Director David Karlak just launched a Kickstarter campaign to complete RISE, a short film about robot insurgency (from the robot's point of view). He has been developing the short science fiction film for Warner Brothers since early 2013 and is looking to raise money to complete the visual effects so he can release the short film to the public. In the film, he asks what happens when robots reach the full potential of artificial intelligence?
I interviewed Karlak after I saw the virtual reality version of RISE at the Tribeca Film Festival. We discussed the future of filmmaking and his creative process:
Boonsri Dickinson: Why do you like making films in VR? How does it compare to the other films you've done?
David Karlak: Making films in VR is something that feels completely new. It's a brand new paradigm with its own set of rules, techniques, and possibilities. Making a film within a virtual reality space forced me to see VR as an extension of reality.
Unlike traditional films that takes place within the confines of a rectangular frame, virtual reality is an immersive experience where the filmmaker has to be aware of everything, not just what's in front of the audience. In a way, building a VR experience is not too far removed from what putting on a stage play must be like.
The difference is that the action and content breaches the proscenium and envelopes the audience from all directions. What was interesting about RISE in particular is that VR experience emerged from a traditional 2d film. We took a scene from the 2d short and decided to recreate it in VR. Editorial, compositional, and sound cues had to be completely re-thought and adapted.
Boonsri Dickinson: You are the art director of Nurulize, a startup that focuses on VR content. So this probably means you think about the future of entertainment. How do you think VR will change the human experience?
David Karlak: I believe VR will bring bring the world closer together. The internet has been designed and built to bring people together, and VR is the next train stop. It will certainly change human interaction and human experiences as a whole. What that will actually look like is something we're working on now.
Boonsri Dickinson: How do you imagine your films? Do you sit in a dark room and let it come t you? Or do you let your mind wander? Is the physical environment of where you create important?
David Karlak: I love this question. My films come to me when I make the conscious effort to sit down and write. Many writers will wait for certain perfect conditions to arise before writing. Or wait for inspiration to hit them. I'm not like that. For me, I simply sit down and write, brainstorm, and refine ideas until I have something that I've vetted. Something that's empirically good and exciting. Creating is practicum. It's not the process of waiting, but the process of auditioning bad ideas as quickly as possible before arriving at a good one. And then the real work begins of taking that idea and constructing a narrative that works and excites.
Boonsri Dickinson: What makes a good story? Why do you like dark twists?
David Karlak: A good story is a story that's fun, engaging, and thought-provoking. But fun above all else. I suppose dark twists work into that in that they're fun and surprising.
Note: Karlak is known for his short film The Candidate: