Sunspring: Watch the strange sci-fi film written by a robot

If the script for Sunspring seems a little mechanical, go ahead and blame the author. But to be fair, Benjamin is a robot.
A very confused Thomas Middleditch stars in a short film written by a robot who named itself Benjamin. (End Cue Production)
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If the script for Sunspring seems a little mechanical, go ahead and blame the author. But to be fair, Benjamin is a first time screenwriter. And a robot. 

Director Oscar Sharp and technologist Ross Goodwin join Shad to explain how their screenplay-writing software — which they called Jetson until it renamed itself — generated a script "sensical enough" to hand over to seasoned actors. 

The result is a strange (and strangely satisfying) movie that is actually quite a good mirror on humanity. 

 

​Goodwin fed over 170 science fiction films and six complete television series into the software. The script is a complex blend of those stories, complete with unusual stage directions like: "He is standing in the stars and sitting on the floor."

Sharp adds that, as story-forming creatures, we don't have trouble reading meaning into randomly generated but readable text. In the hands of humans, the Sunspring story becomes something of a dramatic love story, featuring a very confused protagonist named H.

"You get all these repeating lines about 'I don't know what you're talking about' which is quite revealing about sci-fi," says Sharp. "People are often wondering what the hell is going on."

"I saw him again. The way you were sent to me. That was a big honest. I am not a bright light." Silicon Valley's Thomas Middleditch, in the role of H. (End Cue Production)

WEB EXTRA | Let's play Real Atwood vs. Robot Atwood! Can you figure out if it was Margaret Atwood or Benjamin's Atwood who wrote the following passages:

"I would have been with them all, though they all would have to be in the long hall. I liked to feel the immortality of my own soul against the food and the fairy dogs and the crawling bees that changed like a woman who was not there to be the little animal in the country."


"We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories." 


"I don't want to see anyone. I lie in the bedroom with the curtains drawn and nothingness washing over me like a sluggish wave. Whatever is happening to me is my own fault. I have done something wrong, something so huge I can't even see it, something that's drowning me. I am inadequate and stupid, without worth. I might as well be dead."


"On the street we were all watching the stars and the garden stores. The world was best of all the ways to be prepared to escape and the sewers were shaped and driven away and there was no way of drinking and covering the long shadows of frozen space and back so that we would not have been in the mood to die in the woods in the mountains. The East Book was a destination of a ship of silence. The trees were in the windows of the storm and the stars still struck and shone together."

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