Lena's Complicated Machine - by Malik Isasis

Three years after her partner's untimely death, Dr. Lena Thierry, a neuroengineer, has been unable to move on. After years of research and development, she attempts to upload his consciousness into a computer software program.


BUREAU: When you decided to make this short film, where did you start? 

ISASIS: I would like to contextualize my answer to this question with just a bit of background. I did not go to film school. I have been a filmmaker for sixteen years, self-taught, and so for the last sixteen years, I have largely, created a self-apprenticeship to sustain myself as an artist.

I am constantly re-working, and fine-tuning my craft. For the last three years I have been getting into the speculative fiction space (I typically write dramatic pieces). I came across an article on Whole Brain Emulation.  WBE is the idea that one day we will be able to upload our brains—our memories, experience, mainly our lives on a hard drive. I found the theory fascinating.  

After doing research, I decide I would dive in and have Whole Brain Emulation be the B-story, while the A story would focus on the complications of grief.  This was how Lena’s Complicated Machine was born. The heart of the story is the ethic of hacking someone’s brain for dealing with grief.

BUREAU: What kind of hurdles do you face as a filmmaker working in short film? 

ISASIS: I believe the hurdles for shorts and features are similar regarding production—many of the same concepts and processes do not change.  However, the major hurdle for short films is that our culture does not value short works.

It is disheartening when short film platforms are overrun with high-concept special effects short projects whose primary purpose is to be a proof of concept, and get the attention from Hollywood. Sometimes it all feels like a gold rush.

The consequences are that the audiences get trained on expectations, and attention span and those shorts telling simple stories about the human condition are pushed further into the background.

BUREAU: What projects are you working on next, and how can people who are interested best support or share that work? 

ISASIS: My next short project is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar starring an all-female cast. It will not be set in a contemporary setting. I plan to keep the Shakespearean English and the Roman time period.

New York City has nine castles. My ultimate goal is to film in the New York Metropolitan cloisters.  The challenge will be getting these locations.

I have just finished the adaptation, and now starts the long road of producing, securing some funds, but more importantly, obtaining support from the community to make it a reality. If people are interested in supporting a project like this, by all means, contact me via my website at malik.nyc, let's have a conversation.

Mike Ambs

PO BOX 3464, Running Springs, CA 92382

I love to film things, tell stories, and read on the subway. I'm pretty sure blue whales are my power animal.