Hollywood is burning, and it’s not just the California sun. The writers’ union has been grinding axes for a while now, and recently, the actors joined the fray. There are tons of sticking points between the unions and the big studios, but the elephant in the room is artificial intelligence (AI) and its impending impact on the art of film creation. In the last 18 months or so, AI has slammed the creative industries, chopping down production times and slashing pay. There’s a real fear that this AI revolution could lead to sweeping unemployment or wage reductions to borderline poverty levels—and we’re not talking distant future. We’re talking with a couple of years, maybe less.
This past weekend, Hollywood had itself for a box office tsunami, the biggest since the world went under lockdown. We’ve got “Barbie,” featuring Hollywood powerhouses Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, and “Oppenheimer,” a Christopher Nolan masterpiece, hitting the screens. For the first time in a good three years, the masses are actually thrilled to hit the theaters again.
In the midst of this fervor, there’s a meme on the loose – ‘Barbenheimer.’ It’s everywhere on the internet. Capitalizing on the buzz, a crew calling itself ‘the first ‘AI movie film studio’ – Curious Refuge, put out a parody trailer, crafted solely with AI wizardry and they will teach anyone how to do it too. It’s not seamless, but it’s a chilling exhibit of what the unions are up against. Deepfakes, dubbed celebrity voices, slick editing, animations—the whole shebang, done on a shoestring budget of about $30, in a ridiculously short 4 days. And it’s going viral.
The industry’s future is in plain sight, and it’s not a pretty picture.
So why the hell are we hashing this out in Richmond? Because this tech tsunami isn’t some distant threat—it’s already lapping at our shores. It’s changing our world in subtle ways, and soon it will be all-encompassing. For the creative minds in the city, it’s adapt or get left behind—master the tools of the future, or join the struggle for jobs that will soon be as in-demand as a landline phone. We’re spotlighting this moment so that, years from now, we can look back and remember when over-the-counter, budget AI started taking over the silver screen.