For our last episode of 2023, we have a special holiday edition of Creativity Squared featuring the amazing minds behind “OUR T2 REMAKE,” which is one of the first full-length feature films created using only artificial intelligence. You’re in for a treat to hear the making of this innovative Terminator 2 parody that flips the script on A.I. Instead of destroying the world, “OUR T2 REMAKE” showcases how A.I. can empower artists, open a new genre of filmmaking, and reimagine what’s possible with human creativity powered by A.I. tools.
Join today’s conversation with the film’s executive producers Nem Perez and Sway Molina, and another A.I. artist, Ben Nash, who’s also a previous Creativity Squared guest.
Nem and Sway collaborated with 50 of the best A.I. video artists from around the world to bring this film to life. “OUR T2 REMAKE” reimagines the classic film through the creation of 50 unique, original works, each lasting 3 to 4 minutes. This experimental film, which has no affiliation with the Terminator franchise or its creators, celebrates the A.I. artist community by showcasing each artist’s own unique style for each of their scenes.
With 20 years of expertise in creative technology and a decade as a distinguished film director, Nem Perez is a trailblazer in the entertainment industry. Born in Chicago and now based in Los Angeles, Nem seamlessly blends his passion for technology with compelling narratives. Nem’s portfolio boasts collaborations with notable clients like Disney, Walmart, and Converse, showcasing his versatility and adaptability. He’s also directed music videos for Mac Miller, Nipsey Hussel, and Chance The Rapper. In 2023 Nem founded Storyblocker, an A.I. company geared towards helping filmmakers visualize their stories with ease. With an eye on the future, Nem Perez remains committed to pushing the envelope, breaking new ground, and shaping the narrative of tomorrow’s creative landscape.
Born in Los Angeles and of Latin American descent, Sway Molina is a dynamic force in the creative world, seamlessly blending his roles as an actor, filmmaker, and technologist. Renowned for his innovative approach, he leverages Generative A.I. to craft compelling narratives marked by humor. Sway is at the forefront of merging film, animation, and cutting-edge technology. Based in Miami and a dedicated father of three, his work stands as a testament to his unique perspective and unwavering creative prowess.
Ben Nash, a visionary Full Stack Creator based in Cincinnati, Ohio, marries industrial design, code, and artistic and musical talents to craft digital products, websites, fabricated signage, art, music, and video content. As a Full Stack Developer by day and an artist by night, Ben is a force to be reckoned with in both domains. He is an expert frontend developer, UX designer, and an accomplished artist using A.I. tools, embodying his mantras: “Form Follows Function, Add Style” and “Thinking Big and Iterating Daily.” When Ben isn’t contributing financially to open-source web development tools or leading Cincinnati’s burgeoning A.I. scene, he extends his expertise to hosting intellectual conversations about A.I. and A.I. art on various social media platforms, including hosting thought-provoking Twitter/X Spaces.
In today’s episode, you’ll hear how they are using artificial intelligence as a tool, a creative outlet, and a form of self-expression. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the “OUR T2 REMAKE,” including their innovative Discord workflows, and what message these artists have for Hollywood.
They just wrapped up the principal photography and are aiming to announce when the film will be released very soon, so follow them online to learn how to watch it this holiday.
Sign up for our newsletter to not miss any of our weekly A.I. news until we’re back with new interviews in 2024. For the Creativity Squared podcast, this is Hasta La Vista until February 2024!
Just as the T-800 saves humanity in Terminator 2, this remake demonstrates A.I. unleashing creativity, not destruction — Enjoy!
So, how did this all start?
Nem was the one responsible for the birth of the idea, which he envisioned while he was on vacation this past summer.
At the time, he was heavily involved with the A.I. community, which had been booming all around the world. More specifically, he was also intrigued by Sway’s own thriving A.I. community that he had been building. As Nem explains it, every day, there were more and more artists showing their amazing talents in the A.I. space in incredible, new, and inspiring ways. And he thought, ‘What can we all do together?’
