Can AI write a film?

Sort of. Take a look at Solicitors, a short but sweet two-hander directed by Jacob Vaus and produced by Eli Weiss. Apart from the opening lines, all the dialogue was written by GPT-3, the open source software that can now generate short articles (or screenplays) with minimal human intervention. The result? A brief, but gripping story brought to life convincingly thanks to the film's high-quality direction, lighting and editing.



So, should Sophia Coppola and Aaron Sorkin be looking nervously over their shoulders? Not for now. For all its achievements, Solicitors is a powerful reminder of the limitations of artificial intelligence when it comes to writing – and other creative activities.


First of all, it’s short. Yes, I know that’s a statement of the obvious, but it matters. Give an artificial intelligence tool the opening bars of a rock classic, or the first two lines of a script and the software gives a convincing performance for a minute or two before going off at a wild creative tangent.


This is why a human in the loop is so important. If you’re filming a five-minute short you need talented directors, actors and lighting engineers to bring the lines to life. Longer scripts, plays or articles require additional intervention. An earlier version of GPT-3 has written a play, but only when a team of authors stitched together short scenes into something resembling a coherent story.


More recently, a team of journalists at The Guardian used GPT-3 to write an op-ed, but again it required several attempts to generate enough paragraphs from which to build the published article. Elsewhere in the arts, artificial intelligence can generate melodies and assist with orchestration, but it needs an experienced musician and technologist to complete and perform the song.


There are lessons here for business leaders too. In my opinion, too much stress is put on automation, where humans and software compete in a zero-sum game for a finite number of jobs. Instead we should place more emphasis on AI that enhances employee creativity. In addition, businesses which use existing employees to train artificial intelligence software are much more likely to see a return on their investment.


Returning to Solicitors, I was surprised by the cleverness of the script. It has a surreal edge that reminded me a little of David Lynch. Or maybe it’s the prologue to an indie-thriller directed by Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze? Either way, congratulations to the team that put the film together for producing something genuinely entertaining and haunting.

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