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Director Gabe Ibáñez On The Creation of His Powerful Sci-Fi Film ‘Automata’


Fast forward fifty years into the future, planet earth is in the midst of gradual desertification. Mankind struggles to survive as the environment deteriorates and the slow regression of the human race begins in AUTÓMATA. On the brink of life and the reality of death, technology combats the prevailing uncertainty and fear with the creation of the first quantum android, the Automata Pilgrim 7000. Designed to bring support to society’s plight, man and robot reveal what it means to co-exist in a culture defined by human nature.

The descent of civilization is juxtaposed by the rise of ROC, the corporation at the helm of robotic intelligence. Despite the demise of humanity, the company has set forth security protocols to ensure mankind always maintains control over the manufactured population. As ROC insurance agent, Jacq Vaucan (Antonio Banderas) routinely investigates cases and complaints surrounding defective androids, he begins to uncover the secrets behind who is really manipulating the Automata Pilgrim 7000. Jacq’s own suspicions propel the mystery— uncovering a truth that is far more complex than the make or model of any machine.

Writer/Director Gabe Ibáñez was driven to tell a story that blurs the lines between science fiction and reality. Ibáñez gives audiences a compelling look into the theory of evolution and what life might be like for mankind in the not too distant future. With powerful performances from a cast including Antonio Banderas, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Melanie Griffith, Dylan McDermott and Robert Forster, AUTÓMATA is a sci-fi film noir that explores the potential dangers and complexities when mind and machine merge.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with director Gabe Ibáñez to discuss the creation of ‘Automata,’ the challenges of bringing it to screen and what may be next for this director in the rise. 

Gabe Ibáñez
Gabe Ibáñez

What intrigued you early on about the world of filmmaking and made you pursue it as a career?

I have been working many years with images. First, I was a visual supervisor to the artist. After working many years with images, you need to go to the furthest point. I started to make some of my ideas into short films. Believe me, I was very happy doing short films but one day a producer came to me and said “I want you to make this movie with this script.” That was my first opportunity to shoot a movie, so I did! After that I began to work on my first script, which is ‘Automata.’ Everything came about in a very smooth way, first with short films and then with movies.

How would you cite as your biggest directorial influences?

My biggest influences are some of the biggest directors in the world like Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch and Kurosawa. Those are my biggest influences. When it comes to ‘Automata.’ the influences are classic science fiction movies from the 60s and 70s like ‘The Andromeda Strain,’ ‘The Omega Man’ and ‘The Planet of the Apes.’ Those were the years when science fiction movies had a strong philosophical concept behind them and were for more than just entertainment.

What sparked the idea for ‘Automata’ originally?

When I was growing up, my grandfather had a box of science fiction books and magazines. I would read the Isaac Asimov books with all the stories about robots. That is the kind of thing that was always in my mind from that point. The first time I decided to write a script, I wanted to do this kind of Isaac Asimov-like universe. Also, there is a very important idea in the film that is important now and will be more important in the years to come; technological singularity and the idea of artificial intelligence going beyond human intelligence. This will be a very important paradigm in the next years. This was a very important idea in the Isaac Asimov books, as well. I also read a story in the news a few years ago about a 3D printer that was able to create almost all the pieces to create a new 3D printer. It was almost able to self-produce another machine. These ideas influenced ‘Automata.’


The film features a tremendous cast. What can you tell us about the casting process for the project?

Antonio Banderas was the first person I sent the script. He loved the story and wanted to produce the movie. Melanie Griffith has a relationship with Antonia, so she came aboard. Working with Millennium gave us the opportunity to work with great people like Dylan McDermott and Robert Forster.

What are the biggest challenges you faced in bringing this film from script to screen?

One of the biggest challenges was to try and make a movie today the way movies used to be done many years ago. An example is the robots in the movie. Today, people often use computer graphics to do the robot scenes. We decided to work with very classic techniques and move the robots with puppeteers. Using a very classic or old fashioned way to work with elements in the shooting is very difficult because no one is used to working this way. Approaching the movie in this way is one of the more difficult things we could have done. We were trying to make a movie like one of the classic science fiction movies from the 60s or 70s. We were looking to achieve the highest values for the movie we could and it was difficult because no one is working in that direction now. Working in a different direction is always difficult.

Gabe Ibáñez's 'Automata'
Gabe Ibáñez’s ‘Automata’

What is the biggest lesson you have learned as a director from your experiences on this project?

That is a good question. I learned the same thing I learned with my first movie, which is how difficult it is to make a movie. There is a big difference between what you want to do and what you are able to do. Making movies is very difficult because there are so many people and elements involved. It is a miracle to be able to accomplish what you envision. I learned this and in a way I learned the same thing with my first movie. It is a very important lesson in making movies.

What is up next for you as a director? Are there any projects you have set your sights on?

That depends on how well ‘Automata’ works. I am working on two science fiction scripts. One script is about space, the moon and the limits of the solar system. The other project is contact with extraterrestrials. These are two small science fiction movies in the same way “Automata” is and are two very realistic science fiction movies, so I am working on them.

What is the best advice you can pass along to aspiring filmmakers?

It is very difficult to do a movie. There are a lot of elements that are out of your control. We never know how many movies we are going to do in our lives, so try to make the movie that you want. Make the best movie you can. Sometimes, the road of making a movie is difficult, so the road has to be interesting to you because you never know where the road will take you.

Thank you for your time today! I really enjoyed ‘Automata’ and can’t wait to see you next project!

Thank you, Jason!

‘Automata’ opens in theaters and VOD on October 10th, 2014. To learn more about the film, visit the official website at www.automata-movie.com.