British-Iranian actress Lara Heller has played the starring role in many movies. Now she has turned her hand to producing - as well as acting - with her new film Synth. The film explores artificial intelligence and how it is evolving. Jamie Walker spoke to her about the film and her desire to film another movie in her hometown of Brighton.

Tell us about your last year and what you’ve filmed?

I shot a movie called Throwback Holiday with Tri Destined Studios.

It’s a feel good movie about time travel that we shot in Los Angeles.

The chance of a “do over” is always a fun concept to play with.

We’ve also wrapped on a movie called Dally and Spanky that is another feel good movie about a pony and a small Jack Russell dog.

That was a blast and they were wonderful stars to team up with.

Then we have Synth, which is another project that I’ve just finished that explores artificial intelligence.

Tell me a bit about Synth. Why is artificial intelligence a subject you wanted to delve into?

The artificial intelligence gap is narrowing by the day.

Synth is inspired by Hanson Robotics creations.

This Hong Kong based company develops human like robots with artificial intelligence.

Their creation Sophia, based off Audrey Hepburn’s face, is the first AI in the world to receive citizenship.

Could we get to a point where AI rights are equal to human rights?

This was the springboard for Synth.

Our film explores the commercialization of AI.

We look at how humans and robots alike use self-awareness, manipulation, empathy and sexuality to communicate.

Our goal is to test an audience’s sympathies and challenge our preconceptions.

Coexistence has always struck an uncomfortable cord for us all- if Sophia has citizenship is she entitled to the same rights as the citizens in that country?

These are some of the areas we wanted to explore.

Tell us about your role in the film?

I play the role of a scientist called Anza.

She has dedicated her career to artificial intelligence and her goal is to build self-learning robots without the constraints of government.

Anza clashes with Dr Penrose (played by Michael Monks) who is the head of the company.

Synth explores the friction between scientists who want free reign in the world of AI and those who don’t.

Tell me about your cast and crew, what were they all like to work with? And did they live up to you expectations?

We had an awesome team on the shoot.

The film wouldn’t have been the same without the talent attached.

Michael Monks and Don Wallace were great fun to work with.

Our post-production team made this really exciting as well.

We have Eric Brodeur who edited Transformers and our colourist is Tom Reisner who coloured Fast and Furious and The Twilight Saga.

So many people are behind a movie and with the right people magic can happen.

The captain of our ship, directing, was Scott Wheeler.

Robert Murphy was our director of photography who put his stamp on it.

Everyone worked so hard and I’m very grateful to have worked with this team.

You’ve said you’re submitting it to film festivals, is that a nerve-wracking experience?

Yes, after the LA premiere, the film will do the festival circuit.

Festivals are actually pretty great - when you wrap you miss everyone.

Friendships develop fast and it’s sad when you all leave the country you were shooting in to go back home.

A festival or premiere is a wonderful way to bring everyone together again.

It’s also often the first time the cast and crew see the whole movie-so in that respect it is nerve wracking.

We premiered Troy The Odyssey at Paramount Studios and that was the first time we had all seen it.

Where else will people be able to see Synth?

The film will be released on TV in Brighton later this year and we are talking to stations for US distribution.

You’ve mentioned that you’d like to make a film in Brighton, why is that? What is it about the city that makes it the ideal place to set a movie?

Brighton is a stunning city that is under represented when it comes to shoots.

The seaside town and old Edwardian and Victorian buildings gives it a real charm.

The city is a character in itself for a story.

Not to mention the green hills and forests that surrounds the city.

I hope to make a movie there in the future.

Why are you excited for people to see SYNTH?

Synth explores how our instincts about consciousness can change as we develop friendships with artificial intelligence.

And that is closer than we think.

The film also looks at the darker aspects of the commercialization of AI robots.

Our writer Ryan C Coleman, who wrote on The Walking Dead, looks at all these different view points.