AI-Black: It’s not what you thought, but it’s happening all the same.
How can AI assist documentary makers and factual filmmakers tell rich but previously inert stories? Here’s a case presented to the British Screen Forum which is “where the best informed and most influential people in the UK screen sectors convene to interrogate issues of importance and influence”
A 25-year-old policeman in Kumasi, the Gold Coast (Ghana), wins a scholarship in 1955 to study in the UK. He’s excited eyeing up opportunities.
But he is also nervous. He has never been to England before and he doesn’t know what to expect. On arrival he’s faced with several problems and soon is literally drowning in challenges. London is very different.
Racism, the colour bar, he struggles and looks to a new career. He starts a family with his new wife who joins him from Ghana. Their children find themselves in and out of foster care. He develops a reputation for being Mr fixer in South London.
Eventually, London takes its toll and he returns with his children to Ghana. There, he’s courted by politicians and CEOs and is affecionately called Chairman — a recognisable phrase of endearment across West Africa . He will face fresh problems with Flt Lt Jerry Rawling’s coup d’état in 1979 (Click here chilling audio ).
A recently discovered cache of letters, correspondence and this mind boggling passport he kept in a suitcase reveal a colourful life; that he travelled to the UK on a Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKC) passport that classified him as a British subject and eventually in 1983 as a citizen.
The hypothesis is how AI impacts factual storytelling and what are its limitations and challenges, ethically and professionally, towards audiences in general and a new industry in particularly?
By 2030 such an enquiry may be a moot point given Gen AI’s increasing use. Can Gen AI ethically substitute real photographic and audio/video archive? And what manner of evidential research accords the language, as well as the use of existing real visual markers in the expanding linguistics of “prompts”. Furthemore, what guardrails and ethical guidelines are required?
I’m Journalist, academic and filmmaker David Dunkley Gyimah behind this personal biopic of my father. It points to the dearth of personal narratives of Africans, Ghanaians, who went through extraordinary ordeals.
This story although unique is allegorical of many West Africans who travelled to the UK and returned.
Today, Brits of African origin are the largest Black group in the UK and many of their rich stories remain untold. Could AI play a role, pedagogical too in historical factual storytelling predicated on practices such as the 1900s artist-painter as newsmaker.
Fifty percent of the Chairman promo trailer, as well as the poster image above is AI generated. Is the slogan “If you can IA it” (Imagine ‘appening), he says “you can AI it ?”
I’m working with other academics. The feedback has been overwhelming and several readers are looking to creating their own stories. Ai in storytelling is set to be as disruptive as it will be creative.
If you’re an academic or hosting an event, or a commissioner and would like to know more please get in touch. If you’re able to sponsor and would like to be attached to the completion of this project please get in touch here firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter x @viewmagazine
Think of the Chairman as a real but different life version of BBC’s popular series “Luther” with actor Idris Elba, in the 1950s .