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Award Winner

Festival Season:

September 2023

The Man Behind the Machine

The Man Behind the Machine



Dalano Barnes
Dalano Barnes


Dalano Barnes

Run Time:


Awarded for the following Category(s):

Awarded Category(s)

Artificial Intelligence has progressed to its next step in evolution, named "Artificial Life" or "AL", created by a corporation called "Turing". X33, an AL that has spent its entirety under the ownership of Martin Bradshaw, is suddenly confiscated by a Turing employee for an apparent maintenance check. After being taken to a Turing facility X33 meets another AL, forcing X33 to question everything it knows.

Submitter Statement

The surface question this film asks is if we create machines that have programmed emotions and self-awareness, is there still a difference between us and the machine?

But beyond that it is a story of the loss of innocence, leaving the question of do we just become what our environment forces us to be, and do we have any choice in that?

The protagonist, X33 is the representation of innocence and blissful ignorance. The conflicts the AI faces forces it to consider its individuality, whether we really are individuals or just products of what other people force us to be.

Martin represents the environment. But he also represents the contradictions that we must face everyday within ourselves. The conflicting opinions that he has, whether to do what's right by him or what's right by others.

I want this film to convey an atmosphere of loneliness and despair, every character stuck in a world of their own, slowly consuming them until they clash with another one's world, bringing destruction for all parties.

Everything is created to make the audience feel like something is never quite right, as if every character's reality should be questioned.

I grew up in an isolated fishing village in Cornwall, England; where I was born. I had an interest in the performing arts when I was very young, studying stage acting and dancing for 8 years but gave it up after starting secondary school.

After feeling like I was trapped in Cornwall at around the age of 18, I fled to Scotland and studied Ethical Hacking at Abertay of Dundee University, before quitting after a year. I returned to Cornwall and started messing around with making short videos. After giving University another go, to study Business at Plymouth University, I moved to London once I graduated to seek a career in advertising to look for the opportunity to create TV adverts.

After a few years, I had realised I didn't want to make adverts, I wanted to make films.

 In 2020, the middle of lockdown, living alone, I felt I had a good story to tell and wrote my first short film script - The Man Behind The Machine. However I didn't get around to making the movie until 2022, because I started taking on editing roles for other people's short films.

In 2022, I put aside the editing, crowdfunded enough money to make the film and went ahead and directed The Man Behind the Machine, my very first time directing a film set (and my second time ever being on a film set).

I still reside in London and am now writing my first feature film, Amongst Crows - which I do around my day job of editing for a video production company.

Key Cast

Kamran Vahabi - "X33"

Robert Firth - "Martin"

Lydia Helen - "Xander"

William Bassoumba - "Suit"

Other Credits

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