‘Sunspring,’ Artificial Intelligence And The Rise Of The Screenwriting Machine

In Terminator 2, Skynet went active on August 29, 1997. That day, an artificial intelligence unleashed a series of attacks all over the world. A chain of events goes into motion that sees the fall of mankind at the hands of the machines. It also starts an action-packed time-travel story with plenty of plot holes, but that’s an article for another time. It’s 2017, so Sarah Connor did something right since we’re not currently being spanked around by Skynet’s machines, though, automation is destroying plenty of jobs. However, screenwriting seemed to have good job security. That is, until, August 8th, 2016, when a writing Skynet of sorts was born, and its name is Benjamin.

In 2016, filmmaker Oscar Sharp paired with AI Researcher, Ross Goodwin, to create a film for the 48 Hour Film Project in London. After creating the Long Short-Term Memory or LSTM, Sharp, Goodwin, and a cast that includes Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) sat back, patiently waiting for the printer to come alive and deliver a script.

Benjamin, the AI screenwriter in an interview. I’m serious.

Once the script was ready, cast and crew took to making the film and interpreting directions like “He is standing in the stars and sitting on the floor” to the best of their abilities.


The result is a movie that is best described as a surreal and creepy student film. But perhaps the most frightening part, though, is that the pic isn’t completely terrible. Now, when I say that, let’s be clear where I set the bar. Benjamin is artificial intelligence in its infancy. It is, at best, equivalent to a two-year-old with a learning disability. Benjamin is only the tippy tip of the AI iceberg. But I found Sunspring engaging and entertaining, almost in the way as Tim and Eric, Adventure Time, or even Family Guy; a kind of absurdist comedy. Sunspring is like a skit from a show that doesn’t — and probably shouldn’t — exist.

Artificial intelligence is on the rise, so it begs the question,
how much time do screenwriters have left?



Ruben Diaz
Ruben Diaz
Writer, film-fanatic, geek, gamer, info junkie & consummate Devil's advocate who has been fascinated by Earth since 1976. Classically trained in the ways of the future.