Kyle Bogart’s short film Sprites is a wonderful dialogue about human emotion. Imagine taking the film Zoe and condensing it into a short film (also, dial back the emotion factor to something more believable). That is what Sprite offers. It is the story, filmed in one room, of a director and producer (Leslie) who is frantically looking for the right actor for her film. In this futurist drama, actors and actresses have been almost exclusively replaced by 3D holographic AI projections called ‘sprites’ (no relation to lemon-lime Sprite by Coca-Cola). These sprites are much cheaper to use in film than any human performer.
The conflict focuses on Leslie’s conflict with co-director/producer on how to understand the Sprites. Leslie believes that Sprites are merely puppets doing what they are told or programmed to do. They can’t feel the overwhelming emotions that humans feel and therefore can never truly replace a human actor. Further, she argues that humans experience, react, feel, believe, love, hate, know, and wonder unlike any coded AI. This intrinsic emotional array is what makes humans so effective at acting; because they are truly capable of understanding the emotions their character is presenting.
Karen, on the other hand, argues that Sprites are a great replacement for human actors because, whether or not they empathize or sympathize, they save money. Karen simply insists that Leslie must consider using Sprites in the film before hiring a human actor. The film avoids a boring monologue about how advanced Sprite AI is, probably on purpose and to good effect.
After the confrontation, we are left siding with Leslie. She provides the more reasonable argument and we feel a connection to human emotions much more deeply than we feel a connection to profit margins. As the next Sprite is loaded up, we are siding with Leslie in thinking critically and narrow-minded about “Jim’s” ability to perform the piece adequately. As Jim’s performance progresses, however, Leslie, along with the audience, is left speechless at his ability to understand the piece deeply enough to perform it with emotional realism.
Jim not only begins to leave us feeling like Sprites are truly emotional but also that Sprites could be just as emotionally human as we are. In the end, Leslie picks Jim for the part and is left speechless about how wrong her assumptions about Sprites were.
Do I believe A.I. will be emotionally indistinguishable from human connection? No, personally I don’t. Nonetheless, I loved the short film. It was simple but very well-executed. If you’re looking for a short but thought-provoking film about AI to give your mind something to chew on over the weekend, I would highly recommend Sprites.
My Rating: 8.5/10
Here are some more of Adam Nieri’s reviews, brought to you by Mind Matters News Sci-Fi Saturday:
Would a simulated universe even make sense? A well-crafted short sci-fi film suggests, intentionally or otherwise, maybe not. I’ve seen quite a few sci-fi short films over the years and Simulation is certainly one of the better ones. However, beyond that, I’m not sure this film knows what it is; it’s an identity crisis.
Ad Astra: The Great Silence becomes personal. The film images the fate of those seek significance in the stars and may well wait indefinitely. In a world where the divine touch of extraterrestrial intelligence doesn’t elevate human existence to any level of significance, we are left with Ad Astra: a slow, methodical decay of human significance.
Another Life: All fun and games till an AI falls in love. Then it descends into a convoluted drift of uncertain storytelling. And the victim is not primarily the viewer, who has other options. The victim is the art itself.
Alita, Battle Angel: A Mind Matters Review: If you love anime and felt betrayed by the flop of Ghost, I would highly recommend Alita
A Mind Matters Review: Love, death, & robots Despite the trash and ruined expectations, several shorts were enjoyable and downright fun to watch