Interview with Filmmaker John D. Marshall (ARTIFICIAL EXISTENCE)

ARTIFICIAL EXISTENCE was the winner of Best Performances at the December 2021 FANTASY/SCI-FI Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

With the convergence of emerging technology such as AI, IoT, and Neurolink, I feel that we are approaching a very dangerous crossroad for our civilization. The risks associated with these technologies not just on their own, but combined could have horrifying consequences that we must be proactive and aware of. Artificial Existence is an
attempt to reveal some of these potential horrifying outcomes through a cinematic journey.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

Over three years.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

AI Prison

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Trying to make a cinematic dystopia that’s convincing and features a very high number of locations for a short film on a limited budget. We had seven days of production across a diverse range of locations. We had to shoot way faster than I would ever want to; we were shooting most scenes at a 3:1 ratio, many takes were oners.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It was amazing to hear audiences really get it and even picked up on some of the subtle details that could be easily missed. It feels good to hear that that the themes we were exploring hit home for other people. It was especially cool to hear one audience member acknowledge that it really is a horror film.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

When I was 10 or 11, I saw the beginning of an action film on television with no idea what it was. Before the opening credits finished, I said to myself I bet John Woo directed this film. Then his name came up and it hit me that’s what I director does. If I can tell who directed a film simply from watching 60 seconds, that’s someone with unique vision and style. I said to myself that’s what I want to do and never looked back. The film was Hard Target.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Probably Back to the Future. My favorite films tend to be dark and dense, but the ones I watch the most, are more light-hearted.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

It would be nice to get direct feedback and interaction on the film, but I realized this is not always practical or scalable.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Good, no complaints.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Pretty much anything Mexican.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

Currently, I’m working on a few feature length screenplays that I’ve been slowly developing over the last few years. If funding lines up, I am planning on making another chapter for Artificial Existence perhaps as a television pilot. There are more stories I would like to tell in that world, but from different perspectives. Who knows, it might become a series.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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