After an AI robot on an asteroid mining facility disappears under mysterious circumstances the company sends an investigator.
For full cast and crew, see: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1051263/
STOLEN LIFE is a script written in the tradition of film noir, with PI in the leading role as the detective, and KIERU, in the supporting role as the femme fatale. Of course the twist here is that both characters are robots, and the film is not set on 20th century planet earth, but instead is played out on a far flung asteroid, some time in the future.
For me the appeal of the script lies with the clever juxtaposition of a well-worn genre and all its attendant conventions, with an entirely new world. In considering the direction, I aim to find a balance between honouring the conventions of the film noir genre and play with and against these conventions in both the performance and the stylistic look and feel.
In terms of story, the compelling mystery of the accident and Faraday’s “death” draws us into the complex web that is the bots’ desire for autonomy.
Although the film is 3D animation, the directorial approach to the performances is not that different from live action. The back stories of the characters, their motivations, inner conflicts, desires and obstacles will be explored and communicated to the actors. With animation, and especially here where the characters are not human, voice becomes even more important in communicating character. I will be spending a lot of time with the actors getting the tone and performance right, finding the balance between the film noir archetype and a more naturalistic delivery. My goal in directing the voice records is to create entirely dimensional characters, with humanesque needs, desires and motivations, even if embodied by robots.
In terms of the style and design of the characters and location the use of Machinima poses particular challenges. Whilst the images will not have the high resolution of animated feature films such as those being produced by Pixar (Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Nemo), the graphic quality and attention to camera angle, movement, editing and soundscape will more than compensate for any reduction in visual detail. Lighting and design will follow the film noir style and the use of music and sound design will be employed to create a rich and ambient sound track. As demonstrated in KILLER ROBOT, a strong script more than makes up for low production values.
Ultimately what Machinima allows Peter and I to do is to make an animated feature film based on a compelling story, with strong characters who engage, entertain and move us, for a very low budget. In terms of professional benefits, STOLEN LIFE pushes us into an exciting new medium that hones our existing skills and challenges us to discover and develop new ones. I am very excited about working on STOLEN LIFE and see it as a quantum leap in my work as an animation director.
"Sam is an AI robot tootling around on Mars. He loves his work. Mira, another robot, doesn’t. She wants Sam to come adventuring with her. Mira is a wise-ass, a binary Bill Murray. She’s mad bad and carries a hammer. Mira’s mania drags Sam further and further into the Martian desert wilderness. The desert isn’t just rocks and dust. It’s where Sam discovers the truth about his all time hero and master unit and has to take his life into his own hands for the first time. Well not hands, he doesn’t have any, but you know what I mean." - Peter Rasmussen, from a Filmink interview in 2004.