To immerse yourself in the director’s idea, you need to visit the movie “Robot Child” (2019), learn about the features of the filming and casting of the main actors, and more precisely, actresses. The film is unusual for perception, it is necessary to reflect on the ending. The viewer will fall into an enclosed space the size of a planet where there is nobody but insensitive cars and a suspicious stranger.
“I Am Mother” came out on the Netflix streaming service (premiered in Russia on June 20, 2019, “Volga”), but it’s better to watch such a movie on the big screen. Let's try to figure out why.
On behalf of the director: “the birth of a robot”
Grant Sputer, the director of new science fiction about human relationships and Artificial Intelligence, is confident that high technology has intertwined with our lives. For many, electronic devices are the last thing they see before falling asleep, and the first is opening their eyes in the morning:
“We live in an era when we trust the search engines more than any of our friends, and the children begin to use gadgets even before they learn to walk. Individual use is not limited. Technology has become the foundation for the development of a wide variety of industries. They manage financial institutions, our jobs, social services. They play an important role in the process of raising our children. ”
According to Spyutor, “Robot Child” was conceived as an attempt to study a person’s relationship with high technology, becoming ever closer. Technology makes life easier, and this trend should not change in the future. It is important only not to be in this future in a somnambulistic state.
“Looking into the future, where technology will outgrow us, how children outgrow parents, I wondered what it would be like to be brought up by a machine. I very clearly imagined a huge stainless steel robot holding a fragile baby’s body. I wanted to study the attitude of mankind and high technologies impartially, without depicting the image of bloodthirsty terminators who seek to eradicate the human race. I was more interested in the forces that inextricably bind machines and people. ”
The director wanted to force the audience to stop and think about how much they themselves are attached to high technology.
If you think about it, then the film “Child of the Robot” is based on the relationship of Mom and Daughter, which in many ways resembles the relationship of parent and child. A daughter loves Mother with all her heart, and the story, in essence, talks about growing up a teenager: a girl learns to stand on her feet confidently, forms a system of her own beliefs, decides what kind of person she wants to become when she is freed from parental care.
About the work on the film
Friends and colleagues Grant Sputer and Michael Lloyd Green worked on the script for the fantastic thriller “Child of Robot”, while they were located in different parts of the world, but this did not bother them at all: Sputor lives in Perth (Australia), and Lloyd Green lives in Los Angeles. In 2015, the creative duo began to work on the plot of the film, talking on Skype.
“Michael and I are like brothers in every sense of the word,” says Sputer. “We have a similar way of thinking, and we are very respectful of the opinion of another, but we are always ready to object if it seems that the opponent is wrong. We are ready to argue until we lose heartbeat, until eventually we find what we call a “third opinion.” This alternative is usually better than each of us individually. ”
The director said that for all the time they worked on the script, they never met face to face: Spyutor usually sat in the living room in front of the board with various notes, and heated debate with Michael took place late at night due to time differences between Perth and Los Angeles
“The work on the script for the film“ Child of the Robot ”began for us with news headlines - we searched for the most popular and current news,” recalls Spyutor. “We were most interested in discussing the latest technologies and the advent of artificial intelligence. These news quickly took shape in the key idea - would it be if technology would completely replace parental involvement in the fate of the child? What would be the decisions made by artificial intelligence? What would be the priority? What would be important for the robot? "
When the script was ready, colleagues sent it to readers. Several weeks were for the nervous ones - Grant and Michael were looking forward to the reaction. At first, the process was rather sluggish, but as soon as several people read the script, they told friends about it, those to their friends, and so on. The script began its journey through Hollywood.
Inside the set
Filming was sponsored by South Australian Film Corporation, the preparatory period officially began in May 2017 at Adelaide Studios. Production designer Hugh Betap (TV series "The Eighth Sense", CLOUD ATLAS, RISE OF JUPITER, MATRIX) began to set up the scenery for the high-tech underground bunker of Mother and Daughter.
“At the Adelaide studio we were allocated two pavilions in which we built all the necessary decorations,” says Spyutor. “In pavilion No. 1 (the largest studio pavilion, which has about 1000 m2) we built most of the bunker - Mother’s room, isolation room, laboratory and the entire network of corridors. We built the scenery of the airlock in Pavilion 2 ".
It may seem to the viewer that in the script the action takes place in a confined space, however, the creators wanted to make this world large and saturated, so they sought to fill with objects literally every inch of the working space of the pavilions. In the second pavilion, the exit to the real exit from the pavilion was even summed up in order to use the largest possible area. The film crew managed to build panoramic scenery, that is, the camera could shoot from any angle. Once on the site, anyone seemed to fall into a real location.
