Words: Will Stroude
Grindr may have only celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, but in just a few short years gay location-based apps have radically changed the nature of hook-ups and dating.
But how much do we really know about the people behind the profile pic?
That's the question posed by an award-winning new short fllm from British filmmaker Jared Watmuff, whose latest project is a timely and through-provoking reminder of the human stories - and sometimes horrors - that accompany online hook-up culture.
Starring Noel Samuels and Dmitry Spodobaev, Hey You is a four minute film which follows two different men as they arrange meets in the dead of night, before following events as they unfold, in unflinching detail.
As well as featuring in the Iris Prize’s 2019 Best of British shortlist, Hey You has picked up awards at festivals including the 2019 IMDb New Filmmaker Award, QUEER-Streifen and Sunday Shorts Film Festival, firmly establishing Watmuff as one to watch in 2020.
There are twists in store, so press play below before reading on...
The shocking climax of Hey You - which reveals that one fo the men has been lured to his death by a group of violent homophobes - is inspired by very real events, Jared explains: "I remember a moment in 2016 when I first read an article about the persecution of gay and bisexual men by the Islamic State. It was absolutely shocking.
"I was immediately struck by how, in some way, the only thing which differentiates my fate from these men was my geographical location.
"It seems so absurd and arbitrary, and reminded me how the rights and freedoms we’ve gained are in no way guaranteed - and why we need to keep fighting for them."
He goes on: "I think it’s an important message to try and share with as many people as possible, especially when you look at how the rise of populism and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment seems to go hand in hand.
"Even in the UK, homophobic crimes have more than doubled in the past five years, so (it’s a familiar saying) but now more than ever we need to stay vigilant.’