For The Thought Leader, Laser used the format of the increasingly popular TED Talk. She directed 10-year-old actor, Alex Ammerman, to deliver a monologue she adapted from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground (1864). TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a global series of motivational speeches with the mission of promoting “the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.” TED Talks, primarily viewed as online videos, have promoted a forceful and inspirational presentation style across a wide spectrum of professions. Speakers typically propose idealistic solutions to contemporary issues but have often been criticized for failing to offer tangible steps for achieving their utopian visions. Laser insinuates the Underground Man’s views into the TED Talk format: she applies Dostoevsky’s attack on the socialist ideal of enlightened self-interest to its contemporary capitalist incarnation.
Featuring actor Alex Ammerman
Script written by Liz Magic Laser based on Notes From the Underground (1864) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Speech coach: Kristian Nammack
Directors of Photography: Chris Heinrich and Tom Richmond
Audio Engineer: Nikola Chapelle
Sound Mixer: Scott Benzel
Sound Effects Editor: Molly Fitzjarrald
Color Correction: Alejandro Wilkins
Production Manager: Anna Riley
Production Assistants: Esther Hayes, Jasmine Kyoko and Samantha Rosner
Filmed at Kickstarter in Brooklyn, NY
Participating actors: Cole Akers, Kelela Blake, Tyler Booker, Travis Branch, Virginia Ferrer, Sein Gay, Jessica Gallucci, Ryan Healey, Joseph Henry, Minki Hong, Kelvin Lofton, Rebekah Loy, Roberto Mugnai, Job Piston, James Pyecka, Mike Quinn, Hobson Riley, Khalid Rivera, Alexis Rosenbaum, Malaika Said, Stephanie Samford, Noriko Sato, Isaiah Seward, Charlii Tv, Alex Xenos and Liz Zito.
Special thanks to Kathy Ammerman, Sanya Kantarovsky, Owen Katz, Ken Laser, Ella Maré, Fabrice Nadjari, Wendy Osserman, Chadwick Rantanen, Anna Riley, Hobson Riley, Hong-An Truong, Esther Kim Varet, Joseph Varet, Tomasz Werner, Kate Wilson, Spencer Wolff and Kickstarter.
Produced with support from Various Small Fires Gallery, Los Angeles