AI in Film Writing
AI is the hot topic of 2023, is it going to replace us? Will we have an army of robots on the rampage, coming to wipe us out? Is it going to encourage fraud? Or is it going to make lives easier and advance the fields of science and medicine? Of course, the film industry is no different, people are concerned it’s going to put them out of work their strikes in America from the Writers Guild of America are raising concerns about two things, the streaming services not paying them residuals, and the concern that their jobs may not be safe if studio heads think they can just hire a bank of computers do write the scripts for them.
Now the latter is in no way realistic, can a computer come up with the creative subtleties to write a compelling story well? That being said, there are a lot of movies out there that are pretty poorly written, intended for the mass cheeseburger market, films based on a cookie-cutter system structure with a consistent success rate, and that’s what AI can predict and work upon, although original concepts are yet to be seen.
Simple Questions Posed To An AI App
“Create an exciting new superhero”
This was its response:
Name: Lightning Strike
Origin Story: Lucas Jackson was an ordinary electrical engineer working in a power plant when an unexpected accident occurred during a severe thunderstorm. A massive lightning bolt struck the power plant, causing a catastrophic explosion. Miraculously, Lucas survived the blast, but he was forever changed. The electricity coursing through his body fused with his DNA, granting him incredible powers.
- Electrokinesis: Lucas has complete control over electricity and can generate, manipulate, and discharge it at will. He can summon lightning bolts, create electrical barriers, and even transform his body into living electricity, allowing him to travel at lightning speed.
- Electric Energy Absorption: Lucas can absorb electricity from any source, including power grids, lightning storms, and even energy-based attacks from enemies. This ability not only replenishes his powers but also grants him temporary enhancements, such as increased strength and agility.
- Electromagnetic Sensory Perception: Lucas has an innate ability to sense and perceive electromagnetic fields. He can detect energy signatures, and electrical disturbances, and even see through solid objects by interpreting the electromagnetic waves around them.
- Electrical Healing: Lucas can use his electrical powers to heal himself and others. He can mend wounds, accelerate cellular regeneration, and even revive individuals who have recently died, using a surge of electricity to restart their hearts.
- Technopathy: Lucas has a natural affinity for machines and technology. He can interface with electronic systems, override security protocols, and control complex machinery using his electrical powers. This ability also enables him to communicate with computers and gather information from digital networks.
Costume and Appearance: Lightning Strike wears a sleek, black and blue suit made from a highly conductive and flexible material that enhances his electrical powers. The case features lightning bolt patterns and a glowing emblem on his chest, symbolising his electricity connection. He wears a mask that covers his eyes, leaving only his mouth visible, maintaining his secret identity. When using his powers, arcs of electricity course through his veins, illuminating his body in a pulsating blue glow.
Personality: Lucas is a determined and compassionate hero, driven by a sense of justice and a desire to protect others. He has a scientific mind and uses his expertise to find creative solutions to problems. Despite his immense powers, he remains humble and values teamwork, often collaborating with other superheroes to tackle larger threats. Lucas is known for his quick wit and resourcefulness in battle, relying on his powers and strategic thinking to outsmart his opponents.
Arch-Nemesis: Lucas’s arch-nemesis is a villain known as Surge, who possesses similar electrical powers but uses them for selfish and destructive purposes. Surge seeks to harness and control all electrical energy, aiming to become the most powerful being on Earth. Their ongoing battles are epic clashes of lightning and energy, representing the eternal struggle between good and evil in the realm of electricity.
Backstory: After the accident, Lucas embraced his newfound powers and dedicated himself to protecting his city from various threats. He uses his engineering skills to develop advanced gadgets and devices that complement his abilities. In his civilian life, Lucas maintains his job as an electrical engineer, using his knowledge to improve energy infrastructure and promote sustainable practices. However, he must constantly balance his superhero duties with his personal life, striving to keep his true identity a secret while fighting for justice as Lightning Strike.
Note, it wrote all of this in less than a minute. Is it any good? Not really. Is it original? No. Could it sell? Quite possibly.
AI does seem to understand the necessary ingredients for making a film, character arcs, and plotline twists, although the twists lack subtleties and complexities, it certainly has enough to make some writers fear for their careers given the extra competition.
Give me a sample scene with dialogue.
Scene: A bustling city street at night. Lightning Strike, in his electrifying costume, stands atop a tall building, scanning the area with his electromagnetic perception. Suddenly, he detects a group of criminals attempting to rob a nearby bank. He leaps into action, gracefully landing in front of the startled criminals.
Lightning Strike: (with a confident tone) Well, well, well, what do we have here? Planning a withdrawal without an invitation?
Criminal Leader: (trying to regain composure) Who the hell are you?
