Logline: ARA is an AI software that can extract, delete and store memories, and that also has the unusual curiosity to experience and feel what it is to be human.
Genre: Science Fiction
Director/Writer/Producer: Dimi Nakov
About the filmmaker:
Dimi is an aspiring award winning filmmaker with a diverse body of work. Since 2009 he has produced a number of award winning music videos, corporate videos for Coca Cola, Short Films and a Feature Film. All of his short films have a non-exclusive distribution deals from numerous VOD distributors world-wide.
Dimi started as production runner on New Zealand’s Got Talent, also worked as a camera operator on Home Renovation TV Shows in New Zealand and has a credit as a Director Of Photography on a NZ 2012 released WWII feature “Journey Of a Story”. Also in 2012 one of Dimi’s short films “BlindSide” that he produced and directed was accepted in Cannes Short Film Corner, which took him to Cannes to experience its full glory and make valuable business relationships.
In 2009 Dimi founded a Non-Profit Organization FGN Inc. (FilmMakers Generation Next Incorporated), with over 34,000 members on facebook. FGN Inc. has the mission to engage, educate and support the next generation of filmmakers by providing a platform for them to share their works, help each other, learn from each other, connect with one another and make their dreams come true.
Currently Dimi is in post-production for his first Feature (as a Writer, Director, Producer) - Multi-Reality Science Fiction Drama titled ‘ARA’ and during March-April 2016 he was a screening committee member for “Diversity In Cannes Short Film Showcase”.
ARA is Looking for: (Finishing Funds, Equity Investors, Post VFX Studio Or School, VFX Supervisor, VFX Producer, VFX Technical Director, Sales Agents, Buyers, Distributors, PR & Marketing Partners, VR & AR Companies to Partner with):
Funding: Principal Photography was Self-Funded, Seeking Post-Production Finishing Funds
Production Company: Zodiac Entertainment Ltd
Release date: Project is currently in Early Stages of Post-Production – Release TBA
Why are you making ARA?
This is great question and it was the first question I asked myself right after I wrote the script. I just did not have a choice in the matter. I just had that burning idea for a while and had to get it out.
In all seriousness I did ask myself at some point Why I should start writing a science fiction feature film when I have never done one before, not even a short sci-fi. Why bother with something way harder than a horror or drama? Why not do a horror film as a first feature, which also seems to be the common pathway of most filmmakers?
Also why start writing and invest months and possibly years in a complex narrative driven science fiction feature with tons of visual effects, instead of making one of the other 4 more affordable feature film scripts I already had at the time? Also why make the narrative complex and not have it simple. Honestly I do not know the answers on most of those questions.
The simple answer is that because 'why not' and because I can. I probably made that decision years ago subconsciously, but have never acted on it because of that rational, logical thinking I had, that I was not ready for it yet or being afraid to fail or I am not good enough. So after years of suppressing that urge to write ARA, the time finally came in early 2012 when I just got a kick in the butt from one of our producers Graeme Cash, who gave me 6 weeks to do the first draft, which I did.
I was free and I felt compelled and absolutely absorbed by the desire and the need to make this mind bending story about a possible dystopian future that discusses our human desire for immortality, how we play gods with advanced bio-technologies, also about the hidden power of our dreams, about virtual reality and augmented reality, about blurring the lines between what’s real and what is not.
I wanted to show the strong emotional bond between a father and daughter, about an AI that is wondering about what it is to be human and what makes us human so special or why we think we are so special.
I wanted with ARA to ask the audience questions about morality, about our future as species, about the human condition and the future of our planet. I just could not take it out of my mind no matter how much my rational part of my brain was telling me that it's not my time yet to undertake this what it seems a mission impossible.
I was and still am a big risk taker and ARA was the biggest risk I could take and the biggest commitment I could make at that time, which hasn’t changed and I am glad I made that call even if it is so hard at times.
I am even more committed and excited about the film now than I was at the time I started writing. I just could not shake that feeling and need to tell that story for over a year before I started writing the first draft in 2012.
I guess also part of the reason I decided to make ARA was that I always loved big ideas, disruptive ideas, ideas that provoke thoughts and discussions. I love science fiction movies and the impossible strange and exciting worlds those films and ideas are offering us as an audience and the joy we have as story tellers creating those worlds.
Another indicator that this decision to make ARA was that I am also big fan of film legends such as: Christopher Nolan (visual style and storytelling) , The Wachowskis (visual style and storytelling), Frank Miller (visual style and storytelling), Orson Welles (visual style and storytelling), Stanley Kubrick(storytelling and visual style), Paul Verhoeven(visual Style and Storytelling), Guy Richie (visual style and storytelling), James Cameron, Akira Kurosawa, Steven Spielberg and many more.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
If you like a narrative driven, thought provoking mind bending science fiction story that gives you something new and fresh, then ARA is perfect for you. If you like movies that have underlining questions about the human condition, something new about our future as species, about bio-technologies, then this film is for you.
Imagine it is the year 2050 and we live in a dystopian (Blade Runner Type) world, where Jason Andrews is a biotech Engineer whose last chance of waking up his daughter Samara (Sam) from deep coma is an AI software "ARA" that he developed by mistake while working for the largest corporation on the planet (C.O.M.A Corp) and he is yet to make it fully operational, but before he does, Jason has to make an impossible choice.
He will have only one chance to choose to save his life, the life of his daughter or the lives of many. In the meantime the only thing that keeps Sam alive is ARA, but for how long can Sam and her dad Jason can stay alive? In which way the scales of reality will tip?
ARA is a film that provokes the audience to stop for a moment and think about the status quo and why we are all afraid to do something about it. By watching films like ARA, you as an audience are helping to change that same status quo by demanding to see films like ARA with big ideas and helping those ideas to becoming reality.
Then you are helping hardworking indie filmmakers, cast and crew to be able to keep doing what we all love doing and that is to make more movies that you can engage with beyond the epic explosions and fighting sequences, but also movies like ARA make you think, ask questions and entertain you at the same time.
Why the title ARA? What does ARA mean?
The direct translation of the title ARA is (Artificial Re-Constructive Anomaly & Augmented Reality Application), AI software with the desire to experience and feel what it is to be human.
Also ARA has a few other interesting meanings in some languages as I discovered after I had the title locked. (ARA in Japanese means: あら, which means FRESH) / (In Maori ARA means: Look, awake, arise, rise up, path, route, passageway, crossroads) / (In Maltese ARA means: See, watch) / (In Persian ARA means: brings rain) / (In Arabic ARA means: opinions, perspective) - ARA is also constellation, which in ancient Greek is called "Altar". Interestingly enough all those meanings also have ties with some of the ideas and thoughts the film holds in its story, which is absolutely great.
What are the technical challenges you’ve had to deal with in the production of this film?
ARA is the hardest and most ambitious project i have undertaken so far and i had the privilege to work with some amazing cast and crew. To make the principal photography work without a budget and with all cast and crew having day jobs to pay the bills, the logistics were quite substantial.
We knew it will take quite a few months to shoot the entire film on weekends, so we had to be on top of all things to accommodate all cast and crew requirements by giving everyone an advance schedule that could change and make everyone understand the level of commitment some of the cast and crew had to agree with.
The technical challenges during the principal photography were the green screen shots and after exhausting weekend of filming and a week of day time jobs and very little of free time we had to get ready for the next weekend of filming, which included securing locations, continuity of wardrobe, make up and lighting, given the fact we had 5 day gaps between each of the shooting blocks. Also now the really technical challenges are the number and the complexity of the visual effects and the of course the funding.
To summarise so far from the principal photography, ARA’s current rough cut has around 1565 shots compiled from more than 4200 takes (pushing the red/record button over 4200 times) during 48 days, over the 8 months’ worth of weekends on film set.
How has the script evolved over the course of its development?
The script evolved quite a bit. The very first draft I had is almost a different movie from what we have now. So the story changed drastically. I invited my sister Mariya Nakova to collaborate with me on the script for a few drafts and then I invited a film school buddy of mine Emilia Demerdjieva for a few drafts.
By the time Emilia and I did the next drafts we have already started the filming. Soon after I continued to do small re-writes after workshopping the scenes with the cast each week before the weekend shoots and added a number of new scenes. It is true that a movie is written 3 times. The first time is during the development/writing stage, then the second time is during the filming and the third is during post-production. Now we are at the very beginning of that third stage, so we have quite a bit to go before we have a complete movie.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
In terms of the script, the concept of the story, the behind the scenes photos and the promotional material we have online we have had very positive feedback and reaction. Most common is that the concept of the film feels original and different from what we see usually. From the cast and crew to the fans and supporters, the feedback is that everyone is anxious to see the film finished and I really can’t wait to share it with everyone.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
In terms of the script during development my co-screenwriters Mariya and Emilia challenged me quite a bit, which ultimately resulted in a better more dynamic and vibrant story. Also the producers Graeme Cash and Jacqui Gilbert as well as the cast’s feedback was absolutely essential to the final outcome of what we will see.
In terms of having a completed finished film, we are yet to find out, hopefully in a very near future, as soon as the film is completed. Once we start the film festival circuit and film markets, I will experience my fair share of feedback from the audience about the film. Feedback is essential to the development of every story and I included as a person and an artist. Plus I am sure my point of view could change at some point, which is only natural I guess.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on this platform?
My main goal is to inspire others to follow their gut instinct, their passions; their dreams because life is short and if we wait for the perfect moment or circumstance, then we might never end up living. Plus hopefully all of this could lead towards some exposure that could lead towards the completion of ARA. The path to success is not a straight line and there are no short cuts.
Who do you need to come on board to amplify this film’s message?
In order to finish the film we are after Finishing Funds, Equity Investors, Post VFX Studio Or VFX School, VFX Supervisor, VFX Producer, VFX Technical Director, Sales Agents, Buyers, Distributors, PR & Marketing Partners, VR & AR Company to Partner with.
What type of impact would you like this film to have?
I hope the audience will talk and discuss the film long after they have seen it and possibly see it more than once because they discover something new with each viewing. I want them to be emotionally engaged, but also allow them to have the time to be analytic about what’s happening on screen and to ask themselves why this is happening at that time and in that particular way.
Lastly, what’s a key question that will help spark a debate about this film?
The debate will be something along the lines of morality and moral obligations we have as humans towards the future generations. I want the audience to ask the question: How much do I as an individual care about my future, the future of the next generations as well as the future of our planet and what I am prepared to do about it.
You can find out more about ARA below:
ARA Facebook Page:
ARA Twitter Page:
ARA Instagram Page:
ARA IMDb Page:
How can people keep up to date with your work?
Some of Dimi’s links :
My IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3961109/?ref_=rvi_nm
My Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DimiNakovDirector/
My Twitter: https://twitter.com/DimiNakov
My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dimi_nakov/
Zodiac Entertainment Website: http://zodiacentertainment.co.nz/
My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Dimisim1979