Jacob Schill

The School of Media Arts


Em Assumes Death (2024)

A film by Jacob Schill

Em Assumes Death (2024), HD video, 7.1 sound, 38:26 min.
Em Assumes Death (2024), HD video, 7.1 sound, 38:26 min.
Em Assumes Death (2024), HD video, 7.1 sound, 38:26 min.

Jacob Schill’s Em Assumes Death is an experimental short film about a near-death experience and the Law of Assumption (LOA), a popular belief amongst online communities that everything one assumes to be true must ultimately manifest into reality. LOA is a kind of spirituality of the dispossessed, lost in the noise of hyper-connectivity and late modern capitalism.

The film, which sees the 18-year-old Em drowning in a river after a failed attempt to confront his fear of water, assumes the form of an unusual near-death experience. Em does not see deceased relatives or his life flash back in review. Instead, he meets manifestation coach TammyTransforms and the content and creators of his own internet history who for months had advised him on how to level up in life, align with his desires, and assume his higher self.

Schill actualizes, through a swirling montage of found footage, 3D animation, sequences of live action and a draw to overwhelm, the mounting pressures on young adults to self-realize in a world that has become increasingly disenchanted. Schill’s film arrives as symptoms of depression are skyrocketing, life is atomized, and planet-wide destruction spirals according to market interest, extractivism and inequality. An impending sense of catastrophe and collapse looms strong over us. And yet, ideals of discovering one’s hidden potential are flourishing. Feelings of self-sufficiency and limitlessness promulgate at will. Desires have never before been so smoothly delivered as with smartphones and social media. Contemporary life has become a walking addiction to a waking nightmare whose only escape might be, in the end, to assume death.


Text by Luke Buckley & Jacob Schill