The forthcoming feature film — financed by the same people behind "Loving Vincent" and "To the Bone" — is the first to turn on the performance of an AI actor, according to an exclusive report from The Hollywood Reporter.
And her name is Erica.
AI actor 'Erica' takes lead role in $70 million film
The financing company — Bondit Capital Media — will partner with Belgium-based Happy Moon Productions and New York's Ten Ten Global Media. Together they've committed to back "b," a $70 million sci-fi film producers said will be the first to turn on the work of an AI actor.
With a story from visual effects supervisor Eric Pham, Tarek Zohdy, and Sam Khoze — the latter of whom also produce Life Entertainment, "b" is about a scientist who uncovers dangers associated with a program of his making, initially intended to perfect human DNA. The scientist later helps the AI woman he designed (Erica) escape.
Japanese scientists Kohei Ogawa and Hiroshi Ishiguro — the ones who created the real-life Erica as part of a study on robotics — also taught her how to act, applying the principles of method acting to AI, Khoze said to The Hollywood Reporter (THR).
"In other methods of acting, actors involve their own life experiences in the role," said Khoze to THR. "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."
Erica was initially set for a debut in a separate project with director Tony Kaye (of "American History X"), but producers parted ways with Kaye over scheduling issues. The new director of "b" and the human co-star fro Erica aren't yet attached, but some of Erica's scenes were already filmed in Japan in 2019. Producers say the rest of the film will be shot in Europe, in June of 2021.