We can’t escape AI movies. And that’s OK

Movie and advertising director Carl Erik Rinsch reflects on how AI might change movie-making, and envisions intriguing new avenues for the art form

In a reflective moment on social media, I recently composed a letter to my future self, delving into the current state of society and speculating where we might be in five years. The post, which touched on the latest advancements in artificial intelligence –particularly its role in film production – evoked a strong reaction from a close friend who found it “too unnerving”. It was taken down for that reason, but I post it here:

Dear Future Self,

I know this now to be true. Five years from today, I will direct an entire two-hour film in one weekend, and alone in a room. To be able to be released by the highest standards of exhibition and distribution. No physical production required.

I know this and speak of it as an ‘expert opinion’. As of this instant, I have directed half a billion dollars in production and shot all over the world on every continent except Greenland and Antarctica. I have created full photoreal CGI. I have written, directed, and produced. I have shut down the largest cities on earth/in history. I’m no joke.

Except I am. In relation to the world we have created, and the art/entertainment that we will generate with advanced technologies, everything to date has been knocking rocks together and cave painting.

I say all of this only to qualify what I need to accept. I am my own best-case example of ‘about to be seriously humbled’.

This tech is too strong to comprehend, but I am able to comprehend it past what I would like to. These tools know me in ways a brush or pencil never could. They understand my behaviour and tendency and are evocative and expressive of my thoughts almost before I have them. I will be able to ask AI programs to ‘imagine my favourite film directed by me. Now, be self-delusional and make me better than my masters.’ And it will.

There will be, of course, talk of employment. And bottoms dropping out. But there will be something else. I know it.

What are we to do? I’m not sure. I’ll make a thousand movies before I turn 60.

Carl Erik Rinsch

We are standing at the precipice of an existential shift akin to the invention of fire. In the next five-ten years, AI will reshape our lives and the world in unimaginable ways.