How They Did It: Meet Sentient Ava from Ex Machina

Artificial intelligence has certainly become a hot genre, as dystopia was, yet Alex Garland (Sunshine28 Days Later) has no idea why besides our own paranoia with privacy. However, he’s made one of the smartest and most compelling sci-fi movies in years with his debut Ex Machina, a cleverly Pinteresque power-play between Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson with the beguiling Alicia Vikander as the sentient object of their desire, Ava.

And the introductory “Meet Ava” scene (watch below) has all the right visual and thematic cues to seduce us with color, light and space — exquisitely shot by British cinematographer Rob Hardy.

“There’s so much going on in that moment and it’s beautiful in silhouette as she walks on,” Garland said. “And there are so many layers that you would never expect anyone to react to except on an unconscious level. There’s the presentation in the deep background of a little garden area, which is always behind glass, which is there to show her that there is an environment outside the glass box in which she’s trapped. And so the first time you see her, at the far end of all those panes of glass, there is that thing which becomes the object of her desire.”

For Hardy (The Invisible Woman, The Forgiveness of Blood), this represents a mainstream breakthrough and he seized the opportunity with aesthetic confidence. “It’s got to be no-holds barred [introduction to Ava] and we feel the same as Caleb,” he reflected. “At the same time, we’re not quite sure what this is and it was also important to introduce an element of unease in that scene.

“What’s great is that it tells you everything you need to know very quickly about the environment that Ava is in. It’s a prison with many layers. It very much emphasizes the parameters of Ava’s world and how we can see through to this outside world, which, in many respects, is a construct like Ava,” Hardy said. “Once you understand the space, then you understand the scenes and things just present themselves. And instinctively you know if it’s right or wrong.”

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Clips, Crafts, How They Did It, Movies, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production

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