1 August 2022

Our 2021 'Short' Short Film Competition Winner

By Michaela Moir

A female android in therapy battles her demons. Robot X.Y.A. is made in our image, yet it is not acceptable for her to act like us. Built to serve, she must accept whatever comes her way, working like a machine in an office, completing dull computational tasks. Yet… she is programmed to think like us but must suppress her emotions. She has to go to therapy in their ‘downtime’, a short lunch break session while the androids reboot. This is where we enter.

Idea for the film:

Together with Mehzeb the writer, who has a PhD in Robotics, I was keen to create a future reality where androids exist, but not all is what it seems. In the 100th year since the word ‘Robot’ was coined, we envisage a world in which androids exist in everyday life and are built in our image. I am fascinated by the use of technology to help our lives, removing dull and time-consuming tasks. Yet I am concerned we might build them in our image, and make them think like us, but not give them space to express themselves. That we would treat them as inferior, and that, with their increased intelligence, they could easily take revenge. With my background working in documentaries, I am reminded daily of ‘deep fake’ and the use of digital ability to create a false reality. In a sense this film is the reverse of a ‘deep-fake’, as humans we perceive them as machines, yet they are programmed to be human, and feel more than we know. As a female, I was also keen to work on a story that expressed the daily trials of being a woman and what we have to deal with on a daily basis, whether android or not. To look perfect, put on a smiling face, having to outperform male counterparts, just to be noticed or taken seriously, and put up with verbal and physical abuse, not matter how ‘harmless’. Everything always builds up, and I hope it comes across as a warning lesson to think about how we treat others, whether the opposite sex, a different race, or even an android.

How long did it take to film? Was it plain sailing?

The biggest difficulty in making the film during Covid times was getting access to an office space to film, when everyone was working from home. I thought it would be easy as the offices were empty, but sadly not! Luckily last minute my friend got us access to WeWork where she works, which was the perfect location for filming, and we had the entire 6 storey building to ourselves on the Saturday, with some of her work friends being our office ‘workers’. We filmed all in one working day and the edit was relatively quick, the hardest part was getting graphics made that worked in our timeframe. But luckily, we had a talented team who turned all around very quickly.

What’s Next?

Currently working full time in TV documentaries but really enjoyed making drama shorts and hope to do more next spring / summer.