Elizabeth Banks On Dangers Of AI Amid Writers Strike: “We Have To Hold The Line As A Community” – CannesMay 16, 2023
EXCLUSIVE: Cocaine Bear filmmaker Elizabeth Banks has urged industry professionals to “hold the line” and support striking writers, particularly around issues such as the use of AI as her thriller Dreamquil, which explores the dangers of artificial intelligence, launches at the Cannes Market.
Speaking with Deadline shortly before the market kicked into gear, Banks said she was “heartbroken” that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the body representing the studios, was unable to “agree that AI should not be used for creative purposes.”
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“As an artist in Hollywood, we export and create culture. And I think we’ve made incredible strides in breaking down the gatekeeping of our industry and presenting underrepresented voices and new ideas. We’ve made so much progress,” Banks said.
“The idea that we would essentially use AI to create that culture based on all the biases of the cultures that have come before — because that’s what the AI will learn from — I find that terrifying.”
Dreamquil will be directed by American filmmaker and contemporary artist Alex Prager, who also co-wrote the screenplay alongside her sister during the Covid pandemic. Banks, whose on-screen credits include The Hunger Games and Pitch Perfect film franchises, added that film professionals bear a “great responsibility” in shaping the lives of their audiences and the idea of handing that responsibility over to computer machines “broke my heart.”
“We have to hold the line as a community,” she said. “I include the producers and the studios in that community. AI is going to be a tool. There’s no doubt about it. It’s coming fast and furious. But I would like it to be a tool used by the writers and not the studios to replace the writers. And once that horse is out the barn, I don’t know why anybody believes their job isn’t next.”
Banks leads Dreamquil alongside Oscar nominee John C. Reilly (Chicago). HanWay Films is launching the thriller at Cannes, with UTA Independent Film Group and CAA Media Finance co-repping the film in North America.
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Set in the not-so-distant future, the movie — which comes amid heightened industry attention on the role of AI — is being positioned as a cautionary tale about what happens when artificial intelligence and automation are integrated into our daily lives.
Production is being lined up for Q3 2023. Oscar nominee Vincent Landay (Her) will produce alongside Banks, Max Handelman and Alison Small for Brownstone Productions (Pitch Perfect). The film will also mark Prager’s feature debut.
Prager, who was nominated for the SXSW Grand Jury Prize in 2023 for her short film Run, described Dreamquil as a “playful suspense thriller” with a “dash of horror.”
“It’s got a little bit of Eternal Sunshine in it,” she said in reference to the 2004 Michel Gondry pic, starring Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey. “It’s about this very grounded relationship where these characters that are truly in love struggle because of the modern world they live in.”
The artist-filmmaker added that she is keen to try her hand at feature filmmaking and reach a new viewership with her work.
“Really only a certain amount or type of person is ever able to engage in the art world, so it’s really exciting to be opening my work up to the movie world,” Prager said. “The audience is so much larger and more diverse.”
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