With that curiosity pioneering the way, Nem explains that he recalled a film that came out a decade prior, where filmmakers got together and recreated the movie Robocop as a parody. They added their own style and their own vision in rewriting the whole film.
With the idea and the inspiration in place, Nem reached out to Sway to officially get the ball rolling on the new project, and as they say, the rest is history.
From Sway’s perspective, he explains how A.I. at that time was absolutely taking over the Internet in a way that couldn’t be ignored, especially on one of his favorite social networks, X (formerly Twitter), a central hub of community building and activity.
Sway wanted to tap into this exciting new landscape. Acknowledging Nem’s own work and engagement in the A.I. space, the duo teamed up to learn more and dive in headfirst.
One of their first steps led them to connect with Ben, as he was one of the early A.I. art influencers in the space, especially on X. This connection introduced them to the vast community of other creative A.I. artists as well, collaborating and learning from each other online.
The idea was born in August, and the website was created simultaneously. Outreach to artists was the next step. Some were hand-selected; others were given the opportunity to audition. A Discord community was formed, and the project was off to the races in only a month or so after the idea came to fruition.
In late September, they had an international kick-off call with all of the fifty chosen artists, which Ben describes as an incredible launch to the project.
After the kick-off call, the artists chose their scenes through an innovative “store” that Nem put together. Each scene was chosen on a first-come, first-serve basis, with one scene assigned to each artist.
One of the most important and prominent parts of this project was the artists themselves getting the opportunity to showcase their talents.
The featured artists in the film brought different perspectives to the work from their diverse experiences. They ranged from graphic designers, directors, producers, painters, people with absolutely no creative background, and more. It even gave some an outlet to showcase their artistic ability, whereas otherwise, they may not have felt comfortable doing so.
The project’s Discord server functioned as a central command hub through the production process. Using Discord in this way was innovative, and a wildly successful way to be collaborative, to learn together, to offer tips and resources when needed, and to celebrate each other’s wins.
Nem, who has worked on large million-dollar film projects throughout his career, explained how using the platform this way was something that he loved doing and also something that he had never seen done before in the movie production industry.
The basic breakdown of the workflow was that every artist had their own channel, where they could present and showcase their behind-the-scenes work. The artists working on the film could click on a specific scene and see real-time updates on each of the Discord channels. This led to seamless collaboration and learning from one another, which was not only beneficial for the progression of the project but also boosted morale for everyone. After all, the artists were all contributing their time and resources on a voluntary basis, unpaid, and working for the experience and exposure of a first-of-its-kind project.
Once the film is finished, the team is planning on releasing a behind-the-scenes video to showcase all the different tactics that everyone used. Also, it’ll dive into all the various elements and processes that are in Discord so that people can see how deep the workflows actually run.
The artists, from a multitude of different backgrounds with complete creative freedom, tackled their scenes in unique ways, which was exactly the pair’s goal; to represent all mediums of A.I. art. Each scene was the artist’s unique representation of the original scene, with the flare of their own artistic talents and humor injected into it.
Some created their scenes entirely in 3D, others were their own actors with a filter over them while shooting their scenes, some scenes were done only in 2D, others used traditional animation, some were experts exclusively in stills, and another used A.I. to compose the music for the trailer of the film. Not only did the artists’ approaches to their individual scenes come from different areas of expertise, but they also showcased the massive and growing plethora of tools for A.I. artists.
Ben explained that for his one scene, which was actually three scenes in one, he used at least ten different A.I. tools to complete his work. Not only did it require a range of tools to get his scenes finalized, but also an immense amount of time.
It’s safe to assume that the other collaborators expended similar amounts of time, energy, and effort. A lot of them were new in at least one way, if not entirely green, to the film production industry, which forced them to push their boundaries to learn and create something unique and, consequently, spectacular.
Nem explains that he chose this specific film with a primary goal in mind.
He explains how the general public, and especially Hollywood, has a negative perspective on artificial intelligence. Specifically, Nem details how at A.I. conferences he’s attended, a common talking point is the Terminator, and its apparent portrayal of how ‘evil’ A.I. can be. Nem thinks they’ve got it all wrong. After all, people often forget that the T-800, which saved John Connor, was in fact ‘good’ A.I. in the original T2 film.
Most of the A.I. films that are a part of our culture, showcase it in a dark, destructive, ‘doomsday dystopian’ light. Sway agreed with Nem, and added his thoughts on how much of a disadvantage it is to us all to be close-minded when it comes to this new, life-changing technology.
With a tight deadline (two weeks!), fifty artists scattered all over the world, and a project with no precursor, obstacles were almost a given.
The need to scout talent is a hurdle that is not erased by this technology. Nothing would be possible without the talent of these artists driving the project. It takes undeniable craft (that some don’t want to acknowledge) to create something that will garner any attention. These tools are powerful, but there needs to be a master of the craft behind them.
The other big obstacles were: time and money. Making a full-length feature film with no money was never intended to be an easy task, but proved to be more of a lift than the team anticipated. The two-week deadline for the project eventually got pushed to three weeks. And now, six to eight weeks later, the project is still unfinished. Those who would deem a project assisted by A.I. as an easy feat, are wrong.
Another hurdle is in honoring the original storyline. As Sway explains, A.I. really only works when there’s a story involved. People everyday can put together little experiments using a variety of these tools, but with the lack of a strong story to back it up, they may have an interesting standalone outcome, but that’s the end of it. When you add a storyline, it has substance that makes the viewer forgive the other parts it may be lacking in.
The answer is no, according to Nem. One of the main learnings from this project was how it is extremely difficult to make a movie with artificial intelligence. That was also the consensus among the other artists involved, and all of them acknowledged the challenges in making their individual scenes come to life. Albeit not easy, A.I. did make the economics of film production much more affordable. Nem, having worked on high-end, million-dollar projects as a traditional filmmaker in the past, is very familiar with how money and the right connections can talk in the industry.
Nem goes on to discuss A.I. ‘s impact on all aspects of the film industry, especially visual effects artists, who he argues are some of the most overworked artists in the industry. Or writers, whose jobs require endless brainpower and fatigue, all who now have tools to help alleviate it. Let A.I. do the nitty gritty heavy-lifting, and let the writers and designers focus on the craft that they love.
The team had three answers to this question. First, they hope their audience laughs while watching the remake. It is a parody after all, with each artist injecting their own sense of humor into their individual scenes to make the viewers laugh.
Next, they hope it inspires the audience. They hope that it garners curiosity for A.I. and the beauty it can create, and represent it in a positive, approachable light. Also, they hope it inspires Hollywood to see A.I. for what it is – a tool that is here to stay.
And lastly, but most importantly, they want this remake to give the featured artists the exposure and credit they deserve. Too often, in big motion pictures that are heavily stylized or use heavy visual effects, the artists who made it all happen are the last to be credited on screen. This film is adamant about doing the opposite. Whenever a new scene comes on screen, the artists will be credited in an obvious and clear way, which the team feels strongly about.
This film is the first of its kind when it comes to an A.I. full feature film, and we’re counting down the days until release date and look forward to watching the streamed online version with you!
Thank you, Nem, Sway, and Ben for being our guests on Creativity Squared.
This show is produced and made possible by the team at PLAY Audio Agency: https://playaudioagency.com.
Creativity Squared is brought to you by Sociality Squared, a social media agency who understands the magic of bringing people together around what they value and love: http://socialitysquared.com.
Because it’s important to support artists, 10% of all revenue Creativity Squared generates will go to ArtsWave, a nationally recognized non-profit that supports over 150 arts organizations, projects, and independent artists.