Our Robot Overlords

Now that Gillian Anderson has spilled the beans, I guess I can talk a little more about OUR ROBOT OVERLORDS, the script I’ve been working for the better part of the last two years. So let’s if I can do this without dropping any mahoosive spoilers or enraging the producers.

Your friendly, neighbouring robot Sentry.
Your friendly, neighbourhood robot Sentry.

Director Jon Wright and I have a straightforward method of working: I plough ahead and make a complete mess with the first draft, then Jon comes along behind me and tidies up, then I do another pass and tidy his stuff, and so on and so on until, about 18 drafts later, we have something that looks like a script.

Robots started with Jon describing a dream where he was trapped inside his house, with heavily-armed robots stomping outside. He knew instinctively that the second he stepped outside he would be toast. We started bouncing ideas back and forth and it very quickly became clear that this was very fertile ground for a cracking movie.

We decided early on that it should be a family film, but with a real edge to it: proper peril, lots of action, explosions, death, running and screaming. We were inspired by the kind of movies we loved as kids: Goonies and Raiders, especially, but also by more recent films that merged great storytelling and strong VFX; Jurassic Park, Super 8 and District 9.

One of the many great things about working with Jon is, thanks to his experience with VFX on his previous films, he knows precisely what can and cannot be done on a relatively small budget, so our movie will definitely be punching above its weight when it comes to spectacle. But, thanks to over 2 years of development and support from our producer Piers Tempest (Best. Name. Ever), and Natascha Wharton and Jamie Wolpert at the BFI, we also have a script with characters that are just a joy to write and will hopefully be more engaging than the kind of one-note cyphers you can get in certain big-budget Hollywood fare.

We also gathered a bunch of people we know to read the script at various stages in development. These included a director Olly Blackburn, editor Matt Platt-Mills, VFX expert Paddy Eason, writers Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler, and the actor Rick Warden. Each gave their own unique perspective on the script, making it richer with each pass (my favourite note was from Mark: “I’d like 64% less infanticide, please…”).

It’s been so exciting seeing this story come to life. Not just through our words, but with the concept art of Paul Catling, the storyboards of Gabriel Schucan, the VFX work of Paddy Eason and his team at Nvizible, and the sales team at Embankment.

We’re now on the threshold of production.Thanks to our amazing casting director Amy Hubbard, we have a couple of jaw-droppingly good actors attached: Gillian Anderson and Sir Ben Kingsley (I still have to pinch myself), and the current plan is to shoot in May. Film is a precarious business, and the delicate house of cards we’ve built could still tumble, but it’s looking good so far. Wish us luck and we’ll see you on the other side…