The Film is coming out tomorrow online in select theaters around the country. We have been working on the documentary for a year and a half and are excited to finally be sharing Aaron's powerful story with audiences.

Here is the trailer for the film.

Comments: 65 • Responses: 17  • Date: 

losangelista14 karma

There are plenty of efforts to teach kids how to code, but I don't see much out there about teaching them about the social justice implications of it. What do you think schools or coding programs should be sharing with young people who are learning programming?

knappb6 karma

This is such a great question. I hope as a part of this effort we can bring the film itself to schools and raise awareness of the social justice implications of coding and the bigger picture. I do think it strikes at the heart of it, and that combination was one of the things that made Aaron's approach so special. We are working on an educational outreach right now and I'd love for it to include a curriculum and also support other organizations that are working on this...feel free to give me suggestions!

Tanglet13 karma

Why did you think a documentary was the best way to get Aaron's story out there?

knappb10 karma

I thought a documentary was the best way to tell the full story. There was a lot written about Aaron right after his death, some of it good, but I found those posts mostly to be small glimpses of a much bigger story.

LowEndLem7 karma

What do you think of the current arguments over free information and net neutrality that are finally hitting the media?

knappb7 karma

Fighting for net neutrality right now is really important, I'm working on a smaller piece advocating this right now. The FCC is still in their public comment period and I strongly urge anyone to go to the FCC site and fight to maintain a neutral and open internet.

realkrauswife7 karma

Hi Brian, did you have a personal connection with Aaron before making the film?

knappb9 karma

I didn't know Aaron personally, though I knew a lot of people who were close to him. I was following a lot of "hacker" stories at the time of his arrest partly because of my first film We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists. It was striking at the time that Aaron's case wasn't getting a lot of attention compared to other, similar stories and I didn't realize until I was making the film that the reason for that was that he chose not to talk about it with a lot of the people close to him and didn't want to go public with it out of fear of a backlash from the prosecutors.

yomamaisallama7 karma

How did you choose who to interview, or who not to interview, for the film?

knappb9 karma

I tried to interview everyone I thought was relevant to the story, and that became I think 26 interviews in the film. Notable exceptions are the prosecution, which I really pestered for comments over a period of time but who has declined almost every opportunity to talk about the case.

eddiezee887 karma

What was the most shocking discovery about Aaron you found while creating this film? And to Aaron's brothers while growing up with Aaron, at what point did you realize how influential your brother would become?

BenSw6 karma

I'm not sure there was ever a single moment where I realized he was going to become influential. One thing of memory was around 2000, when I was 10 years old. Aaron and I were swimming in a local pool and at some point during the day he stopped and said, "Ben, there is something you need to know about: RSS." He then went on to explain what it was and I responded with, "Who would ever use that Aaron?"

It was always the case that he was interested in things (or creating things) far before people knew that they were going to be influential.

knappb6 karma

I really love this story in the film, such a revealing glimpse into who he was.

blughst435 karma

Hi Brian, did you encounter any road blocks from government entities in getting the document made (such as politicians refusing to talk about Aaron)?

knappb8 karma

Just the prosecution, who has ben mostly silent on this. We tried very hard to talk with Stephen Heymann and Carmen Ortiz and I still really think we are owed an explanation as to what they were up to.

CallMeMorbidandPale5 karma

What's the one thing you hope viewers of the film will take away from Aaron's story?

knappb2 karma

There are many things, but three big things I hope people take away from the film are what it exposes about a broken criminal justice system, awareness of these ridiculously outdated computer laws like the CFAA, but also the more inspiring aspects of his ability to use the internet for social justice causes, grass roots organizing and putting your skills, whatever they are, in the service of the public good.

ShayaAtTakePart3 karma

What can we do to help make the Internet a place Aaron would be proud of?

knappb0 karma

At the moment I think fight for net neutrality, to curb government overreach and mass dragnet surveillance and follow the groups that Aaron founded or worked with like Demand Progress, the EFF or Fight for the Future.

SushiRolled3 karma

What inspired you to make the documentary in the first place?

knappb5 karma

I find Aaron's story really compelling on a personal level. I had actually lost a friend to suicide about 4 months before Aaron died, so I was still grappling with my friend's choice at the time. I was already engaged in a lot of the causes Aaron was fighting for and knew a lot of the same people, but it was the personal story that resonated because it allowed me to tell a bigger story of information and access.

pop4672 karma

Brian - what was the biggest challenge in filming this story?

knappb3 karma

The biggest challenge was understanding the position of the prosecutors and getting them to talk to us. I really wanted to hear their side of the story and would have put it in the film. Since they were silent we talked instead with Orin Kerr, who is a former prosecutor himself and believes that the charges against Aaron were justified, who is left speculating on what the case would have been. He does an excellent job in trying to articulate what they were thinking.

AlexBerghe2 karma

Do you consider Aaron a modern time hero for what he did ? :D

knappb5 karma

Yes I do. We found some archival footage of Aaron talking about NSA overreach about a year before Edward Snowden came forward, it was haunting. I think he was a long ways ahead of the discussion and unfortunately in our society that is a difficult place to be.

anicoleg1 karma

How do you feel about the current status of freedom and censorship on the internet?

knappb2 karma

I think it's always in danger and needs constant diligence to maintain all the things we love about the internet. I really believe everyone can be a part of the discussion too, there is a weird disconnect sometimes where people think the internet is some distant realm of geeks and hackers rather than the place where we all live. Everyone who uses the internet, which is to say almost all humans, should have a voice in its future.

thesmilingnight1 karma

Where do you think Aaron would stand on net neutrality debate?

knappb3 karma

I have no doubt he would be fighting to maintain net neutrality and I really wish we had him for it. It is impossible not to notice the absence of his voice.

Mlawso11 karma

Would you consider this an unofficial sequel to "We Are Legion", Brian?

knappb1 karma

Ha, I do kind of think of it as a sequel. It's a much different film but very much feels like it is a part of the same moment as WAL. The world was on fire when I made We Are Legion. This film was made the year after and it's a much darker film for a darker time.

sarciszewski1 karma

Was there anything you uncovered while compiling this documentary that had to be removed from the final edition?

knappb1 karma

No, but there were a lot of topics I really wanted to explore in more depth than was possible in one film - possibly those are new documentaries!

KateKrauss0 karma

What lessons from the decisions that Aaron made have you consciously incorporated into your own lives? I'm sure there are many, but do any stand out to you?

knappb1 karma

This is a great question - I feel like in so many ways Aaron's story will stay with me and influence my future films.