“Content Farm” is a bit creepy and charming at the same time.
The sketch comedy show made using Artificial Intelligence deepfake comes from performers Alaine Hutton (from Hamilton) and Lauren Gillis (from Scarborough). It is based in the world of the internet and features a content creator trying to best the algorithm where “nothing is original and clicks are king.”
The three short episodes of under 20 minutes, now showing on CBC Gem, show things like a deep fake reality show, three dogs taking a coffee break (with melting faces) and an online teleshow chasing identity theft scandals. Judith — the content creator — creates a deep fake identity, Jessica, to try and outsmart the algorithm, but Jessica rapidly gains a following and goes viral.
Hutton admits to finding one part creepy — scenes where she is doing the acting, but it is Gillis’ face on top of her body. But, there are parts of the show that make you smile.
CBC Gem bills the show as “speculative fiction meets cringe comedy unfolding in the doom scroll.”
If AI can create a fake Drake and an unreal Weeknd — as it has done in the past few months — it was probably inevitable it would make its way into sketch comedy.
Gillis says she and Hutton don’t mind the cringe description because they want people to have a reaction from the show.
“We have a saying — comedy is pain plus rhythm,” she says.
The pair received funding for the show in 2021 from CBC Radio/Canada Council for the Arts. It was one of eight projects approved as part of its Creation Accelerator and it described “Content Farm” as a playful critique of “our relationship to social media and the internet. Fusing absurdist comedy and avant-garde mashup aesthetics, this series delivers an eerily plausible dystopia.”
A content farm is a firm that employs a large number of freelance writers to generate a large amount of web content to satisfy algorithms for retrieval by automated search engines known as SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Hutton and Gillis are seasoned performers in Toronto. They have been co-artistic directors of the Lester Trips Theatre since 2011. They received two Dora Award nominations (Outstanding New Play, Outstanding Ensemble) for their play “Mr. Truth” in 2018.
Hutton grew up on the west Mountain and attended Westdale Secondary School. She attended the University of Toronto between 2005-2009 where she obtained a degree in Theatre and Cinema. She was also a top-notch basketball player.
The pair got the idea for the show after seeing comedian and director Jordan Peele do an AI deepfake program featuring president Barack Obama.
They are pleased with how the show turned out, “I’m excited to share this with my Hamilton friends and family,” says Hutton.
Hamilton and Milton have played host to the new Netflix thriller “The Madness.”
The eight-episode series starring Emmy winner Colman Domingo (“Fear the Walking Dead”) is about a media pundit who must fight for his life, and clear his name, after he stumbles upon a murder deep in the Poconos woods. He also strives to reconnect with his estranged family. Domingo won an Emmy for his guest star role in HBO’s “Euphoria.”
“The Madness” filmed April 15-16 at the Milton Sports Centre on Derry Road West. It then moved to Hamilton and, on April 18, it filmed scenes inside and outside a home on Clyde Street, near Cannon Street East. On April 19, it shot scenes inside and outside a home on St. Clair Boulevard, near Cumberland Avenue.
The show is produced by The Chernin Group, which was behind “Slumberland “ starring Jason Momoa. It filmed scenes in Hamilton in 2021.
“The Madness” is a fresh take on the conspiracy thriller — turning the genre on its head with its multi-layered characters, propulsive action and swift pace,” Peter Friedlandder, vice-president of scripted series, Netflix, U.S. and Canada, said in a statement.
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