Your new movie Window
Seat - in a few words, what is it about?
Seat was made to be a live action chamber piece in the vein of the hard
theater of yore, from Albee to Mamet, LaBute, Chayefsky, or Roman
Polanski’s Knife in the
Water. It is about three people on a plane, and
all the tension is drawn from this. The magic trick is that everything it
delves into, bullying, the scandal, the whole shebang, is all
psychological, you never question that the film is all mental. To me this
is the best aspiration a writer can realize on screen.
were your sources of inspiration when writing Window
Seat, and is any of it based on personal bad flight experiences or
I would say it is both complete fantasy - and directly autobiographical. I
was always thinking Thom is me and Raiden is God. Things like Thom
shouting at his girlfriend “stop getting involved, you make things
worse, go away," are lines I said directly in the production of Aimy
in a Cage. I am open about using real life as fodder in art, it is the one
venue that the individual's experience not only matters but is its very
subject, à la Woody Allen films. Just
like Raiden is in a position to tell the truth about Thom, Window
positioning itself that way as the “first AI movie”, precisely in
this manner to tell the truth about reality, about people, about
One thing that is interesting is there are actually three character models for
Raiden in this film, but no one has ever complained about this. He is so
blatantly multiple people, but no one cares. How did I get away with that?
The film is pushing so many magic illusions of cinema that is directly
reflecting upon what it is. As Raiden said, “It was never real.”
Seat was made entirely by AI - to ask quite bluntly, why?
Russo said we are two years away from the first AI feature film. I was
just the only one petty enough, and hungry enough to do it at the current
iteration of the technology or to realize it’s actually possible now. Now
the film, in the current state was only possible, as you said in the
review, because I turned the limitations of the technology against itself.
I was inspired by Beatles animation, Monty
Python, by classic Japanese
animation like Belladonna of Sadness. So
I am sure Russo was talking about an AI Spider-Man when he said we’re
two years away—and there is a new thing in the world that we deny the
existence of the arthouse, and that box office and viewership numbers
represent the objective metrics of filmmaking; and yet these people will
always fill their personal greatest films lists with art films and indie
films, you know, the very thing they don’t support and pretend don’t
take us through the process of what it takes to make an AI movie! And how
does one "direct" artificial intelligence?
I have done it the old way, with a crew of thirty and twenty union actors
in 2014. Aimy
in a Cage had a $500,000 budget. Window
had a $190 budget and was
made by just one man. So
I can tell you, unless they make AI filmmaking illegal through
regulatory capture, the film industry just can’t compete with $190. It
is not just that you are limited by reaction shots and performances by
time in tradfilm (an indie film will cost $25,000 to $50,000 per day of
production with a finite schedule), but then you are stuck with what you
shot in the editing room forever. I spent one and a half years editing Aimy
in a Cage. Window
was edited as it was generated in three weeks total.
Yes there are limitations. I had to sometimes generate the same line for over
one hour before it got an intonation correct. There is no dial yet you
turn for more rage, for sarcasm, for humor. You just click it over and
over again until it gives you a reading you like. Lip
motion. I had to generate video 100 times to get lip motion, and some
characters never gave lip motion. I have been trying for weeks—in fact,
I tried today, and I still can’t get it for certain shots.
I will say that because this was the first AI feature film, I didn’t
mind to play up the flaws to remain a record of early AI films; but what
I aim to do going forward is attempting to meet the audience’s demands
for invisible craft. Window
is a one of a kind meta film for me.
What are the advantages but also challenges of making an AI film?
Point is, you are only limited by eternity. The limitlessness of AI filmmaking
gives you millions of opportunities to get the perfect shot or intonation.
That is not only huge, but it single-handedly makes tradfilm obsolete. I
find that the younger generation, when you tell them something amazing,
they shrug and go, so what? They would not even be impressed if you can
step into portals into another universe. So these benefits of AI fall on
deaf ears. Is the film good or not? That is what people will care about.
From a writing standpoint, I looked at my slate for another Window
Seat and I
couldn’t find one. The central concept of the bully carries a
psychological weight larger than the screen, comparable to Aronofsky’s
The Whale. It’s going to be a one of a kind movie for me because I'm not
really a hook sort of writer. From
a filmmaking standpoint, it’s these iconic expressions and reaction
shots. I could never get these from actors.
can you tell us about Window
Seat's look and feel, and to what extent was that informed by the
use of AI?
So whatever are the limitations of the video—and to a lot of non-creatives,
the kind who use ‘art’ as a pejorative, and believe the low-fi video
is a dealbreaker—I want to put forward one thing. There is nothing
stopping Window Seat 2.0 or Window Seat 3.0 as the tech improves, so the
rejection of low-fi video is not an indictment of the artist. However,
what a lot of people found, like RFK jr’s voice, you forget about the
video limitations, you embrace it. This
is because I am a student of film history. All the limitations of this
tech were figured out a century ago. We went forward and backward at the
same time. This
is the impressive thing to me is you reach this sweetspot moment that the
craft disappears. Suddenly, the movie feels like a bonafide black and
white indie film, like Atom Egoyan or something.
the look and feel of the movie, this was only possible by closing the
matte and making it black and white. This let me cut off 33 % of the frame
to get rid of any bad bits of AI, the glitches… for example, she was
cross-eyed in one of the shots, that I could just move half her head over
into the matte.
