Alex Garland's film career began when his debut novel, The Beach, caught the eye of director Danny Boyle (Trance) in 2000. Since then, Garland has gone on to build a respectable career as a screenwriter, having penned the scripts for films such as Never Let Me Go, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and the criminally under-watched Dredd.
Like many other craftsmen in the film industry, it looks as if Garland is hoping to expand from screenwriting into outright directing. Word has spread that he is looking to cut his directorial teeth on an indie-budgeted science-fiction film called Ex Machina.
The Hollywood Reporter shares the announcement that Alex Garland has signed on to both write and direct Ex Machina. The movie will be produced by DNA Films – the same production company behind many of Garland's previous writing projects, including Dredd. Ex Machina will have a comparatively tiny budget for a science-fiction project (no more than $15 million), so there's little doubt that this will be a film low on effects and heavy with an indie vibe.
Ex Machina will apparently follow the promising young employee of a billionaire tech maven, who is hand-picked to join his boss for a week-long vacation at a private villa. Little does our protagonist know, his employer wants him to join in an experiment involving a prototype AI robot. Since the film is being billed as a thriller, it's doubtful that the robot and employee will fall in love and/or trade witty banter.
It should be noted that Garland's Ex Machina is not to be confused with the Brian K. Vaughan-penned comic book series of the same name. The film rights for that property were sold back in the early 2000s, but it's looking more and more unlikely that its odd blend of superhero story and political drama will ever make it to the silver screen.
With no prior directing experience under his belt, it's difficult to say whether Garland will be able to successfully jump from crafting screen stories from a laptop to doing so from behind a camera. A small, cerebral thriller with a limited budget is probably the best way to dip his toe into the proverbial pool.
What's slightly more certain is that Ex Machina's story will at the very least be fairly interesting. Garland has a more-than-decent track record when it comes to scripts, having crafted some genuinely compelling plots and characters over the years. One has to wonder whether we'll see more of the lean, taut script style of Dredd or the fascinating-but-disjointed weirdness of Sunshine.
Ex Machina will begin filming this fall. It does not have a set release date.