On the seventh floor of an average building in the West Village is Dune Studios or better known for the rest of the weekend as the Bombay Sapphire House of Imagination. In this blue-lit, warehouse-like space is the inaugural installment of the Tribeca Film Festival’s newest free event, Storyscapes. On exhibit from April 19th through April 21st are five very unique films that bridge filmmaking and technology. The works chosen for TFF’s Storyscapes are all “multi-platform transmedia program[s] celebrat[ing] new trends in digital media and regular filmmakers and content creators who employ an interactive, web-based or cross-platform approach to story creation.”
Sure to steal your heart, the standout star of Storyscapes was a tiny cardboard robot with large doe eyes and a cute smile called a BlabDroid Filmmaker from the exhibit Robots in Residence. This pint-size robot looks like Wall-e’s kid brother and is an interactive filmmaking device. When you sign out a robot, the BlabDroid asks you intimate questions about yourself and your thoughts on human interaction and the universe. The creators of this adorable robot, Alexander Reben and Brent Hoff have set out to challenge Alfred Hitchcock’s claim that “in feature films the director is God; in documentary films God is the director” by using a theory called the “Eliza Effect.” Based on research that shows humans cannot resist revealing themselves to robots Reben and Hoff are aiming to create a one-of-a-kind, never been done before documentary. When you sign out a BlabDroid, the robot will walk around the floor and will ask you a series of questions while filming your reaction to the questions and recording your responses. Questions include What’s your biggest regret? Why do humans have children? What is one thing you’ve never told a stranger before? and many more. When the footage is completed, and BlabDroid gets the funding they need to proceed, BlabDroid’s documentary will be the world’s first documentary shot and directed entirely by robots.
During the last night of Storyscapes, Sunday, April 21st, Robots in Residence will be premiering a short film cut from the footage gathered by the robots during the weekend event. If you'd like to check out the event and participate in the BlabDroid project, walk-ins, 21 and over, are welcome. The Storyscapes address is 121 Varick Street, NYC with an entrance located on Dominick Street between Varick and Hudson Streets.
To learn more about BlabDroid and Robots in Residence Films visit their website and watch the video below!