webify = W = web ring

webmaster n.

[WWW: from postmaster] The person at a site providing World Wide Web information who is responsible for maintaining the public pages and keeping the Web server running and properly configured.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

An endangered species, webmasters were traditionally responsible for the upkeep of websites and uptime of Internet WWW servers. Today, the webmaster maintains the HTML of a website or sites, and checks the webmaster@domain.com email address. It's quite an unflattering position.

Many early webmasters were responsible for site design, HTML, CGI, and even hardware configuration and maintenance. With the recent popluarity of large websites, this job has been broken down across entire departments. The webmaster's job has expanded from a single person operation to a slew of tasks such as network administration, VPN setup, and even some marketing jobs, which may be distributed across several different departments.

Webmasters were cynical cybercreatures, who on the large part read far too much science fiction. The departmentalization of webmasters has changed the company website from being cool to corporate.


Genre: film noir / sci-fi / thriller
Country: Denmark
Danish title: Skyggen. In English also: "The Shadow"
Run time: 98 minutes
Released 1998
Director: Thomas Borch Nielsen
Writing credits: Thomas Borch Nielsen
MPAA: Rated "R" for strong sexuality, violence, some language and drug content.

Cast overview:
Lars Bom ............ J.B.
Puk Scharbau .... Miauv
Jørgen Kiil .......... Stoiss
Karin Rørbeck .... Barbie

So what's this film about?
JB is a webmaster, working for a very powerful businessman/criminal, Stoiss. When the Stoiss domain is attacked - and breached - by a mysterious hacker - JB is told to find the hacker whithin 48 hours, or die. To keep him on the track and avoid any dilly-dallying Stoiss inserts a timed device into JB's body. It will cause his heart to stop when the time is up. If it is removed without first being deactivated, he will also die. Painfully. JB's friend, Miauv, tries to help him find the hacker, and their quest takes them to some very dubious places in this futuristic city.

They discover that the elusive hacker is in fact none other than Stoiss' lovely mistress, Barbie, whom Stoiss seems to hold in high regard. They need hard evidence if JB is going to stay alive. And so the hunt is on.


This film was doomed from the beginning. It was the low budget 'dream come true' for director Thomas Borch Nielsen, starring mostly unknown actors, or tv-actors who had never starred on the big screen. During the shooting, the lead actor, Lars Bom, also starred in a tv-series ("Strisser Samsø"), and became immensely popular, almost overnight. Though Lars Bom did not want to give up his role in "Webmaster" (which would have been disastrous), he suddenly had a lot less time on his hands. Partly because of this, shooting the film took longer than expected, and funds were running out.

Thomas Borch Nielsen admitted openly that his inspiration for "Webmaster" came from "Bladerunner". He wanted to capture a little of the alienation and despair in Ridley Scott's cult masterpiece, but he had no money to do it with. He tried, though. "Webmaster" was shot mostly in abandoned warehouses on Holmen, the former naval base in Copenhagen. Some of the scenes were filmed deep down in a water pumping station, with a lot of atmosphere and very tricky ladders. Decorations were often just large sheets of plastic hanging from the ceiling, and neon lights on bare concrete walls.

In the end, the film was completed. There were no money left for promotion, so a large number of extras and whatnots were rounded up, and invited to a meeting1. Everyone was equipped with a small amount of posters and flyers, and asked to go forth into the city and spread the word. There would be a small prize for the smartest placement idea.

The movie needed a musical score too, but - again - the money had all been spent. Word went out to the underground techno scene in Denmark, that musicians could get their music published on a "Webmaster" soundtrack, as long as the music could be used in the film. It worked like a charm, and I personally think that the soundtrack is great.

But the worst blow this movie suffered was the release date. It opened in the same theatre, on the same night, as "Lethal Weapon 4". The theatre's foyer was packed with movie-goers, but the only ones going in to watch "Webmaster" were the extras and their friends. It was really sad, since the film isn't bad at all. The story is old, the acting not the best (being an experienced tv-actor, though, Jørgen Kiil makes you really loathe Stoiss). The rest of the characters are easily forgotten. Still, in my humble opinion, it's the best Danish sci-noir to date.

  1. As I was one of the obscure background extras in the movie, I was there too. My 7 seconds of fame, no less.
My sources are http://www.imdb.com, seeing the film, and being on the set and at the meeting, where Thomas Borch Nielsen and Lars Bom held a pep-talk.

Entry for The B Movie Quest 2006.

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