The $64-question of course, where can Window
Seat be seen?
I raced to get the movie out on July 21 as a protest against the Hollywood
excess of Barbie and Oppenheimer, these films with their massive budgets
ought to be a crime against humanity. There was a point such a thing,
these collectives egregores and tulpas of capitalism floating around like
monstrous parades. Today no one questions any of it or thinks what is
wrong with you? Instead they wear it like a mask. We are consumers, it is
the very oil of the human soul in this realm, but it is an ugly thing as
it interfaces with entertainment. The collective viewing habits are a
dark, not uplifting thing. So
when people were talking about Ryan Gosling’s outfits, I had a link to
the first AI movie up, and it is a feeling I will never be able to
accurately describe. It is the most powerful emotion I have ever felt. It
was like having alien technology. And people were spooked. I was spooked.
My friend later said, it does not matter who is 'first', because AI belongs
to everyone. But this concept is self-selecting. For me, it mattered,
because it was an endeavor made from an expression of both bitterness
against the film industry, simultaneously, it was made from an
impulse to not take no for an answer. The
idea that AI belonged to everyone did not matter in that moment, because
'everyone' did not have a feature.
It was a war against reality, and for a moment... reality will win every
time, except that moment. That drive had made me right for it in the eyes of the cosmos, and it is hard
to wrap one's head around this unless they know about my journey, so
people assume it is some gigantic ego trip.
The movie had been marketed hard as the first AI feature film, but it is in
fact the first. There was another production that put out a press release
that it was going into production, but it was a big sci-fi movie that did
not materialize in time to beat Window
Seat to market.
Let me put it this way, because it is a film with a story, with characters,
that crosses a threshold of artistic competence… I am not talking about
a one hour project on some guys computer with still images and narration,
but an actual filmmaker's film brought to market with performances, story,
editing, mise-en-scene, and scripting. Why
this matters, it is the very thing itself. You cannot separate Window
Seat from its symbolic making.
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of Window
It is the most hate I have ever experienced in my life. The trailer was
banned within two minutes on Reddit. I have never faced this much
opposition before. My attitude was always that I would drink their tears,
but their tears had been poisoned. One
guy helping to publicize it immediately resigned the second the first hate
comment came in. Two of my film business friends of almost ten years
blocked me because they were offended that I made an AI movie. Some
of the public, it was like dealing with actual zoo animals.
The world asks change in all of us, and we oblige reluctantly, while the trad
filmmakers are unable to wrestle with the blows of life that is demanded
from all of us. They ought to embrace this like we all must. So Window
Seat is not a Walt Disney early experimental animation for the
whole family, it is a declaration of war against the system they are
clinging to, the system of the rich hoarding the ability to make art like
some heirloom they pass on to their relatives. The system pushing director
by committee, treating low frequency opinions like objective fact and the
box office totals like a sports score. That has nothing to do with art or
filmmaking. That is playing solitaire on death row, counting down the
minutes to their doom distracting themselves with pea-brained nonsense. So
Seat is not a happy movie, it is not happy to be the first, or be
born at all. As Addison says in the film, “I need you to cut this bastard to shreds.
This is personal, this is a long-time coming. Do not get in the way.”
Any future projects you'd like to share?
I am working on a medieval horror film called The Mass, on AI, because I
want to continue to legitimize this craft. The
philosophy going forward is, Window
Seat was okay to play up the limitations in
a tongue-in-cheek way. But I want to represent the medium to the cutting
edge which means we do have to figure out hairstyles, clothing, and
movie's website, social media, whatever else?
I am on all the social medias, so add me, make up for the ones who blocked
me for making this movie!
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I have come to see a lot of the viewing public does not identify with
Hollywood movies, they identify with Hollywood itself. And I do not see it
as easy as we hope. Filmmaking will resemble what the publishing industry
has become, where there are tens of thousands of authors, some even make
an incredible living, but they are trapped in an island unable to reach
any kind of mainland.
As well the elitism of tradfilm and the industry will only deepen. We may see
a total blackout of AI filmmakers, that it will be a silent agreement
among critics, distributors, and festivals, that AI filmmaking is not
real filmmaking and that the people who work in it are the enemy. By then,
there must be a parallel underground film movement, which will eventually
become the new film business.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I have already gotten the “you are not a real filmmaker”-card, and I
in a Cage, so I am convinced it’s not just that you have to
movies to be considered a filmmaker, but that you have to
make the next Spider-Man
movie to be considered a
filmmaker by them.
Ultimately, what is even bigger than being “the first AI movie” is the concept
of one person being able to make a film with no one else involved. AI filmmaking becomes more meaningful when you
realize it is not made by
machines, but that the director is everyone and everything in the movie,
wearing the machines like gloves. The question then is not, is AI filmmaking real filmmaking,
but is tradfilm real filmmaking?
for the interview!
you for your support and for your support for indie filmmakers over the