Director Mike Cahill on how iris-scanning technology, Richard Dawkins, and a TED talk inspired his new film, I Origins.
Cahill based Pitt’s Ian Gray character loosely on scientist Richard Dawkins. “The scanning of the color part of your eye has been around since 1987 when he figured out the algorithm and it’s been a slow-growing technology over the years. Nowadays in New York City if a person is arrested they get their eye scanned, babies in hospitals get their eyes scanned, you can go through the fast lane at the airport if you do your iris scan.”
The filmmaker became further sold on the power of iris scans after checking out a TED Talk by Jeff Carter. “He talks about how fingerprints only give you so many degrees of accuracy, where as the patterns in your eyes form when you’re in your mother’s womb and stay the same for you for your entire life,” Cahill notes. “From a technological standpoint, it’s a great way to ID a person. And since the eye has also enticed poets since the dawn of civilization, it seemed like a wonderful meeting place for two of my greatest passions—science and spirituality.”
The emotionally charged exhibition used wearable tech to recognize more than just great ideas.
A great piece of film will always elicit an emotional response, be it joy, discomfort, laughter, or a touch of melancholy. We’ve seen the trend in advertising, wherein brands are going right for the cockles of the heart with emotionally rich stories. But unless you shed a tear or break out in laughter, it’s hard for an outsider to know what you’re really feeling.
Saatchi & Saatchi tapped into those inner emotions with its New Directors Showcase—an annual selection of the best new directing talent that’s presented at Cannes—which it called Feel the Reel. Along with showing films, the NDS is famous for the accompanying grand theatrical piece. This year, the global agency network tapped wearable technology to mine individual emotional reactions to the work and visualize it for all to see. In short, if one of the 18 filmmakers’ films made you cry, it was visualized through a bracelet that changed color with your emotions.
“We literally monitored people’s individual reactions to what they were watching and not in a way that they can control,” says Andy Gulliman, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide Film and Content Director and the curator of this year’s reel. “We’ve monitored their body and how their natural emotions react. We then created data from that, which gave us a response to what they’re watching. So if the brain is thinking that you’re going to cry, then that light comes on.”
“We’re somewhat the uninvited guest,” says Cliff Marks, president of sales and marketing at NCM Media Networks, which produces the program. “No one comes to the movies and says, ‘I wonder what’s going to be in the pre-show.’ But since we’ve created this show, you wouldn’t believe how great the consumer response is.”
When it launched in 2002, he says, people booed and threw stuff at the screen. Today, in surveys, 95% of viewers say they like it.
When two actor friends waded into the Occupy Wall Street protests while pretending to be obnoxious investment bankers, Brendan Gibbons knew he had the foundation for a humorous and morally ambiguous tale about “the defining issue of our time.”