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Every Hollywood screenwriter has feared this day. Artificial Intelligence programs are now good enough to write screenplays. It's not something new, in fact. In the early 1960s, MIT's computer TX-0 wrote a series of short Western scenes, some of which made no sense. the LSTM Neural Network was given the screenplays for hundreds of movies, including The Truman Show, Tremors, Existenz, and Total Recall. Like I said, there were hundreds, but those are the ones I have on my screen at the moment. The film Sunspring was the result of that system's output being used as the shooting script.
And it's magnificent.
They gave the system a 48 Hour Film Project-like set of rules for the creation of the project. It has to have a character pull a book off a shelf, then return it, it was fed a line of dialogue, and a title, along with an optimal setting for the picture of a future where there's mass unemployment and young people have to sell blood. Personally, I call that next friday, a.d..
The resulting film is weird. The dialogue is non-sensical on the surface, but when it was filmed, the dialogue delivered by actors, it takes on a strange, Surrealist, Post-Modernist twinge, especially when the music kicks in. The song that the computer wrote was excellent. Really phenomenal, and the way it was sung added to the sense that this is a film that was influenced by a century of science fiction film, but, somehow, also avant garde films. I found myself flashing on Alphaville for no good reason.
The fact is, this ain't a great film, but it's more than fascinating enough to deserve study. In fact, the best part of the short might be the credits rolling over a mini-documentary about making the movie. I may have to do a project that more deeply delves into this one, but watching it alone gives you a sense of art film wonder.
Klaus at Gunpoint
A Film Journal dedicated to all film.A segment of Office Supply Publishing.