Tag Archives: metropolis

Not a circuit short by Kent Hill

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We have to go back to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to find the roots of Garo Setian’s AUTOMATION. A machine, a construct, built in man’s image. It will walk like him, talk like him . . . but can it feel? Can an artificial intelligence handle all of the the complexities of a human? If you prick it, it will not bleed, but it can simulate pain. If you tickle it, it will not laugh, but it could simulate laughter. RoboCop and Short Circuit are in part, about machines dealing with that veritable head full of bad wiring we call the human condition. We have the built-in propensity to be all right and all wrong in the same sentence. So if a machine were to feel the betrayal of a lie, be heartbroken by the bitterness of a romantic rejection; if we wrong it . . . will it not revenge?

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Setian’s film packs an enormous subtext for an independent production, but the small budget hasn’t stopped this cast and crew from firing on all cylinders. A workplace robot, AUTO, transforms into a killing machine when he discovers he will be replaced by a more efficient model. AUTO fears being terminated and will stop at nothing to prevent his own destruction. The human employees must band together to stop him before it’s too late.

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A few words from the Director:

It seems every day there is another news story or article concerning the threat of machines replacing people in the workplace.  We are also seeing stories about the development of robots that can learn to behave more human by observing human behavior.
So what would happen when a robot with this ability to learn, replaces humans in the workplace, but then faces the prospect of being replaced by more advanced technology?  Our movie AUTOMATION is a cheeky take on this concept.
Our goal was to tell an interesting and timely story with characters the audience cares about.  So despite the film being a satire of corporate cost cutting and planned obsolescence, there is a true heart to the movie in the relationship between Auto and Jenny.
We are so grateful to our talented cast and crew of pros who came together out of love for this script, and the desire to make something fun. We hope the audience finds AUTOMATION an entertaining 91 minutes that is funny, exciting, has a few surprises and is ultimately kind of moving.
 
Thanks for watching!
Garo Setian
Writer /Director/Producer/Editor –
Automation
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And now the director and cast…

GARO SETIAN

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PARRY SHEN

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JEFF J. KNIGHT

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KH: You join a great tradition of suit performers, like Anthony Daniels and Doug Jones; is that a mantle you aspire to?

JK: ABSOLUTELY! The performances that Doug Jones manages to portray through all those layers of special effects make up is just unmatched. There is something to having your character be presented as real as it possibly can be.  I love C3-PO, and would love to have met Mr. Daniels but we were in the strong capable technical hands of @evilted_smith, master at what he does, prop armor, weapons, helmets, guns.

 KH: What was your first impression upon reading the script?

JK: It really felt like a winner right off the bat, but then they kept adding layers to the characters and back stories which only enhanced the emotional center of the movie. This movie really does have a heart of gold. 

KH: Garo, the director, has come from a prolific career as an editor, how do you feel carried over to his directing style?

JK: He wasn’t an asshole at all! Just Kidding …. he was open to suggestions, and worked great with his first AD And DOP. He had a vision for scenes and how they would cut together and he really brought all that to life on the screen. 

KH: Actors infuse their own life experience into the characters they play; what did the part you played bring out of your own personality and in turn, what did you find the role demanded of you?

JK: Before starting onset I took some intense acting classes at the Clu Gulager school of acting here in LA. Clu is literally an old time cowboy (Gunsmoke, Bonanza)  and really told me how it was and didn’t sugar coat anything. His advice on how to present the robot to the world and how he would interact back was some of the coolest memories I have in almost 5 years of Acting and Cosplay here in LA. 

KH: Do you think the world is truly ready for a machine with the complexities of human emotions?

JK: GOD NO, we can barely keep our own emotions under wraps. Let’s work on becoming better people ourselves before we try and perfect the human being in a robot form. 

KH: If you were to wake up one morning to find all that you are transferred into a robotic body….what would you do?

