Unveiling Hollywood’s AI fascination

4 Mins read

The big question is: did Hollywood execs learn from last year’s strikes?

The entertainment industry fears generative AI as a threat to human performers, artists, and writers. Concerns have been raised due to Hollywood’s interest in AI, seen through AI-generated movie posters and the manipulation of Jennifer Pan’s story.

The recent SAG AFTRA and WGA strike has further intensified worries about the potential misuse of AI technology, including the creation of deepfake nude images, voices and false texts.

Netflix and other industry giants are using AI to improve customer experiences, but labour unions worry about job losses. Experts debate whether AI can match human creativity in entertainment.

Two recent examples of AI misuse in recent streaming and theatre projects appear to show that Hollywood hasn’t learnt anything from the SAG/WGA strikes yet.

The AI misuse in Netflix What Jennifer Did true crime documentary

One of the most terrifying applications of AI was showcased in the Netflix documentary What Jennifer Did. It explores the true story of Jennifer Pan, who planned the murder of her parents.

Her mother was tragically killed, but her father survived. Pan was arrested and found guilty of first-degree murder and attempted murder.

The news site Futurism reported that AI technology was used to create a false portrayal of Jennifer Pan. They depicted her as a partygoer with a large social circle, which was far from the truth. Jennifer’s true personality and social life were drastically different from what the producers portrayed.

Jennifer reached the age of 22 without ever experiencing parties, alcohol, or going on vacation alone because her parents set high expectations for her and her brother Felix.

Pressured to excel in academics and extracurricular activities to boost her resume for university admissions, Jennifer was restricted from attending high school dances, events, and having a boyfriend.

The show makers deceived us by portraying Jennifer as a popular, outgoing girl when she was actually the opposite.

In the documentary, there are two distorted and modified photographs of Jennifer Pan seen while one of her friends, Nam Nguyen, was describing her as a “confident and bubbly person,” suggesting the use of AI technology to manipulate the images.

A cupboard in the background appears distorted, and Jennifer Pan's dress, fingers, and hands are looking disturbingly altered, almost like her fingers are mushed. [Netflix]
Frames from What Jennifer Did reveal altered details of the dress and hands [Netflix]
Jennifer Pan's teeth are shown slightly misaligned  and her dress sleeves are not on her shoulders.[Netflix]
Another frame shows Jennifer Pan’s teeth are shown slightly misaligned [Netflix]

The misuse of AI in the Jennifer Pan case documentary raises concerns about its credibility. Manipulating photos in a factual documentary questions the authenticity of the content and the filmmakers’ intentions.

The lack of acknowledgment of AI usage in the credits adds to the worry about transparency in documentaries. In response to the AI controversy, Jeremy Grimaldi, the executive producer of the documentary, clarified that the images used were real photos of Jennifer Pan, but they were edited using tools like Photoshop to safeguard the identity of the image source.

Photographer Joe Foley suggested that “AI-powered upscaling or photo restoration software could have been used by the filmmakers of What Jennifer Did to enhance low-resolution images, potentially leading to unexpected outcomes.”

Documentaries are expected to uphold a higher level of accuracy and authenticity, as they aim to portray real-life events and present the truth. Unlike fictional works, documentaries strive to capture reality.

The use of AI in filmmaking, particularly in this true crime documentary, raises concerns about its potential for widespread manipulation and lack of transparency. This misuse could lead to the creation of false narratives about real-life events.

AI-Generated Posters by A24: Civil War

Kirsten Dunst as Lee Smith in Civil War [A24]
Kirsten Dunst as Lee Smith in Civil War [A24]

A24 is an independent production company which recently unveiled promotional posters for the movie Civil War, that were created using artificial intelligence technology instead of being designed by human graphic artists.

The six posters showcase iconic American scenes ravaged by the chaos of war.

Civil War AI Posters which shows the damages in American Cities. [A24/Instagram]
Promotional posters for Civil War [A24]

The aftermath of Las Vegas can be seen as The Sphere smoulders amidst the rubble. Camouflaged tactical trucks encircle Washington Square Park in New York City. Neon pink illuminates the wreckage of a Miami street. One of Chicago’s Brutalist Marina City Towers is depicted engulfed in flames.

Interestingly, none of these scenes actually appear in the film itself, despite its $50 million (£39.3 m) budget. The AI-generated posters have faced backlash on social media due to their inaccuracies and inconsistencies.

People have pointed out issues like misaligned streets and pathways, a car with three doors, and the depiction of the Chicago Marina City Towers as separated by a river when in reality they are side-by-side. Some users have accused A24 of misleading potential viewers by presenting visual effects that do not accurately represent the film.

Defending the AI use, a source close to the production house said to The Hollywood Reporter, “the entire movie is a big ‘what if’ and so we wanted to continue that thought on social — powerful imagery of iconic landmarks with that dystopian realism.”

However, some feel it is disheartening to see A24, an indie production house known for its authentic creativity, stoop so low, saying it went against the company’s reputation for valuing artistry.

As a result, discussions have arisen regarding the ownership and intellectual property rights. One user commented A24’s Instagram post about the AI Posters, “none of this happens in the movie, I don’t understand this campaign. You are selling a movie that doesn’t exist and it’s very bizarre.”

Another argued: “as an artist, it’s infuriating to see a studio (that I thought valued artistic integrity) utilise a tool that STEALS from artists to promote their film. I am appalled and genuinely terrified for the future of cinema—and art, in general. Where do we draw the line?” As Hayao Miyazaki said: I strongly feel that this (AI) is an insult to life itself.

With the entertainment industry increasingly embracing AI and becoming heavily reliant on its usage, it is of utmost importance to approach its adoption and utilization responsibly and ethically.

Ethical principles for AI encompass transparency, accountability, accuracy, privacy, fairness, safety, and human-centeredness. To foster ethical practices in AI, organizations can provide regular employee training, establish clear guidelines and policies, engage in industry dialogues, and embrace self-regulation in the absence of legislation, while ensuring that AI does not encroach upon jobs.

Artefact has reached out to Netflix for comment, but so far they have not responded.

Featured image by Jon Tyson via Unsplash.

Related posts

The journey to MaXXXine: Revisiting Ti West's X and Pearl

9 Mins read
In the ever-evolving realm of contemporary film, few endeavours have masterfully intertwined the intricacies of aspiration, sexuality, individuality, notoriety, generation gaps, and emotional distress within the immersive fabric of terror quite like this.

Revolutionising 3eib: From shame to strength in Arab culture

4 Mins read
Amid cultural evolution, Arab millennials and Gen Z are flipping the script on ‘3eib’ through art, fashion, and collective action.

How can you make creative friends in London?

2 Mins read
Building a community is made easier with a middleman and a great location at the heart of Brick Lane. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *