My experiences of working with Horizon’s AIM project

My experiences of working with Horizon’s AIM project

Actress, writer Jessica M. Milford talks about her experience of working with the Horizon Adaptive Interactive Movies project on the production of ‘Before We Disappear’ in the Cobot Maker Space.

“I am an actress, writer, someone who is passionate about artistic expression and story telling, so I was understandably fascinated when you [Richard] first approached me with the [Before We Disappear – BWD] script. It took some work to fully grasp the intricacies of the story and immerse myself in the BWD dystopian world. However, I enjoyed that journey because we worked collaboratively from very early on. I felt empowered to be granted a great level of agency over my character [Zoe Trope]. We wrapped and I left a better actor, grew as a person, as a creative because of BWD. I have so many good things to say about my time with you, cast and crew.

Richard asked if the film being part of a wider research project made a difference and Jessica explained:

“It did, it made me feel like I was part of something that at some point, would inevitably make the ‘film world history books’. That’s what I hope for BWD and The AlbinoMosquito company. With the script alone, it felt important; I had to be Zoe and part of this ‘film moment’. It learnt something new everyday which is always a plus. I’d never been in a sci-fi, but had always wanted to. Ticked that off my career bucket list and remember excitingly telling Rich and Rachel [BWD producer], on my first rehearsal day in Nottingham. Although a newbie to the tech world, I was kept informed throughout the shoot (by you Richard), showing me the animatronics and other robots housed at the CobotMaker Space. Looking back, I’m so happy, privileged even, that there is now this piece of history that I have contributed to”.

And what did you think of Spot, what were your expectations of working with a robotic dog?

“Loved Spot! Here’s a role where you get to interact with a robot – it was such fun and nothing like anything I have done before. The minute I read [robot] in the script I was super excited. That’s so cool! Then getting on set and seeing Spot for the first time just surpassed my expectations. Being up close to a robot of this kind was certainly new.  When I first saw Spot in person, it (I didn’t or maybe couldn’t assign a gender) felt real – animalistic. I think that’s because of the backstory I had created prior to. Spot felt like a living, sentient being, and that was how I approached our relationship. I didn’t see Spot as ‘this thing’ that had been programmed by Richard, it was a living sentient being. With emotions that I’d projected onto them.”

How did Jessica feel about working in the Cobot Maker Space?  

I spent 3 days at the facility, and it was a fun time. I felt so immersed in this ‘techy’ environment – it’s embarrassingly the closest I’ve come to being in the ‘tech world’. Outside of this my world is period dramas, thrillers, horrors, comedies, commercials etc. I’m interested in modern art, music and others – things that don’t give me access to this world – so it was really exciting. Ultimately though, it felt comfortable. I knew I could always ask questions without feeling silly and I could be curious about things like the white waiter robot (Robin, a service robot) that carried a tray between its arms and seemed pretty cool to me. Very darned grateful.”


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