co-producing with Missing Pieces, that’s called Holy Water. It’s about a man who created an engine that ran on water, and he mysteriously died. Josh Nussbaum will direct.

We’re also involved in another film called Bluebird [in post], directed by Lance Edmands, who edited Tiny Furniture. It’s produced by Kyle Martin. It was a Sundance Lab film.

And then I have several other scripts. I always work with the writer of King Kelly, Mike Roberts.