Watch Sunspring: An AI-Written Sci-Fi Movie Starring Thomas Middleditch

Above you'll find Sunspring. It's a confounding short science fiction film, with dialogue that [...]

Above you'll find Sunspring. It's a confounding short science fiction film, with dialogue that often jumps around and doesn't always make much sense, but it's also shockingly coherent, with a throughline, a story of pain and regret. That's shocking for one reason: an artificial intelligence wrote the entire movie.

Using technology comparable to predictive text on your smartphone, filmmaker Oscar Sharp teamed with Ross Goodwin to build a screenplay-writing computer. Goodwin's resulting piece of technology, an LSTM RNN Artificial Intelligence named Benjamin, was given hundreds of scripts from science fiction film and television. The AI read stories like 12 Monkeys, Blade Runner, the Alien films, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Ghostbusters, Interstellar, Looper, The Matrix, Star Wars, and The X-Files, then wrote a screenplay.

Actors Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley, Penn Zero), Humphrey Ker, and Elisabeth Gray were gathered by Sharp to make the film in one day (and hopefully make it comprehensible). While there is a good amount of repetition (lots of "I don't know" in there), but they managed to deliver an intriguing story that bends the mind like some truly great science fiction can. Benjamin the AI even wrote lyrics for a song for the film, which was also recorded and integrated into the short. The highlight is definitely a rambling (and strangely sexual) monologue delivered by Gray to close out the film, a testament to her emotional delivery - it's really beautiful.

Benjamin and his like are probably not going to start replacing human writers anytime soon, but as a first-of-its-kind proof-of-concept, Sunspring could've been way worse, and offers up something wholly new and intriguing. Hopefully Benjamin gets tweaked and gets to try again soon.