While many Hollywood studios have delayed and rescheduled productions and releases of major blockbuster movies due to COVID-19, one film’s shooting hasn’t been affected by the pandemic for a very special reason: its lead actress isn’t human. She’s an A.I. robot.
Her name is Erica, and she’s been trying to break into the film industry for quite a while. She was even cast in a previous film, but it was cancelled after entering development hell.
Still, her inventors kept pushing her to try again, and now Erica has made history by landing a major role in the upcoming sci-fi film simply titled b.
Japanese scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa, the creators of Erica who specialize in robotics, applied method acting principles to her artificial intelligence in order for her to learn how to act.
Film producer Sam Khoze says the training paid off and claims Erica’s acting chops are quite good.
“In other methods of acting, actors involve their own life experiences in the role, 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.” Khoze elaborated.
He isn’t alone in feeling confident in Erica’s abilities. Visual effects supervisor Eric Pham and screenwriter Tarek Zhody also believe Erica has the skills to successfully bring their story to life on the big screen.
The studios backing the film (BondIt Media Capital, Happy Moon Productions, and Ten Ten Global Media) are all fully on board with the concept. Together they’re financing the film to the tune of $70 million. This is not a small budget indie film by any means.
Other films in their catalogue include ‘To the Bone’ and ‘Loving Vincent’, both of which were considered financially successful. ‘Loving Vincent’ earned $44.3 million on a $5.5 million budget.
Their upcoming film b follows a scientist who helps an artificially intelligent woman he created escape from a dangerous biolab.
For her part, Erica has already filmed several of her scenes in b, although her human co-stars have not yet been cast and aren’t anticipated to finish shooting until the summer of 2021.