Lighting created an additional realism - the scenery was almost completely lit from the inside:
"We used traditional lighting fixtures very rarely," says Spyutor. "Usually, the site was lit with LEDs mounted in the scenery. In addition, the light sources were fixed on special panels, and we could change the lighting in the frame at the touch of a button."
Filming of Robot Child began at Adelaide in the first half of October and lasted seven weeks, after which the crew moved to New Zealand for three days for exterior shooting. The mesmerizing black sands of Karekare beach and the picturesque landscapes of the island of Karaka have become the main exterior locations.
Even before the hype caused by the script getting on the Black List, Sputter and Lloyd Green sent an “email of luck” to the world-famous special effects development company Weta Workshop, working on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, proposing to design and build Mother’s robot.
They create designs and make sketches of those images that are born in the imagination of scriptwriters and directors - from detailing costumes to creatures that inhabit the worlds. Be it the characters of Tolkien, Lewis and Herzhe, beloved by all, or the original characters of Pandora James Cameron.
“Michael and I simply dreamed,” Spyutor smiles. “It wasn’t even the final version of the script. We just sent a letter to the address indicated on the company’s website with the words:“ We love the films you make! Yes, and by the way, the key figure in our script is a robot, for which we would like to make a real costume. And we would be happy if you would undertake this work! "By some miracle, they read our letter and replied, it was a complete surprise for us. Such a loan of trust helped us to move on."
After Weta agreed to design a robot suit, Sputter switched to looking for a suitable actor who could handle a difficult role. He had to be thin enough to dress in a robot suit, but he was strong enough to move about freely. The actor had to have a good command of his body in order to convincingly copy mechanical movements.
“Although during the installation we replaced Mother’s voice, the facial expressions and gestures that accompanied the cues should clearly demonstrate the nuances of the character’s relations so that Clara and Hilary had something to react to. Therefore, the acting skills of a person who would try on a robot costume was no less important than everything else, ”says the director.
In the end, Luke Hawker, a Weta employee who led the costume design, turned out to be the best option. Luke was one of the most enthusiastic and devoted to work, he sat on a strict diet, trained a lot, literally exhausted himself with exercises, and all for the sake of an almost invisible, albeit very important role.
Ironically, many people will not even realize that Luke starred in the film, but it was thanks to him that the picture became so wonderful. "
Luke Hawker - Reincarnation as Mat
“- The role of Mother was very difficult in the physical plane. I understood that this role would be unlike all the others that I happened to play, because mythical creatures move very softly and are strong in one thing. Say they can have very strong legs or chests, ”says Luke.
However, the robot must have unlimited power. Mother is a very, very strong creature, so the actor had to work out all muscle groups. The hardest thing was to maintain the immobility characteristic of robots. In addition, do not forget about the weight of the suit - 41 kilograms. Luke weighed 64 kilograms, and when he began to prepare for the role, it was not much more.
In addition to physical strength, the Hawker had to think about how to breathe in such an unusual and inconceivably hot suit, so he came to the gym in sweatpants and a sweatshirt with a hood:
“Given the fact that the costume design I did, I initially knew the plot and the character that I had to play. I was afraid that I would only speak my cues and move in accordance with the scenario, but I could not convey the essence of the character. I probably regarded the robot as my brainchild, and could not imagine myself in the role. ”
Then preparations for the shooting began, Luke gradually memorized the cues and worked through various scenes. Every decision of the character of the Mother was important, and not just the movement (to which the actor initially paid increased attention). It was important what was going on in the robot’s head, so that Clara and Hilary had something to start from in different scenes.
“What can happen in the mind of perfect artificial intelligence? How does Mother understand what she feels, if at all, feels? How to get used to such a character? For me it was a real adventure. Fortunately, Grant was always ready to help me when the question seemed unsolvable to me. ”
... ABOUT EMOTIONAL ASPECTS OF MOTHER'S ROLE
Luke from the very beginning believed that the role would not be emotional. Efficiency and decisions made by her about how she works on the Daughter or the Woman to achieve the desired are much more important for the mother. However, as it turned out, he missed the most important thing - the very essence of the story, which is the relationship between the child and the parent:
“This is a particularly touching topic for me, since I myself recently became a father. This, of course, is a cliche, but our life changes dramatically when we become parents. The whole world is turning upside down, in the best sense of the word. I made many important discoveries for myself - the script itself, and the meeting with Clara, and working with children. Despite the fact that my hero is a robot with artificial intelligence, viewers will certainly ask themselves the questions “what drives it?” and "does she know how to love?" Does the robot make decisions based solely on efficiency? Or is she driven by true love? ”
The most important thing in history is the realization of the wonderful relationship Mother and Daughter have in common. The development of the plot struck the actor as a novice parent, to the core. Luke admits that he understood with what trust and innocence the children love their parents, regardless of whether they have a good family relationship or a bad one.
