Sprites

By Kyle Bogart | Sci-Fi
Human actors are obsolete. Now there are A.I. holographic projections.

In a world set in the near future, actors have been replaced by “sprites,” A.I. holographic projections beamed into a location. But one director, Leslie, doesn’t want to go that route, convinced that a human actor could only deliver the rich, compelling performance she needs for her film.

But Karen, her producer, and the movie studio they’re working with want her to audition a few sprites, in order to keep production costs low. Leslie reluctantly tries out a few sprites at the audition –where they act out a scene from “Star Trek: Wrath of Khan” — and eventually encounters the holographic projection Jim.

Skeptical and determined to get her human actor, Leslie is hard on Jim. But Jim surprises her with unexpected glimmers of humanity and understanding, challenging her perceptions of the limitations of artificial intelligence.

Writer-director Kyle Bogart’s short sci-fi dramedy is unique for the genre in that it puts its focus on character and performance. There is less VFX razzle-dazzle here, and a simplicity in both its visuals and execution. But in the place of spectacle is both gently playful comedy and a surprisingly heartfelt interrogation of the potential, unexpected humanity that could be found in artificial intelligence.

While most films with a sci-fi bent are visual showpieces, here the emphasis is on the feelings and interactions. The film takes place in one location, and though the camera work is sensitive and thoughtful, its focus is on capturing the ebbs and flows of thoughts and feelings of the main characters, particularly the flinty, contentious director and the sprites auditioning for her.

The guiding lights of the narrative are the excellent writing and performances, which are never exaggerated, taking place in a register of human expression that feels realistic and rooted in the actual emotional situations. Actors Liz Beckham and Lee Eddy play the director and producer whose barbed back-and-forth over the film’s production form much of the comedic edge of the film, while actor Kriston Woodreaux nails both the amiable bundle of expressions and mannerisms of a programmed fascimile of human personality, while giving a glimpse of the sprite’s learning, thinking and longings.

It is this questioning and longing that comes to intrigue Lesley, especially as Jim unexpectedly reveals a disarming vulnerability and awareness of his own self and consciousness. Every emotional beat of this part of the scene unfolds with an almost breathtaking delicacy and care, knocking out both viewers and Leslie with an openness that is deeply and surprisingly moving.

As Jim takes this emotional discovery and puts it into his monologue, the careful, measured build-up at the beginning of “Sprites” pays off with a rich, emotionally satisfying ending that challenges Leslie’s perception of artificial intelligence, entertains genuinely deep questions about the possibilities of artificial intelligence — and explores a notion of humanity rooted not just in the body, but in the potential for self-awareness and growth.




You Might Also Like:

Sylvia

By Richard Prendergast | Drama
A single mother takes her family on a road trip. But it's to an unwanted destination.

Second Best

By Alyssa McClelland | Comedy
Twin sisters turn into rivals when one's gymnastics career steals the spotlight.

No More Wings

By Abraham Adeyemi | Drama
2 friends meet at their favorite fried chicken shop. But their lives have diverged.

Avarya

By Gokalp Gonen | Animation
A man is trapped on a spaceship after his robot overseer finds every planet uninhabitable.

Feeling Through (Oscars)

By Doug Roland | Drama
A homeless teen meets a deaf-blind man who changes his life forever...

Ernie

By Hadley Hillel | Drama
A man's suicide attempt rips a hole in the ceiling. Then he befriends the boy upstairs.

Dig Your Own Grave

By Kirk Larsen | Comedy
A man is forced to dig his own grave in the desert. But the ground is hard.

Call Connect

By Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell | Drama
A young helpline operator takes her first call and gets more than she expected.

More Than God

By Kev Cahill | Comedy
A devoted husband suspects his wife is cheating on him. Then he hides under the bed.

Welcome to Iron Knob

By Dave Wade | Comedy
A young boy accidentally shoots a stranger and the town tries to cover it up.

CODA

By Erika Davis-Marsh | Romance
A young dancer falls for a deaf guy, then tries to find her place in the world.

Toni With an I

By Marco Alessi | Drama
An awkward girl doesn't fit in at school. Then the Internet comes to save her.

The Things You Think I’m Thinking

By Sherren Lee | Drama
A burn-survivor goes on his first date after his accident.

Into the Silent Sea

By Andrej Landin | Sci-Fi
A Soviet cosmonaut who is stranded in space discovers a voice in the distance.

Infinite ft. George MacKay

By Connor O’Hara | Drama
A terminally-ill man has a plan to 'live on' and gets his friends to help.



Your favorite short films you haven't seen yet.

Inspiring and insightful. Entertaining and enlightening.
That's what you can expect here: no fluff. Just a steady
stream of the best films delivered to your inbox.