Experiencing Interruptions?


An anxious teenager falls into a suffocating
online vortex one night after school, and
struggles to fight her way to freedom.

This almost wordless film drags you inside a teenager’s mind as she battles invisible forces from her bedroom.

As a reflection on the recent revelations regarding Instagram’s damaging impact on young users from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, ‘Comments’ crawls inside the device and under the skin of one teen, over one night, during an exhausting war of words.

  • Danielle Baynes
  • Danielle Baynes
  • Danielle Baynes
  • Lottie Aspinall
  • Rachel Pengilly
    Key Cast
  • Jeremy Waters
    Key Cast
    "Maddie's Dad"
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Sci-Fi, Drama
  • Runtime:
    11 minutes 9 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 8, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    30,000 AUD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    ARRI Alexa Mini
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Freshflix Film Festival
    June 30, 2022
    Winner Audience Choice Award
  • Hollywood Shorts Fest
    Los Angeles
    United States
    Official Selection
  • Venezia Shorts
    August 25, 2022
    Official Selection, Best Sound Design
  • Los Angeles Lift Off Film Festival
    Los Angeles
    United States
    September 7, 2022
    Official Selection: Judges Selects
Director Biography - Danielle Baynes

Danielle Baynes is an actor, writer and director based in Sydney, Australia.

Nominated for an Australian Writers’ Guild Award (AWGIE) and Australian Directors' Guild Award for her short film, COLD HEARTS. Co-written and co-directed with Yolanda Ramke, Cold Hearts won Best Narrative Short and Exceptional Emerging Artist awards at the Hollywood Film Festival 2017 and has played in competition at Flickerfest Short Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, For Film's Sake Festival and Brooklyn Women’s Film Festival. Danielle is currently in development as creator/co-writer of new teen sci-fi series, SECOND TIME, produced by Thumper Pictures with support from Screen Australia. Her second short film, COMMENTS, was completed in 2022. Recently awarded the BRUNY20 Artist Fellowship for film, Danielle directed her short film GHOST GEAR on Bruny Island, Tasmania in August 2021. She is currently developing the feature film version of Ghost Gear. Other development projects include tv drama horror series with co-writer Mohini Herse.

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Director Statement

COMMENTS developed out of a feeling of fear and deep empathy. Fear for the challenge’s teenagers must tackle because of social media, and empathy because I only just made it out unscathed. I am part of that odd generation who experienced some life without internet, but had early versions of social media in the very formative high school years. I wasn’t tethered to a smartphone, so fortunately found the baby versions of the apps never really dominated the real-life relationships that were so influential on my state of mind. For me, that state of mind was rocky; insecure, unsure, often depressed and anxious, craving to stand out but desperate to fit in.

However, evolving into a frequent social media user as a young 20-something whilst experiencing self-image, self-esteem and anxiety issues became a serious challenge. We know they’re built to be addictive, and I felt it. I couldn’t stop imagining the younger me with Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat, or rather, worrying about the younger me. That was the catalyst to understand how teenagers were engaging, moderating and coping with it now. I wanted to find a way to cinematically explore some of the feelings social media can provoke.

I talked to a lot of teen girls from different ages, locations and school environments. I talked to teachers, parents and researchers. The feeling of living a double life was often spoken about, as well as feeling hostage to your device. Stories of bullying came up a lot. I empathised, as a kid I had similar experiences, both as the bullied and the bully. I had an adult’s perspective of the psychology and environmental context for both sides, and remember the swift action of schools and parents as they observed the behaviour take place. But the gap in experience lay in the weapons of choice; the apps, the message threads, the fake accounts, the digital blackmail. The anonymity offered to online perpetrators and their shielded attacks was unprecedented. What I found even more complex was the confluence of the online tools being the source of pain but also the balm for the wounds. They provided comfort in the form of validation, connection with likeminded communities and an element of escape.

COMMENTS is inspired by these conversations, my own experiences and the impact of social media on self-image, resilience and mental health, and the complex psychological toll that cyberbullying, endless comparison and a dual identity can have on young people. I came to understand that, unlike my adolescence, social media is not an addition to young people’s lives, it is an extension of their reality. Isolating yourself from the network, or deleting the apps is not the simple solution. Although there are structures and support for intervention, and the ability to block and delete, there’s no real permanent escape from the internet.

The film examines the relationship between resilience building and that online rabbit hole; the attraction, addiction, lure and potential damage it can have. It asks, how can you build resilience as a young person when the internet is both barrier and balm? The most important part of the film for me was the conversation Maddie has with her dad at the dinner table. The scene acknowledges the communication barrier between the generations, but despite that, Maddie’s dad recognises something’s wrong and he wants to help her. He finally tells her that she can talk to him, a sentiment I want to strongly support within my own sphere of young people, with a potential child of my own, and with all young people viewing this film. We don’t get Maddie’s answer, the phone buzzes again and she can’t ignore it, because that’s reality. But her dad’s not going anywhere, and I hope anyone struggling with similar experiences knows that there is always someone in their life who is there to help them too.