JK: Not shower or shave…. for like, a while.
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KH: Tell us a little of your journey leading up to AUTOMATION?
SK: I had been filming a lot of strictly horror films and was really excited to shoot something that was also mixed with syfy elements.  I’ve known Garo as well as Esther for quite sometime and I was really stoked that the right project had come up for us to finally work together.  
KH: What was your first impression upon reading the script?
SK: I actually really fell in love with Auto and loved his relationship with Jenny (Elissa Dowling).  As much as the script was fun and quirky I really appreciated that bigger questions were being presented in the story about future A.I. and how companies are facing a lot of conflicts on saving money versus employing humans.  I was a little thrown off by Susan because I’m used to playing villains in horror but I really didn’t want to play Susan as a villain.  There’s a rule in acting of not judging your characters.  I really wanted to find humor in Susan as well. I thought that there was a lot of fear of failure in Susan which is why she had so many guards up.  I don’t want to give anything away but I really wanted the audience to forgive her and be able to root for her as well.  What I loved about the script was that it had a lot of quick jokes and was a fun ride too.  It’s a gift when you’re doing an indie film and they don’t take themselves too seriously.  I think that’s what makes a B movie really worth watching and kinda anoints it into an instant classic.    
KH: Garo, the director, has come from a prolific career as an editor, how do you feel carried over to his directing style?
SK: Knowing Garo as a friend and how excited he was about directing carried over in his enthusiasm about the project.  As an editor I think it was hard for the cast at first to understand how carefully the film was already edited in his head.  I won’t say that’s a bad thing when someone has the amount of editing experience Garo does. It’s just a different style as an actor you kinda have to take that in but not allow your work to be results based.  Garo is an extremely kind, somewhat careful, super respectful human- he goes out of his way to be a nice guy.  I felt like he was open to all our ideas about our characters.  But, there’s a point as the director where they sometimes have to kind of take the wheel and drive.  Sometimes, especially on shoots that have limited days it means not always being the nice guy.  It was exciting to watch Garo grow in a short time into a director who knew what he wanted and trusted that.  They say a movie is made three times; first writing the script, then shooting and again while editing.  Sometimes you work with a director who you think is amazing on set and then you see the film and you’re like oh no!  They don’t understand pacing or the overall tone of the story.  Watching the final cut; I was blown away by the finished film.  His attention to detail was just lovely and the movie is consistent in tone- that’s not always an easy thing when your film is a mix of genres. 
KH: Actors infuse their own life experience into the characters they play; what did the part you played bring out of your own personality and in turn, what did you find the role demanded of you?
SK: I related to Susan because I’m naturally a pretty nervous person but I can be pretty relentless in getting what I want.  I touched on this before but I thought Susan should have a little vulnerability. I love the idea of people showing who they really are in stressful situations.     
KH: Do you think the world is truly ready for a machine with the complexities of human emotions?
SK: I’m giving myself away here but I graduated highschool right as the internet was becoming available for everyone.  I personally don’t believe we were really ready for that kinda barrage of information.  So, the idea of a machine able to generate emotions is terrifying to me.  I think the purpose of technology should be to bring people closer and make life easier but I don’t think it should ever be a substitute for real human interaction.  The biggest problem is relationships are all about compromise and fear of rejection.  I’m afraid that robots would be a one way compromise from the robots- when to grow as people we both have to be willing to risk rejection and also to learn from it. 
KH: If you were to wake up one morning to find all that you are transferred into a robotic body….what would you do?
SK: Find a very high bridge and jump.
Here is a link where you can see where AUTOMATION is available to view or purchase…
 
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An Exorcism in Awesomeness by Kent Hill

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I don’t know what they are putting in the water over there in Germany, but I have of late had the privilege of speaking with some of the country’s brightest indie stars. Starting with Dominik Starck and his action movie man-at-arms, Nico Sentner. Then, I stumble into the path of a couple more revolutionaries and fine gentlemen to boot, Erza Tsegaye and Nicolas Artajo – talking about their little gem of a movie, and as history will tell, the forerunner of a new wave in German horror films . . . SKIN CREEPERS. This country Germany seems to have more than just good beer on tap . . . seems the brew cool movie-makers too.

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It’s the story (partially inspired by true events:  where a Korean family performed an exorcism on a young woman who sadly lost her life) of two unsuccessful filmmakers who want to make a pornographic movie, and things go very, very wrong. See, their lead actress . . . . gets possessed by a demon.

It’s a film,  although shot on a limited budget, that is already being recognized for its stunning visual effects and its old-school practical approach to film-making. Following a successful German theatrical run, the film is now celebrating its international release in the US, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Ireland on multiple major VOD Platforms, including Amazon Prime and Tubi, among others.

