Sometimes, short films can try too hard to be edgy, different, failing to convey a real message. Especially if they’re meant to win a prize in a quirky competition. But Sunspring is the king of difficult-to-grasp shorts, mainly because it was written by… an artificial intelligence #machinemagic
Benjamin or LSTM (long short-term memory, the name of a recurrent neural network) is the official author of the short. Goodwin, a former ghost writer that used machines to help him write letters for corporate clients, built it and shared it with director Oscar Sharp. In return, Sharp promised to direct a film entirely written by Benjamin. To reach that point though, the AI had to go through dozens of sci-fi screenplays, mostly from the 80s and 90s.
Benjamin learned part of the tools of the trade but he couldn’t master the art of inventing names because they’re very unpredictable, as opposed to normal words. So in Sunspring, characters are named H, H2 and C. They are in a weird love triangle and live in the future. They seem to be talking nonsense, yet the gestures and emotions recreated by the actors make it somewhat credible.
“As soon as we had a read-through, everyone around the table was laughing their heads off with delight,” Sharp told Ars Technica. No wonder – Benjamin’s directions are between hilarious and absurd, such as “he is standing in the stars and sitting on the floor.”
We’ll let you see for yourself the short movie and you can read the live interview with the AI, here.