5.7/10
314
6 user 3 critic

Sunspring (2016)

A computer generated the screenplay for this short science fiction film.

Director:

Oscar Sharp

Writer:

Benjamin (as Benjamin, a system-on-chip [SOC] computer with graphics processing unit [GPU], running a 'long short term memory' [LSTM] recurrent neural network [RNN])
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Thomas Middleditch ... H
Humphrey Ker ... C
Elisabeth Gray ... H
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Storyline

A computer generated the screenplay for this short science fiction film.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

nonsense | experimental film | See All (2) »

Genres:

Short | Sci-Fi

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The screenplay was written by an artificial intelligence. The goal of the film was to see if a computer could write a screenplay that could win a competition. See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening titles read:

Just above your smartphone keyboard lives an artificial intelligence. It was trained on lots of texts and emails, And tries to guess what you'll type next.

We were curious what would happen if we trained this kind of software on something else;

Science fiction screenplays.

So we fed a LSTM Recurrent Neural Network with these: [Numerous screenplays are listed as .txt files.] Then gathered a cast & crew for one day.

Then we fed in random seeds from a sci-fi filmmaking contest...

Prompts Title: Sunspring Dialogue: "It may never be forgiven, but that is just too bad." Prop & action: A character pulls a book from a shelf, flips through it and puts it back. Optional science idea: In a future with mass unemployment, young people are forced to sell blood. ...Gave it a cup of really hot tea...

...And turned it on.

This was the screenplay it wrote:

[Screenplay shown on screen]

Along with these song lyrics: [Lyrics shown on screen]

What follows

is our attempt at making it.

Sunspring See more »

Connections

Featured in It's No Game (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Home on the Land
Lyrics by Benjamin (as The Computer)
Music by Tiger Darrow and Andrew Orkin
See more »

User Reviews

The computer aspect is only successful in so much as it shows the power of creative people
21 February 2017 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

If you have heard of this short film then you almost certainly have done so due to the "written by artificial intelligence" element, which is not only an interesting idea, but of course is a good headline to get your film some attention (certainly this is what worked for me). It raises the question about whether or not a computer algorithm can write a sci-fi script if you feed it lots of other ones to work from. The obvious answer provided by the resulting script is "no; no it can't". However the much more interesting thing that the film shows about technology in filmmaking is that when it is only a tool in the hands of talented people then it can work.

Sunspring shows us this by taking a script which plays like a nonsense poem, and turns it into a surprisingly dramatic and amusing sci-fi love-triangle with dark secrets in a futuristic world. The team find the meaning in the words wherever they can; where they can't they turn to the camera and the cast to give it some sort of context to help it work. In short it is the delivery of the film, not the origins of it, that makes it work. The presence of Middlemarch got the headlines due to his role in Silicon Valley, but the other two actors are just as good – in particular Gray gives the final dialogue scene a lot more heart than it has on paper. There is humor in here, tension, pain, heart – and almost none of this comes from the computer generated script.

That is maybe a little harsh, because one should give some credit to Benjamin (the algorithm essentially) for its phrasing. At times the lines are garbage (lots of 'I don't know' in there) but here and there you get some wonderful lines which are either joyful in their randomness (I have to go to the skull), or have an unexpected poetry to them (he looks at me, and he throws me out of his eyes).

None of this yet mentions that this film was also one of the 48-hour challenges; a nice idea which usually produces films which are not so much good films as they are just achievements in working against a clock. For sure Sunspring is a very well-produced film even without this context; and it is encouraging to see that a film playing with technology succeeds in confirming that it is the creative and talented people that make the film work, not the technology they used to make it.


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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 June 2016 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

End Cue See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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