A $70 million sci-fi film has cast an A.I. robot in its lead role. Yes, the premise sounds like the script of a movie belonging to the genre, but this is real life. b is a science fiction film starring a robot named Erica, being backed by Bondit Capital Media, who financed Loving Vincent and To the Bone. They are joined by Happy-Moon Productions and Ten Ten Global Media in their support of the project. b is being billed as the first film to rely on an artificially intelligent actor. The premise couldn’t have come along at a better time for an industry trying to find its way in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. When trying to mitigate the impact of the disease, the creative team won’t have to worry about their star.
b is the brainchild of visual effects supervisor Eric Pham, along with Tarek Zohdy, and Sam Khoze. Life Entertainment will also be helping with a role in production. The film is set to follow a scientist who runs afoul of a program he created to refine human DNA. In that quest for perfection, thee scientist designs Erica and tries to help her escape from would-be pursuers.
Japanese scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa helped bring Erica to life here in the real world. Their study of robotics influenced her thought patterns and ways she interacts with others. The duo used method acting principles to help shape her performance, which feels kind of spooky. Khoze spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about their experience so far and the scientists’ impact.
“In other methods of acting, actors involve their own life experiences in the role,” the producer explained. “But Erica has no life experiences. She was created from scratch to play the role. 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.”
Strangely enough, Erica wasn’t exactly desperate for work. According to THR, she was originally set to debut in a film helmed by American History X director Tony Kaye. The producers and the opinionated director couldn’t see eye to eye and parted ways. There is no director attached to the film and a human co-star has not been announced either. Some of Erica’s scenes have already been shot in Japan back in 2019, but the producers expect to complete the rest of the film in Europe during the summer of 2021.
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