JJ Abrams Gives Insight on Technology in the Film Industry

By Allison Belcher
SXSW Press Team

JJ Abrams speaks at SXSW INteractive. Photo by Allison Belcher.
JJ Abrams speaks at SXSW INteractive. Photo by Allison Belcher.

There is absolutely no doubt that JJ Abrams is a film industry genius. Abrams has done a bit of everything, from the television series “Lost” to “Inception,” to “Star Wars” and “Super 8.” Abrams has blessed the competitive field of movie making with hard-to-come-by talent. Abram’s undeniable fame was visually proven at his panel on Monday, filling up a huge convention center ballroom with thousands of people. Abrams is a film prodigy, there is no denying that, so it was a huge opportunity to hear his take on technology in the film industry, insight on his newest television series “WestWorld,” and how he is able to complete so many projects at once.

The world of technology is constantly expanding and growing. In a field that is dominated by a high demand for bigger and better technology, it seems almost impossible to not let the tech world overshadow the beauty of natural and simple work. Abrams is known for his dismissal of using too much CGI, especially in his direction of the newest “Star Wars” movie, “The Force Awakens.”

“The biggest challenge with technology is learning how to hide it,” Abrams said. “I don’t want my movies to look like they are generated from a computer.”

Abram’s said that the best movies should be able to engross you without 3D effect and that the story and characters alone should be able to captivate its audience. When asked his opinion regarding what storytelling constraints will eventually be solved with technology in the future, JJ was blunt in his response.

“There will be tools that will be able to edit work on the fly but in the end, really good work takes time and patience,” said Abrams.

One of JJ Abram’s newest works is an HBO television series titled, “WestWorld.” The series is inspired by the 1973 film written by Michael Crichton about a futuristic theme park populated by artificial beings. One of Abram’s challenges with “WestWorld” was being able to hide the machinery and overall uses of technology in order to keep audiences as captivated as possible. With regards to Abram’s work on the newest “Star Wars” franchise, his viewpoints were incredibly similar to that of his work on “WestWorld.” In the case of “Star Wars,” his idea was to create “a sense of analog authenticity visually, and most importantly, to make sure the humanity of the characters wasn’t getting lost wherever possible.”

Abrams is known for his heavy use of artificial intelligence and futuristic beings in his movies and television shows, so it is only expected that challenges are to arise when working with digitally constructed characters. Abram’s stated that it is a challenge to get people to feel for robots, but with Abram’s experience and specialty in working with films surrounding A.I. characters, it seems like the talented director and producer is hardly struggling with that challenge.

When asked how he seems to be able to do so many projects at once, Abrams chuckled, stating that the great thing about directing “Star Wars” is you can say, “Sorry I can’t help you, I’m directing Star Wars.”

In an industry that is overrun by new technological advances and a dependency on CGI, Abrams is able to produce authentic and natural work, captivating people with his story and characters, not just through the use of technology, which is what makes Abram such a notable figure in the world of film.

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