The Secret Lives of Robots

Calgary 2008, 7:00 min, Dir: Michael Peterson

If this film ever achieves cult status, the phrase “Does your robot dance?” could very well be catapulted into common parlance in nightclubs everywhere. The Secret Lives of Robots turns the machines-take-over-the-world sub-genre on its head: it feels like it’s referencing the romantic teen comedies of the 80s to warn us that technology may not so much outsmart as out-feel us. Maybe that partially explains the black and white treatment and the imaginative use of cardboard and furnace ducts in place of the moulded plastic and fiberglass and CGI we’ve come to expect from ILM and its ilk. But the low production values serve the high concept with a handmade charm that makes us root for the human spark inside every robot.

Michael Peterson is an award-winning filmmaker who lives and works out of Calgary, Alberta. He has a Master of Arts in Documentary Film Theory and Production from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, where he completed a documentary about the first American combat group to enter WWII, Robinson’s Red Raiders: the Story of the 22nd. He then won an internship with director Ridley Scott’s development company, Scott Free Productions. Since then his work has included documentary and fiction films, commercials and music videos that have played and won awards at various national and international film festivals. He’s most proud of the AMPIAs he won for PSAs for the Humane Society (2007) and the Calgary Drop in Centre (2008). His next project is a feature length comedy. Oh, and this is his fourth short film about robots – with more to come, as he makes one every year.