Jawline: The documentary that asks what 'stardom' means on social media

Social media stardom. It's something so many are aiming for, but with the sheer volume of Youtube streamers and Instagram 'influencers', it's no longer an easy game to win.

So how do you become famous on social media? 

That's the question asked in New York film director Liza Mandelup's ethereal new documentary Jawline, which follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester, a rising star in the world of digital fame, trying to escape his dull backcountry family life in Tennessee. 

With a relentlessly positive outlook and many proclamations to his some 20,000 followers to "follow your dreams", Tester has built up a relatively small but passionately adoring female fanbase. 

But as we see through his ensuing tours and one cringe-but-also-smile-inducing 'meet and greet', becoming a star simply through social media involves some bloody hard work. 

It's the shaking, sobbing teenage fans of these onscreen young men who inspired Mandelup to delve deep into the universe, eventually showing at Sundance and the 2019 New Zealand International Film Festival.  

"I made a short before this feature about a bunch of fangirls and I kind of became obsessed with what they wanted with these guys," she explained to Newshub. 

"As I was talking to them I would ask, 'what's your dream?' and 'what do you want?', and they'd say, 'I just really want to know him'.

"I wanted to create a movie that was the best access that they've ever had to the boy of their dreams, so I always wanted it to feel like a diary entry, or a teenage girl's fantasy of this person's life." . 

For the teenage fangirls, guys like Tester are the "friends that I've never had"; a stand-in male figure to replace the older brother who wants nothing to do with them, or the boys bullying them at school. 

Many girls describe the connection as "love at first sight".

It's an unexpected theme of real, true love the narrative explores. It's fairly shocking at just how connected they are to these guys. I had crushes as a teen - including a memorable poster of Usher on my bedroom wall, which I now have various regrets about - but he was still very much an untouchable celebrity.

These girls are literally falling asleep with their loves, chatting over comment boards as they do so. 

But the entire time, I just couldn't quite pin down what these guys actually do. Even after living and breathing their lifestyle, Mandelup isn't 100 percent sure either. 

"I was confused about that too, but my conclusion is that they're sharing their life with someone, so its about 'live my life with me'," she explained.

"It's about sharing the most mundane things, so you hang out with this person like you'd hang out with a friend - eat pizza, go swimming. 

"It's about just sharing an experience of your life with someone and it creates this intimacy, because you get to share your life with someone in a really personal way - it doesn't feel performative." 

As a 25-year-old, I've never felt older or more out of touch than watching this doco. And I mean that in a really good way.