During the 'COVID-19' coronavirus pandemic where people are looking forward for the recommence of the film industry, Bondit Capital Media, Belgium-based Happy Moon Productions and New York’s Ten Ten Global Media have committed to a science-fiction film.
The film that would be called 'b', the producers said that it will be the first to rely on an artificially intelligent actor.
With a $70 million budget, the star of the film would be 'Erica', a humanoid robot that is meant to take a center stage in the Life Productions’ picture.
The story by visual effects supervisor Eric Pham, Tarek Zohdy, and Sam Khoze, tells the tale of a scientist tasked with creating the perfect human DNA. After discovering the dangers associated with it, the scientist helps the AI woman escape from the lab before it is destroyed.
The film is created to align well with Erica’s real-world origin story.
In the past, many protagonists/antagonists in movies were portrayed by robots or AIs.
From the famous Terminator franchise, to Aliens, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Bicentennial Man, Blade Runner, Star Trek, Star Wars, RoboCop, Surrogates, Transformers and many more. But all of them were either played by humans, had the characters created by CGI, or were entirely animations.
This film b however, would put a real AI robot character.
If b pushes through, it could be the first film ever to have an actual robot for its lead role.
Her creators, Japanese scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa, have created the humanoid back in 2015 as part of their study on robotics, in order to study human-computer interaction.
For Ishiguro, Erica isn't his first creation. In the past, Ishiguro is already a 'father' of dozens of other robots.
Erica was originally meant to make her debut on another film that should have been directed by Tony Kaye (American History X). But since scheduling conflicts and the producers parted with Kaye, the project was then dropped.
To make this b film to happen, Ishiguro and Ogawa 'teach' Erica how to act. They do this by applying the principles of method acting to its machine learning.
Speaking to Hollywood Reporter, the film’s visual effects supervisor and producer Sam Khoze, explained that:
"We had to simulate her motions and emotions through one-on-one sessions, such as controlling the speed of her movements, talking through her feelings and coaching character development and body language."
The film industry develops as fast as the technology itself.
With more powerful cameras, lighting, to computers advancing powerful enough for visual effects and creating CGI, things on screen are becoming increasingly indistinguishable from reality.
These are some of the reasons why the industry is booming.
But during the coronavirus pandemic, everything slowed down. This resulted to Hollywood in entering a limbo. And here. Erica demonstrates that it can lead a movie by replacing human actors, easier than previously thought possible.
This again shows how AI and robots are likely to replace a lot more jobs in the future.
For example, AI and robots are already employed in factories, automatically answering the phone calls, reading news as journalists, and many many more.
But the film industry won't be replacing humans with robots yet, especially since the industry involves creative professions and acting skills that need emotions of the actors/actresses. These are some of things that AI and robots don't have.
When the news broke, b has yet to have a director or any human co-stars. But the producers are said to already have taken some footage from the film in 2019 in Japan. The rest of the film is planned to be shot in 2021 in Europe.