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Filmmaker Ezra Tsegaye, worked previously in commercials as a storyboard artist for Hollywood films such as “THE INTERNATIONAL,” and is also a successful comic strip artist, who was involved in the creation of the first original German superhero comic. This background as a comic book/storyboard artist is mainly responsible for the film’s unique visual style. The picture, produced by media entrepreneur Sebastian Wolf, started the project with the intent to revolutionize German Horror Cinema, putting it back on the map by giving this extraordinary movie the chance to reach the big screen.

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So we chatted about the movie, of course. I heard what I would sound like – if dubbed for German audiences. There was talk of good beer, and a pub crawl in Berlin with the boys. How could this interviewer refuse?

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SKIN CREEPERS, get out there and enjoy it…The Exorcist meets Evil Dead with a sexy twist!

Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice – A Review by Nate Hill

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Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Wow. Where to even start. What a symphony of scorched earth heroics, a two and a half hour maelstrom of thundering action, introspective gloom and very current vibes of apocalyptic dread. I’m not sure if I was watching an entirely different film from some of these bitter bottomed critics who are maiming it with inaccurately nasty reviews. Balls to them. Zach Snyder should be proud of this achievment, for in the face of both ruthless odds and rabid fans who would make any one of us piss down our legs at the thought of ‘getting it right’, he has mounted a titanic epic of a superhero flick, hitting all the right notes and fuelling both casual moviegoers and salivating super fans with a rekindled love for comic book films. A much welcomed grit and violent edge creeps into the proceedings here, a tone which Snyder has a passion for and is incredibly deft with. We begin with a visually arresting opening credit sequence, which Snyder previously perfected to hair raising brilliance in Watchmen, a ten minute opus set to Bob Dylan. Here he inter cuts shots of young Bruce Wayne, both discovering the prophetic swarm of bats and on the fateful night of his parents murder, a sequence done over a thousand times in film, but never quite with the inventive flair used here. We then arrive with adult Bruce (Ben Affleck) in Metropolis right as it’s being ripped to shreds by the Def Jam smackdown match of Superman (Henry Cavill) and Zod (Michael Shannon). There’s eerie shades of 9/11 as Bruce darts through the ashen rubble, attempting to save the employees in one of his towers. One senses the fear and rage in Wayne right off the bat (pun intended). He glowers in seething fury at the man of steel, primally threatened and haunted all over again by loved ones he couldn’t save a second time around. This film addresses the ludicrous amount of destruction that Superman wrought upon Metropolis in several ways. Political nerve endings are fried as Senate and State alike get hostile towards the god in the red cape. No one is more aggressive than Batman, though. This brings me to Affleck as Batman. Without a doubt my favourite cinematic incarnation of the caped crusader, and his debonair counterpart to date. Yes, even more so than Bale. Nolan’s The Dark Knight is still tops for me, but the  portrayal of Batman by Bale didn’t strike as harmonious a chord with me as Affleck. It just didn’t feel like pure Batman, it was real world Batman. Affleck feels much more rooted in the comics, and God damn it all if he isn’t the most savage, violent Bats to come our way, well… ever. I’ve always been bothered by the nagging fact that Batman refuses to kill. Even in in a beatdown he could easily inadvertently cause death, so why bother trying? Here, he doesn’t go out of his way to deliberatly kill, but he sure has no problem brutally breaking bones and stabbing his adversaries without an iota of faux-noble hesitation. That’s the kind of Batman I want to see. Fuming, fired up and full of rage demons that erupt into fantastic action scenes. One sequence involving a room full of thugs is just jaw dropping and probably my favourite sequence of the film, even over the titular smackdown with Superman. There’s an earthy, simplistic take to him as well, with a modest suit that gives nods to Frank Miller and even Batman: The Animated Series. He is by far the elemental force that the character should be, and the part of the film that I connected with most. I hope he gets his standalone film real soon. Henry Cavill has grace and intuition as Superman, and a surprisingly earthly aura as Clark Kent, in a fit about Batman’s vigilante tactics. He’s the outsider here, an orphaned deity truly trying to do his best in a world that often shuns him in fear. He was never my favourite superhero, or even on the list, but Cavill combined with Snyder make him a force to be reckoned with, and a hero I can get behind. The two eventually meet in a