Dan Gilroy turned in one of the most impressive directorial debuts in recent memory with Nightcrawler, and now the filmmaker has found his next project, as he’s set to write and direct the character-driven drama Faster, Cheaper, Better, which is said to explore our fully automated futures.
Deadline broke the news, reporting that the film will follow a wide variety of characters, including a union foreman, a young entrepreneur, an indoor farm executive and a tech billionaire. All of their lives are upended when automation and AI transform the world as we know it, forcing them to confront what it means to be human. The film spans 20 years in multiple locales, so this is a mighty ambitious project for Gilroy, who followed Nightcrawler with the Denzel Washington drama Roman J. Israel, Esq. and the bizarre horror movie-cum-art world satire Velvet Buzzsaw.
We’re already starting to see self-driving cars on the road, and soon the cross-country trucking industry will replace human drivers with robots, so this future isn’t as far as off as you might think. Jennifer Fox (Michael Clayton) is producing the film, which FilmNation Entertainment will introduce to foreign buyers at the upcoming virtual Cannes market. CAA Media Finance arranged the financing and will represent the film’s U.S. distribution rights.
“It’s a big multi-narrative film, set over two decades in multiple locales. We follow a group of inter-connected characters, as they deal with automation and AI changing their world, particularly the work world,” said Gilroy. “For example, right now at this moment, there are fully automated factories around the world where robots are literally making robots to replace people in an absolutely endless variety of jobs. Not just manufacturing and production jobs. I realized when I started doing the research that this is just the beginning of a transformational era we are about to enter into, where automation and AI are really the employment equivalent of climate change. And how utterly unprepared we are as people, and as a world, for what is coming. Every person on the planet is going to be affected by this, profoundly.”
Gilroy explained the benefits of a multi-narrative movie to Deadline. “When you are telling cross stories, you can tonally switch gears, you can capture different angles. It’s such a big event that’s coming that the only way I felt I could do it justice and now slow it down in a narrative way is if I connected the stories thematically, and have the characters connected in very interesting ways. There is the part of a union foreman, a representation of what could be and what’s worth fighting for. The character is a man with a cause. He believes in rights, he believes in fairness and he’s now facing the biggest fight of his life. There is a young entrepreneur, representative of a younger generation. There is a young female executive who works at a massive indoor farm. The other main role is a tech billionaire she has a relationship with, who has his own plot line. The film spans 20 years, so they are aging as we track them during the course of a large, sweeping time span and we’re following what happens to these characters as this automation train we are all on really starts accelerating.”
Gilroy said he intends to make a compelling movie about the way automation will affect our relationships and our sense of self. “Many of us, our identities are tied into our jobs. What we do is in many ways essential to our sense of selves. There is tremendous drama and conflict in that, even comedy in these changes,” said Gilroy. “It’s not a sad movie, or an elegy. It’s meant to be an interesting movie on an event we are going through and where the destination is really unknown.”
Gilroy may have missed the mark with Velvet Buzzsaw, but Nightcrawler remains one of my favorite thrillers, and the reason it works as well as it does is the writing. If Gilroy can create just one character to rival Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Lou Bloom, I have no doubt that Faster, Cheaper, Better will resonate with global audiences. Gilroy is currently casting the film now, and I can’t wait to see who he ropes in here, and whether Gyllenhaal will be among the ensemble.
Oddly enough, Nightcrawler is reportedly one of the inspirations for Ryan Gosling‘s new Wolfman project at Universal, so click here for more details on that monster movie.