Toaster - My iiNet TopGeek Challenge 2 Entry

Posted on February 28, 2011 | 4 minute read

Over the last week the remaining 15 contestants in iiNet’s TopGeek competition have been hard at work on Challenge 2 - The Script. The challenge was to create a concept for a TV show, comic book, or graphic novel and produce an overview of your idea along with a trailer or video of some sort or a storyboard or comic sample.

If I was as confident in my drawing skills as I used to be years ago, I probably would have done a comic. I know Cassandra chose to do a comic book idea, but she’s an awesome comic artist and there’s no way I could compete with that! So my idea was for a documentary called Toaster.

The year is 2099. It has been five years since robots embedded with Intel’s “Artintelligence i75” chips have been recognized as legal citizens in most countries around the world, including Australia. However, many humans have yet to come to terms with robots’ newfound equality in the eyes of the law. Many call for Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics to be re-programmed into the machines. Partly due to the media’s portrayal of intelligent robots as “evil” and dangerous, the prejudices of humans against robots have become ingrained in our culture. A particular term from the TV series Battlestar Galactica has caught on especially quickly as a degrading insult when referring to robots: Toaster.

Elsie is a robot living as a second-class citizen in Perth, Western Australia. Due to humanity’s prejudices, she remains in the closet – posing as a human being to those around her. Now, we finally get a chance to follow and experience what it’s really like to live as a robot in our society. Elsie has agreed to allow our crew to follow her for one year, documenting her life and the joys and struggles that come with it. What’s more, she has agreed to make this her coming out story.

Raving Reviews _“I’ll never look at Toasters the same way again.”

  • Christopher “Robot Killer” Jamesinton

“Heart-wrenchingly honest. I now welcome our robot overlords.” – Kiki Li

“Illustrates our struggles to fit in with human society perfectly.” - 01100100 01101111 01101111 01101101_

I worked very hard on this entry, but I’m afraid there are just so many awesome film makers in the top 15 that my chances of getting through to the top 10 aren’t that great. But that’s ok! It’s a long-standing Russian tradition/superstition to be pessimistic about one’s chances of something good happening until after it’s happened and I think this was ingrained in me from when I was a child. But really, though - check out some of the other videos and you’ll see what I’m working with here!

Anyway, so I’ve accepted that my chances of getting through aren’t very good. Nevertheless, I’m still proud of my entry. I’ve never done anything like this before - video was never really my thing. And I of course couldn’t have done it without the help of some amazing people:

Ryan Angus played Elsie’s boyfriend Bobby. His ability to keep a straight face for a scene while I’m laughing my head off is amazing and also unnerving.

Ellen Jurik played the disgruntled/snobby shopper who told Elsie that no one wants her kind around here. Ellen might not have a very good grasp grasp on the concept of personal boob space, but she certainly has great grasp on the concept of being awesome.

C, the wonderful boyfriend, was the cameraman for the scenes with Ryan and Ellen. I also have to thank him for putting up with my stressed out self over the past week as the idea and video came together.

Andy Wells, who is also a contestant in the top 15, took the time to help me with my video’s interlacing issues. You should also check out his amazing trailer for his movie idea called Falling Down. I couldn’t be competing against a nicer bunch of people!

So, even if my time with TopGeek does come to an end, this was a great challenge to take part in and I’m looking forward to seeing who does make it through.




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