... ABOUT WORK WITH HILARI AND CLARA
“- Working with Hilary was scary - she is an amazing actress. She is incredibly professional, very experienced and well aware of how difficult it was for me to play my part. I really enjoyed working with her in partnership, especially considering the fact that our characters are in confrontation. When the command “Motor” sounded, a flame flared up in her eyes, and this helped me to tune in the right way. ”
Working with Clara, Hawker admits to occasionally forgetting how young she is. According to him, she knows how to defuse the situation and have fun from the heart. But when necessary, she is able to immediately get together and tune in to a dramatic or emotional scene.
He didn’t plan to look for an actress for the role of Daughter outside Australia until he saw a video test of the young Danish actress Clara Rugor: “The script was so popular that it caught the eye of Olivia Homean, British agent Clara. She read it and decided that the role of Daughter is perfect "To her client. Olivia invited Clara to record video samples and sent the recording to us. So, unexpectedly, we got samples that hit us all."
“We continued the search for the actress for the role of Daughter in Australia, but could not get rid of the impression that Clara’s samples left for this role,” the director continues. “In the end, we decided to meet her in person and record thematic samples. We immediately became the level of the actress is visible - the girl is smart, well-read and well understands all the nuances of the profession. In young talents this does not combine so often, but it was precisely such an actress that we needed. "
"In fact, even Tim, who is considered one of the most cold-blooded and indestructible producers, during the trials in Los Angeles, barely hid a mean male tear. Entering the image, Clara became disarmingly touching."
... ABOUT THAT ATTRACTED HER IN THIS ROLE
“- At first it seems that this is an impressive, but at the same time quite understandable story about the relationship of mother and child. The plot enriches and makes ethical subtext more complex. The film poses relevant questions to the viewer, because artificial intelligence is becoming an integral part of our society.
Add to this the unusual idea that a child can be raised by a robot, and you get a very interesting film. "Who in their right mind refuses to become part of a project that intrigues the viewer at such a level?"
... ABOUT ISOLATION IN WHICH DAUGHTER LIVES
“- In many scenes there was no dialogue at all, and we can say that these scenes awakened Daughter to life. She was taught from childhood to find the best solution in any difficult situation, so she is a thinker, constantly analyzes what is happening.“As an actress, I was very pleased to get the opportunity to grow up with my heroine in scenes not burdened with dialogue.”
... ABOUT WORK WITH MOTHER
“- The team at Weta designed a truly phenomenal costume for Mother. He does not look like a piece of lifeless metal, his face turned out to be very expressive. I must admit, like any actor, I was worried about such a partnership. I was afraid that it would be difficult to respond to a lifeless opponent. It turned out that there were no problems. ”
Luke is a phenomenal actor. He gave himself completely to the role, put on a 40-pound suit every day. He had to put up with limited mobility, poor visibility, and in general it was extremely uncomfortable to work.
The main difficulty was that he had to keep in mind many factors - his own safety, the development of the scene, the organicness of the filming process. Already at the first rehearsals, when I met Mother and we tried to walk through several scenes, it became clear that difficulties would arise even with such a simple but important aspect as the angle of view. Therefore, I bow to Luke in reverence for his endurance, acting and the help that he provided to me, and to all of us, on the set. ”
... ABOUT WORK WITH HILARI SWONK
“I was very pleased to work with Hilary.” It was even encouraging to observe her acting, how accurately she conveys all the nuances of the character of her heroine. The first few weeks I worked with a robot, so it was so great to talk to an ordinary person again, especially with such an expressive and experienced actress as Hilary. Thanks to her acting, I myself tried to work better and I am very grateful to her for this.
Hilary Swank Casting
The name Hilary Swank constantly popped up in the conversations that Spyutor and Lloyd Green had on Skype while writing the script. They dreamed that she played the role of a Woman. When Grant and Michael discussed some of the subtleties of the script late at night and dreamed about how great it would be if a star like Hilary played this role, they could not imagine that it was possible.
