Shanghai, last night.

A pyjama clad pensioner walks into a desolate Shanghai noodle bar.

14 minutes later over 100,000 people have blood on their hands – social justice or social network gone too far?

Set in a dystopian, urban microcosm, this claustrophobic film noir, explores the powerful impact of our ubiquitous social media on society and its insidious capacity to unleash our darker selves.

 

About the Production

The idea at the heart of Nighthawks was driven by real a series of high profile instances which revealed how drastically social media is shaping society in China. In order to attempt to lock down this moving, shape-shifting target, research involved sociologists, media and Internet specialists as well as journalists.

With a baggage of concepts and heaps of random online anecdotes, the main challenge facing the writers was how to shrink the entire internet into one room and make it look believable, outrageous and terrifying at the same time. The script was backed up by a production team which worked incessantly to uncover the ideal cast and location. The cast was selected out of non professional actors who embodied the characteristics of the roles they were playing.

Set in one of the oldest parts of Shanghai, on Tiantong Rd., the location chosen for nighthawks was the last working noodle shop on a street set do be destroyed. its inherent doom and gloom also added to the realism of the film.

The art department reworked the interior to accommodate lighting which had to be kept in place during the daytime (which was the normal operating hours of the restaurant) and ready to be used at night.

The film was shot in 3 intense nights just before October holidays in 2012. Amusingly, the production had assumed that as the street was set to be demolished, the location would be as quiet as presented in the film. It turned out that it was anything but with an almost permanent flow of construction traffic of heavy lorries which were only allowed in and out of Shanghai during night time. With the location’s demolition only days away, reshoots were not only the table. Notwithstanding the noise, crowds, dodgy power supplies and the director’s crippled Mandarin, the crew was able to plough through and by dawn of the third day, the film was in the can.

Eight months later after a laborious edit process and a sound design which redefined the film, this dystopian tale of cyber justice was born.