Can you live without your phone? Alex Lykos presents ' Disconnect Me’

Alex Lykos Disconnect

by Antonia Komarkowski

Can YOU live without your phone? What would your life be like without it?

This is the question that Greek Australian filmmaker Alex Lykos tries to answer in his new film Disconnect Me.

The film centres around Alex who disconnects from all if his devices (including his smartphone) for 30 days.

How will he and those around him react? What will be the effects on his life, both personal and professional? And what will become of his own mental health?

Disconnect Me investigates the social impacts of the smartphone and social media, interviewing academia, adults, teenagers, and children and touches on the rise of artificial intelligence.

Ahead of the premiere in Sydney (on September 17 at the Enmore Theatre), we spoke to Alex.

Having worked on so many shows and films, how do you start a new project?

Ideas for films/theatre come to me organically. There is no real process. Sometimes, if someone is telling me a story about something that happened to them, a small side of me is trying to dramatise the event to see if it might have potential for a film or a theatre show.

So, how did you arrive at wanting to write, produce and direct ‘Disconnect Me’?

I found myself mindlessly scrolling through my socials quite a lot, and I was feeling worse after doing it. One time I just snapped at myself. I needed a circuit breaker, so I thought I would try and digitally detox and see what happens.

What were the biggest challenges confronting you?

Interestingly, after a few days, I did not miss social media at all. I missed the primary purpose of the mobile phone, the ability to make and receive calls from anywhere.

There have been many studies investigating the effects of smartphone and social media usage, did you look to any of those studies to guide you in making this film?

Yes, we did. Did lots of research and we interviewed highly qualified experts. The key for us was not to get too bogged down in the idea that phones are bad. They are not bad. Social media is not bad. They are incredibly helpful. I think the idea of the film is to highlight the importance of moderation so you can use technology to serve you, not control you.

Screen Shot 2023 09 15 at 2.26.00 pm
Can you live without your phone? Alex Lykos presents ' Disconnect Me’ 1

How have you made the film fun for the audience?

Well firstly, the film is interactive in that we ask audience to keep their phones handy as they will get ask to use their phones throughout the film. We try and keep things light and not get bogged down too much. We try to keep things moving and have a little fun in the process.

Do you think ‘Disconnect Me’ will make people think differently about their phones?

I don't know about that. I just hope the film leads to discussion amongst friends, amongst families, between parents and children - mature discussions to get a better understanding of how technology is co-existing with our lives.

Is there any Greek influence in the film?

Absolutely there is. A strong influence. There is quite a bit of Greek spoken in the film.

What would you like audiences to take away?

Firstly, I want them to have a fun, engaging night. That's first and foremost. And as I mentioned earlier, I want them to encourage discussion. For example, at the world premiere in WA last week, a lady who came to see the film came up to us afterwards and said, her friend is always on her phone when they are out and she can't bring herself to tell her friend how rude it is. Now we have a section in the film which addresses this, and the lady said, she is going to bring her friend to watch the film and then talk about it with her friend afterwards. That is what I want.

One more question that’s just for fun. What are your three personal favourite movies, any that inspired you over the years?

Oh, these are always tough questions: right now...well, I've had some challenges in recent times and The Shawshank Redemption was on tv and I watched it for the 100th time...and love its theme about hope. It is what I needed and it was so nice to be reminded of the importance of having hope.

Disconnect Me premiers in Sydney on September 17 at the Enmore Theatre, followed by a general release on October 19 in select cinemas. Find out more here.

Watch the trailer below:

Read more: New work by Alex Lykos has World Premiere at prestigious CinefestOZ Film Festival

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