“But, when the script got to the Black List, there was such a fuss around it that the thought of sending Hilary’s script didn’t seem so crazy to us. We hoped that she might even like him. And it happened! ”- says the director.
During the first conversation with Hilary, Grant was very nervous, it was important to correctly present the film, tell about his vision of the story and convince the actress that the role was worth her attention. But, picking up the phone, he heard that Swank was delighted with the role and wanted to play it.
“Hilary threw me various ideas on how to make the film better.”
This began our fruitful cooperation. Hilary really had a lot of suggestions, and not only on how to improve her character, but the whole film as a whole. Grant took all these ideas into service, to subsequently pass them off as his own. This was Hilary’s work style - during the preparatory period, during the filming, and even during the editing, she did everything in her power to make the film better. In every way. This is not to mention the fact that she brilliantly played an amazing and complex role!
Starring Hilary Swank.
... ABOUT THAT ATTRACTED HER IN THIS ROLE
“- I read hundreds of scripts and I can say with confidence that it is very difficult to find something as original and even unique as the script“ Child of the Robot ”(2019).
The very idea of starring in a science fiction film is causing my keen interest, and this science fiction, as they say, is of the highest standard. The picture touches on important issues of family, trust, instincts. The plot has ideas on how to turn everything upside down, how to build new relationships and how to adapt for survival. Human themes. So the fantasy turned out to be quite realistic. ”
... ABOUT WORK WITH MOTHER
“- When you work with a partner on the set, it is always important to remember what kind of person is in front of you, what story connects you, whether it is a person, a robot, or anyone else. My heroine, in communication with the robot, of course, feels involuntary fear. And this is interesting, because in the case of the heroine Clara, this feeling was love.
The actor, who was in a robot suit, is incredibly talented and very well understands the specifics of our profession. In each cue, in each movement, something more is laid than can be seen and heard, and this is the greatest art of acting. Working with a robot has become an interesting and unexpected experience for me. Frankly, I was preparing to connect all my imagination. And then a very real creature became my partner. ”
... ABOUT WORK WITH CLARA RUGOR
“- Klara has been in the film industry not so long ago and may not be very experienced, and that is why she looks at the world with an open mind, one might say, through the eyes of a child. That was what this heroine was supposed to be. She accepts everything as she sees and gains experience during the development of the plot. I think this applies not only to the heroine, but also to the actress herself. Clara is a very kind and incredibly talented girl. She is aware of her potential, and this is wonderful. ”
... ABOUT HOW FOR THE FIRST TIME I turned up on the set
“- The scenery that Hugh created was fascinating. They were very realistic and unique. In general, the definition of "unique" is the highest praise I can come up with. Unique people, homes, places. And if something does not work, the reason is precisely the lack of uniqueness. This is noticeable to the naked eye.
When I was on the set, I felt myself in a real location. It really helped me get used to the role, because I practically didn’t have to get my imagination working. This greatly facilitates the work of the actor. "
Casting for “Mother's Voice”
In the draft version of the montage, Luke's voice was heard, the entire film crew was looking forward to the moment when Mother received a feminine voice filled with maternal energy. Sputter admits that he always imagined the heroine as such:
“We deliberately played in contrast - Mother has a lifeless, mechanical body, but a very touching human voice,” the director continues. “Therefore, all the maternal instincts and human qualities that Mother could have had to be transmitted through her voice, which by then we not even written down. "
Such a difficult task, Spyutor decided to offer his compatriot - Australian Rose Byrne:
“Rose has internal maternal energy, perhaps because she’s the Mother of two boys,” the director adds. “She has a very friendly, friendly voice. It’s easy to imagine that Siri will speak in this new version of Apple’s gadgets. a true professional and very technical in conveying the feelings of her character. She knows when you can let go of emotions and let Mother show feelings, and when you need to restrain herself so that the character remains mysterious and keeps the viewer in suspense. "
It took four days to record the replicas, which the actors spent in a recording studio in Los Angeles. When Byrne's voice was cast on the video, the entire crew noted that the film had gained new momentum. “Suddenly, Mother appeared in front of us,” Spyutor recalls. “It’s not clear how, but Rose and Luke created a bewitching, symbiotic image.”
Artificial Intelligence has captured movies - films about robots 2019.
The way to create the film “Child of the Robot” (2019) was a long and difficult one, casting of actors and filming is a responsible task, especially for the newcomer to the cinema of Grant Sputor. However, the director managed to translate on the screen something that can be easily compared with entertainment to “Terminator” or “From the car”.
Video: Creating a Robot for I Am Mother (Netflix): Weta Workshop