Shreyas Kulkarni

Ad exec Karunasagar Sridharan creates short film in two weeks using Midjourney for the first time

He, an Ogilvy ECD, gives us the details behind his dystopian short flick ‘Bad Seed’.

What once took a couple of weeks or even months, a crew of technicians, and capital to boot, is today accomplished with a mere computer screen, zero budget, and a few prompts—a short film.

Generative artificial intelligence has deepened the democratisation of technology to levels where it took Ogilvy executive creative director Karunasagar Sridharan only two weeks to make Bad Seed.

It is a dystopian short film where the protagonist questions his existence to the point where he realises he is just an incorrect prompt and that God is not a divine benevolent power; instead, they are entities using their version of Gen AI to generate human beings.

“I wrote the story in an hour. While writing, it opened to themes of God, us being in a simulation, and I started to get into it,” reveals Sridharan on how the idea of Bad Seed came to him.

Nearly seven minutes long, Bad Seed has clocked 22 thousand views in three weeks on YouTube, and as per his LinkedIn post, “It goes viral in some Reddit community and gets shared 600 times within 3 hours of uploading, reaching half a million people.”'

What is most noteworthy and eyebrow-raising about the film’s making is that Sridharan had never used Midjourney – an image-generating AI tool – before Bad Seed, or Gen AI tools, for that matter. “I had only played around a bit with Stable Diffusion,” he confesses.

From the day he wrote the script, the first edit was ready in six days. He did it while attending to his day job. Director Yashaswini Nath—married to Sridharan—helped him chisel the short film and voiced the female god character. The second week was spent polishing the short film.

Karunasagar Sridharan
Karunasagar Sridharan

Reading this can make one feel AI is a magic wand of sorts, but he does not share the same opinion. He says creative people look at generative AI as a tool similar to the ones they use at work—it will give them what they want.

“It is not. Working with AI is like working with a moody, cranky, alcoholic creative partner,” he remarks.

And because he did not exactly get what he had in mind with Gen AI, “I changed the story to what AI had given me. Gen AI is a very talented collaborator with a bad drinking problem.”

In his LinkedIn post, Sridharan wrote: “… the audience is changing so fast that what studios think the audience wants will always be off by a decade. So maybe it's time to stop waiting for studios to greenlight anything.”

When asked to explain his words, he spoke about his observation of studios jumping on a trend. “Say, right now, the horror comedy genre is popular. Studios will greenlight it but by the time the movie comes out, people are bored of the genre.”

Gen AI, he says, brings down the timeline of creating such works by an “insane level, and creators can make movies themselves rather than depend on studios.”

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