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AI film marathon competition kicks off in Los Angeles

By RENA LI in Los Angeles | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-11 10:01
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Just one month after the premiere of the world's first AI feature film in Los Angeles, film and television companies are accelerating the integration of artificial intelligence technology into the industry.

Shanghai Film Company took its initiative abroad and hosted an event titled "The New Era: AI & Global Film" on Monday in Los Angeles, displaying the robust presence of Chinese films and television in the IP+AI domain to international audiences.

The event marked the official launch of the Global AI Film Marathon competition, which aims to discover high-quality AI film and television startups, projects and talent worldwide.

Seeking to establish a global "AI+film" ecosystem, the competition offers a prize pool of $100,000, with investment opportunities of up to 1 billion yuan ($140 million) from the Shanghai Film New Vision Fund.

Wang Jian'er, chairman of Shanghai Film, expressed the company's commitment to embracing the AI era.

"Standing at the forefront of the new technology era in the industry, Shanghai Film needs to expand its global presence," Wang said.

Because Shanghai and Los Angeles are leading film capitals, they can work together to leverage their strengths and drive innovation in the industry globally, Wang said.

"We are dedicated to promoting the practical implementation of Shanghai Film's IP+AI projects and fostering collaboration to establish a global AI film and television ecological alliance," he said.

Earlier this year, the threat of AI to Hollywood's status quo became more tangible with the introduction of Sora by OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. Sora is a tool capable of generating photorealistic and cinematic video from text-based prompts, further highlighting the potential of AI in filmmaking.

Last month, Los Angeles welcomed the world premiere of one of the first feature-length films entirely generated by AI. This groundbreaking parody remake of Terminator 2 involved the collaboration of 50 artists in the AI space, demonstrating the evolving landscape of AI-driven creativity in cinema.

Since Sora sparked a wave of turbulence in the film and television industry, Shanghai Film has swiftly responded to the AI trends, and the Global AI Film Marathon will be a crucial platform for talent acquisition through projects and talent chain technology.

The competition is jointly organized by Shanghai Film, the New Vision Fund and filMarathon, a platform for young film creators. Co-organizers include Shanghai Film's affiliates — Shanghai Animation Film Studio, Shanghai Film Infinity and Haopu Film and TV Base.

Together, they will drive the implementation of film+AI and IP+AI collaboration across production, IP partnerships and industrial empowerment, injecting new momentum into Shanghai Film's global IP initiatives.

The Chinese American Film Festival, as the overseas co-organizer, will partner with Shanghai Film to facilitate exchanges and collaboration between Chinese and US filmmakers in AI-driven cinema.

Andre Morgan, co-chair of the Chinese American Film Festival and producer of the Oscar-winning film Million Dollar Baby, stressed the significant potential for AI cooperation in film co-productions between the United States and China.

Fostering collaborations

"These interactions will foster collaboration and facilitate the exchange of ideas to further improve the integration of AI technology in the global film and television industry," Morgan said.

He emphasized Shanghai's longstanding position at the forefront of innovation in media, entertainment and technology. Morgan said he believes that through Shanghai's initiative in launching the competition, both sides can actively promote participation among young filmmakers and encourage them to take part in the endeavor.

Bob Underwood, a scriptwriter and producer, said that while AI may initially transform certain aspects of film production, it will not replace human creativity anytime soon.

"I don't think AI is going to be able to do that convincingly very soon. I do think it's going to change the production aspects very quickly, but it'll change the marketplace for international productions a lot," he said.

Underwood said he has partnered on a couple of projects in China, including a science fiction project, in the animation.

Cultural exchanges between China and the US are highly important given the unsteady bilateral relationship, he said.

Damon Ross, a business manager whose company represents numerous actors, writers and directors, said his talent could be quite interested in taking part in the AI film competition.

"There's immense potential in the marketplace, and we should collaborate to ensure we produce the best creations possible. I believe AI can play a significant role in this endeavor," he said.

Li Zhiqiang, deputy consul general of China's Consulate General in Los Angeles, said China and the US, as the world's two largest film markets, are highly complementary in industrial development and economic interests.

"With the help of this competition, the film and television industry of China and the US can work together to leverage the advantages of artificial intelligence, carry out practical and efficient cooperation, and actively explore beneficial aspects," he said.

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