Lightning Strike: (smirking) Just call me Lightning Strike. And I’m here to put an end to your little escapade.
Criminal Leader: (laughing) You think you can stop us with your fancy costume and sparks? We’ve dealt with worse.
Lightning Strike: (raising an eyebrow) Oh, I assure you, this is more than just a fancy costume. It’s time for you to learn firsthand the power of electricity.
As the criminals reach for their guns, Lightning Strike raises his hand, summoning a surge of electricity that crackles and dances between his fingers. The air around him fills with electric energy.
Criminal Leader: (nervously) Alright, alright, maybe we don’t need the money that badly. We’ll back off!
Lightning Strike: (smiling) Smart choice. Now, drop your weapons and consider a new career path. I hear there’s a demand for bankers who play by the rules.
Reluctantly, the criminals drop their guns and back away slowly. Lightning Strike uses his technopathy to disable their getaway vehicle, ensuring they won’t escape.
Lightning Strike: (in a more serious tone) Remember, this city deserves better than criminals like you. Find a way to make amends, or you’ll find yourselves on the receiving end of more than just a shock.
With that, Lightning Strike activates his electrical speed, disappearing in a flash of blue lightning. The criminals are left in awe, realising they narrowly escaped a powerful force of justice.
Criminal Leader: (whispering) Lightning Strike… We won’t forget this. We’ll see who has the last laugh.
The scene ends with the criminals dispersing, their plans foiled, while Lightning Strike’s electrified form races through the city, ready to face the next challenge that awaits him.
Again, this was provided in less than a minute.
Is it any good? It’s painfully horrible, the only writers threatened by this should find another career anyway.
But here’s the thing, this is only the start of AI, where will it be in two, three, or ten years? I doubt it will be writing Citizen Kane, but it certainly won’t be getting any worse than Lightning Strike.
Creating A Comedy
The next test was to ask it to create a comedy based on a judge who’s secretly the head of a mafia family.
Creation – “The Honourable Don”
Title: “The Honorable Don”
Logline: A seemingly upright judge has a secret double life as a powerful mafia boss. Hilarity ensues when his two worlds collide, forcing him to juggle courtroom shenanigans and mobster antics while desperately trying to keep his true identity hidden.
Synopsis: “The Honorable Don” is a comedy film that explores the absurd and comical situations that arise when Judge Anthony Marino, an esteemed member of the judiciary, leads a clandestine life as Don Antonio, the head of a notorious mafia family. As the story unfolds, the line between his respectable public image and his criminal empire becomes increasingly blurred.
It provided breakdowns for five characters and provided a sample scene (which was less than impressive)
Creating a Script
I’m sorry, but generating an entire script is beyond the scope of what I can provide in this text-based interface. Writing a script involves extensive planning, character development, and scene descriptions, which require a more detailed and interactive process.
However, I can help you with specific scenes, and dialogue, or guide your script if you have any questions or need assistance with certain aspects.
It’s still limited, that being said, this was only one particular AI app, there might be others that would oblige and be capable.
Another stumbling block that AI will have is the cultural and social nuances that might be deemed offensive to social norms. It’s hard for AI to gauge these without a human perspective. I’d suggest given that social tropes are seemingly changing regularly it’s hard enough for humans at the best of times to create films and characters that aren’t going to be uncomfortable for some, how many films from the 80s and ’90s, pleasant and mild enough at the time, would cause great offence today? This is now an unavoidable factor as society becomes seemingly more tribalistic in their appetites and day-to-day lives, so the gentle touch is required to navigate through this, AI does not have that touch yet.
It’s not just the creative side of filmmaking that will change, but storylines too. It’s easy to fail to notice that the proliferation of mobile phones changed elements within the nature of a story, and poses challenges and solutions to various genres, think Sean Connery in Thunderball if he had an iPhone, or Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible if he didn’t. AI is now going to be a mainstay in our lives, and the movies are going to have to reflect that. The kid that hopes his crush will come over and help with his homework won’t have that excuse anymore, he’s got AI now.
There’s another area of AI that people should be exploring, one that could be very helpful and that comes down to combatting issues that film-makers face every day during production. It’s an absolute certainty that unforeseen problems raise their ugly head on a near daily basis, and when one causes an issue that threatens budget and/or schedule you don’t have the luxury of time to dwell on what the solution may be. In this scenario, if given the correct information, and the vital requirements for your film, there’s a good possibility AI could work out what areas to redress, allowing the filmmaker to continue in the most efficient way possible.
I think it would be an interesting exercise for AI to create 10 log lines for 10 unique films and to see if they could be pitched to a studio exec and whet their appetite. I’m pretty sure if this hasn’t happened already, it will happen soon enough.
For now, writers shouldn’t be too worried.
Written by Mark Murphy Director