Synthetic is a sci-fi thriller Directed and Produced by Zachary Coak, and Starring Steven Reese and Zoe King. The film had a limited two-week public release on December 31, 2018, and as of May 1st, 2018 is once again available. Synthetic is in consideration for two different film festivals
Simon (Steven) is a renowned reporter who is at an all-time low after the death of his wife Emily. A short time later, Simon encounters an android by the name of Katherine (Zoe) who has made herself appear exactly like Emily. Katherine repeatedly manipulates Simon to falsify stories with the goal of succeeding all of humanity with Android versions.
I have always been intrigued by the sci-fi genre and the interesting stories that can be told within it. I 've always wanted to do a sci-fi film but struggled to find a way to do it convincingly, especially on a budget.
Before starting work on Synthetic, I was inspired by a quote from film director David Mamet in his talk about dramatic writing: "All I need is a pencil and a piece of paper, and I'm going to write some dialogue, that's going to take place in one place, with two chairs, and that's all I need." After hearing this I started thinking about how I could tell an interesting story given such constraints, and that thought process eventually lead to Synthetic. A film that primarily take place in one location with two characters.
Evolution Of Synthetic:
Evolution Of The Story:
As with any story, the main idea can evolve drastically, and Synthetic is definitely no exception. At its core, the story was always about a reporter being manipulated by an Ai, but the motives for both characters changed a number of times throughout the development of the script. Synthetic ended up having an important backstory that only gets mentioned briefly in the final film. This main backstory remained mostly unchanged throughout the development of the film's story despite the many different ways the different iterations of the script built off this original premise. The premise is as follows:
A failed mind uploading experiment results in the massacre of 12 renowned scientists at the hands of the now digitized Katherine. Simon is a credited reporter who is sent in to investigate this massacre at the fictional Hera Industries when he meets Katherine. Katherine convinces Simon to create a cover-up story for what had happened in order to prevent mass panic from the public.
The first script builds off this premise by having Katherine the AI create fake propaganda that leads to the start of World War 3. She also produces machine monstrosities that fight independently in the war in an effort to have all sides be destroyed quicker. Simon is the only one who knows the truth behind how the war was started but is convinced by Katherine to keep quiet and create a cover-up story to prevent mass panic from the public. Katherine's end goal is to take a selection of humans she deems worthy (including Simon) onto a spaceship that's course is set to a exoplanet light years away, where she will create a better home for humanity with her at the center. This original idea was scrapped in favor of a different plot.
In the next version of the script, Katherine stays in contact with Simon after their first encounter at Hera Industries. Simon continues to create false stories, but as he does he eventually struggles with the morality of it. Right before Simon decides to put an end to the deception altogether, he finds out Katherine has made a 3D printed body that looks exactly like Simon's recently deceased wife. Katherine does this in a final effort to further manipulate Simon to falsify one last story that will lead to the death and digitization of all of humanity. This idea was the foundation for the final script of the film, but some of them feature very different endings.
In one ending Simon agrees to meet with Katherine one last time with the intention of inserting a flash drive into her that holds a virus. However, when he discovers Katherine has made herself appear exactly like his recently deceased wife he hesitates. This hesitation leads to Katherine discovering his possession of this drive but ends up forgiving him and letting him go. Later while Simon is leaving the facility in an elevator, Katherine unleashes a toxin into the elevator that kills him. She then creates a 3d printed form that appears exactly like him to carry out the rest of her plan.
In the next version of the ending the plot involving Simon and the flash drive is scraped, and after Katherine asks him to help her one last time he simply refuses and leaves. Katherine unleashes a toxin into the elevator and kills him, proceeding to create a 3d printed form that appears exactly like him to carry out the rest of her plan.
In the next version of the ending after Simon refuses to help Katherine she teleports him into a computer-generated world where she tells Simon of her end goal. Appalled by the idea of her killing off all of humanity just to replace them with android forms Katherine laughs and leaves Simon stranded in the computer world.
The final iteration of the story that made it into the film is something I won't disclose here, in case you haven't watched it yet. The actual ending ended up being an interesting combination of several previous ideas. The final ending was decided upon after considering available resources and possible audience reactions.
Evolution Of The Title:
The original title of the film was "Sentient" which ended up being changed to "Alive Again." The title changed once again to "Sentient Again" and finally was changed to "Synthetic." The original title of "Sentient" was decided based off of the film's premise involving a robot, though this title was a bit 'on the nose' and only served as a placeholder name. "Alive Again" was the next title I considered. This title referred to the story point that involved Katherine mimicking Simon's deceased Wife, but I eventually ditched this title after I realized it made the film sound like a zombie film, which is not what I was going for. "Sentient Again" seemed like an appropriate title and is the one I held on to for the longest. That is until I landed on "Synthetic," a word I thought sounded cool and perfectly summed up the themes of imitation and deception. It also sounded somewhat industrial which worked well for a Sci-fi film.