remarkably choreographed clash of the titans, a duel that really only lasts a few minutes and isn’t central theme, which raises questions in my head about the first part of that title. Their fight is composed of Batman’s hard hitting, blunt force physicality pitted against Superman’s fluid, elegent invincibility which is satisfyingly put to the test by the appearance of a certain green mineral we all know about. The James Cameron-esque suit Batman wears for the fight is a grinding wonder that looks like it weighs a metric ton and could level buildings alongside the man of steel. The combat feels urgent, from the gut and roars into action perfectly. Of course, that isn’t where the fireworks stop, but I ain’t sayin any more than that. Gal Gadot is truly wonderful as Wonder Woman, I also can’t wait for her solo outing, and wish she’d been in the film more. Her much talked about entrance is the definition of crowd pleasing, and will make you cheer in approval, which I did out loud. She’s  endlessly gorgeous, and has the toughness to go along with it, a great casting decision by anyone’s tally. Jesse Eisenberg wowed me as a young, jittery Lex Luthor, in what is probably the most clinically insane portrayal thus far. Forget bumbling Gene Hackman and hammy Kevin Spacey, this guy seals it for me. There’s a true madness to his Lex, which when given enough money and resources can have cataclysmic results. It’s a villain  to remember, and Eisenberg exudes palpable danger from every pore, his psychopathic sheen of logic barely shrouding the mania beneath. Jeremy Irons is a more restrained, jaded Alfred who is still unconditionally supportive of Wayne, but is reaching the end of his rope which is tethered to pure world weariness. He gets some of the only humerous bits of the film, albeit of dry, brittle variety. Amy Adams is reliably terrific, her eyes pools of perception that mirror the horror and spectacle of the events through the mind of a human, with every ounce of nerve and courage as those around her that have superpowers, or expensive toys. Diane Lane is weathered wisdom and maternal compassion as Martha Kent, nailing her scenes with the small town, kindhearted patience that a film this noisy deserves, tipping the scales to provide occasional serenity in the eye of the hurricane. Kevin Costner makes a brief appearance in one of the films numerous and often confusing dream sequences. He was a highlight in Man Of Steel, and brings the same baleful, gruff adoration here, in a wonderful but brief scene with Clark. Laurence Fishburne is another source of rare humour as the perpetually exasperated Perry, CEO of the Daily Planet. Aggravated and cheeky, he commands every frame he’s in and had me chuckling no end. Holly Hunter has forged a career of playing no nonsense hard asses, here a ballbreaking US Senator here who shares a moment of distilled intensity with Luthor proving that Superhero films can have some of the best written dialogue. Harry Lennix makes great use of said writing too as the steely Secretary Of Defense. Callan Mulvey and Scoot McNairy are memorable in supporting turns. Listen hard for Patrick Wilson and Carla Gugino, and look for a certain ocean dwelling dude in the briefest of moments. Jeffrey Dean Morgan also has a cameo that’s almost too good to be true. Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL, who was so top notch with Mad Max: Fury Road, combine efforts for a score that knocks it out of the park and several miles further. Batman has a soul rousing battle cry of an overture, with subtle shades of Zimmer’s work on the Nolan films, built upon to give us something truly unique and fitting for the character. Lex Luthor is accompanied by a fitful cacophony of strings that sound like the Arkham Asylum charity orchestra having a collectively unnerving seizure. My favourite riff though I think is for Wonder Woman, a deviously disarming jaunt that strays from the grandiose, baroque theme and feels wickedly subversive, getting you just so pumped for her character. Zimmer’s work on Interstellar made it my top score of 2014, because he leapt out of the box of his usual tricks and gave us something we’d never heard from him before. Here he shreds that box with ingenuity and creative output, a varied, explosive piece that assaults your ears splendidly. My one concern with the film was a dream sequence midway through concerning Batman, and anyone who’s seen the film knows what I’m talking about. I’m sure comic book fans have some point of reference or context regarding it, but the casual viewer doesn’t, and a little more explaining would have been nice. I will say though it showcases Batman in an entirely new light which took me off guard nicely. This is what a superhero movie should be, plain and simple. Big, bold, audacious, stirring and full of high flying action, dastardly villains, conflicted heroes clashing like the ocean tides and a sense of pure adventure. Forget what the critics are saying, this one comes up aces in all categories and is a perfectly wonderful start to the stories of a group of characters that I look forward to seeing in many a film to come. Especially Affleck’s Batman.