Can Deepfake Technology Eliminate the Need for Movie Reshoots?

Lionsgate recently used the tech to remove 30 f-bombs from "Fall" and lower its rating

A scene from "Fall"
A scene from "Fall"

If you were dangling precariously from the top of an abandoned 2,000-foot-tall radio tower, you might let a few choice words fly. But in Lionsgate’s forthcoming Fall, while the lead characters find themselves in that exact scenario, they’re now largely limited to tame euphemisms like “freaking” thanks to deepfake technology.

As Variety reports, the movie centers around “best friends Becky (Grace Caroline Currey) and Hunter (Virginia Gardner), [who] climb an abandoned radio tower to scatter the ashes of Becky’s late husband (Gooding). But when sections of the rickety ladder break off from the dilapidated tower, Becky and Hunter are left stranded. The women’s expert climbing skills — and their friendship — are put to the ultimate test as they wage a desperate fight to survive the elements, vulture attacks and a lack of supplies to get off the tower alive.” The original cut of the film featured the women understandably dropping many f-bombs as they struggle to make it out alive, but when Lionsgate wanted to change the film’s R rating to a more marketable PG-13, they removed the swears using deepfake technology.

Director Scott Mann’s film had a relatively small budget of $3 million, meaning reshooting the dialogue would have been too costly and time-consuming, so he turned to the artificial-intelligence dubbing technology system from London-based Flawless, a company for which he also serves as co-CEO.

“For a movie like this, we can’t reshoot it,” Mann said. “We’re not a big tentpole… we don’t have the resources, we don’t have the time, more than anything else. What really saved this movie and brought it into a wider audience was technology.”

“When we were filming the movie, we didn’t know if we were R or if we were PG-13, so I said the F-word so many times I think Scott wanted to kill me in post when we were trying to get a PG-13 rating,” Gardner told Variety. Meanwhile, Currey insisted she couldn’t tell which of her scenes had been redubbed: “As far as I know, every movement my mouth made in that movie, my mouth made,” she said.

If the deepfakes in Fall are really as seamless as they claim, we could be seeing more of it as an alternative to expensive reshoots. We’ll be able to see for ourselves when Fall hits theaters on Aug. 12.

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