Technology is a double-edged sword. It was designed to improve humanity's lot by making our lives easier, and in many ways it has – just look at advances in medical technology or even your smart phone, how many devices did it replace all in one mini computer in your pocket?

Technology also has enabled the worst drives of humanity. Tragedies like the Holocaust and devices like the Atomic Bomb are unequivocal proof of that. Still with certain other types of technology, we are not yet sure of the scope of the impact on humanity as a whole. For instance, we simply do not know enough yet – scientifically speaking – to say how damaging social media really can be or whether too much screen time will always turn people into head cases. We're getting closer to understanding, but the science is anything but settled.

Still, the questions entailed in looking at this issue are also quintessentially existential. Director Princeton Holt's thoughtful, romantic, sci-fi, satire 2050 tackles these issues from that very human direction. In it, Dean Cain plays Maxwell, a purveyor of perfectly obedient and submissive sex robots who gets his claws into struggling family man Michael Greene (played by 2050 producer and co-writer David Vaughn).

Michael was seduced by Maxwell's sex robot parlor precisely because of what is being offered: perfect obedience without him having to put forth any effort of his own. All of the upside, seemingly none of the down. But is a relationship with one of Maxwell's robots – specifically Quin, played by creative force of nature, artist, musician, emcee, model, actress, producer, writer, and director Stormi Maya (She's Gotta Have It Season 2) – enough to displace anything human? What does that question and its implications have to say about the human condition and our growing technological dependencies?

2050 probes all these questions in a smart, thought-provoking, and elegant way – while not mincing on the satirical side of its essence as a film. Check out the film's website here for release information as it makes its way on the theater circuit this spring. Also, enjoy the separate interviews below with Stormi Maya and David Vaughn.

David Vaughn as Michael Greene in this still from 2050.

Stormi Maya as Quin in this still from 2050.

Stormi Maya

Hello Stormi and welcome to The 405! To start things off, what initially attracted you to 2050?

When I saw the casting the concept instantly intrigued me. To play a robot was something I'd never thought I play and it was a challenge that excited me. I am always attracted to super unique and creative things.

You did it very well, 2050 was intriguing to watch in no small part because of your contribution. What was it like getting into the head space of Quin?

It was crazy to play Quin because in acting you're supposed to have emotion and be relatable. Quin is not human so I had to have no emotions and act extremely non-human.

That's interesting and actually gets into a related question I had: what were the other challenges like?

It was interesting to go into a state of no emotion and to act like I didn't understand certain human problems and emotions. It was fun though.

That's fantastic. Any funny or memorable moments that stick out from the process of filming?

The sex scenes were very new to everyone – it was the director's first one and for myself and the other actor, so it was a little awkward and new, but everyone was extremely professional and respectful. Also our lunches and breaks were amazing: it was full of laughter, jokes and great stories. We really bonded.

Interesting. Those scenes do arguably form a lot of the core of what 2050's story is, with its tremendous social commentary on technology, dependence, and relationships. What do you hope audiences will take away with them from the film?

The film is a satire of how we are so dependent on technology that we are losing human connections and I hope people grasp that.

Me too. The message is very timely with all the new findings science has on the effects of technologies like social media on humanity.

Stormi Maya. Pic courtesy of Stormi Maya.

Switching gears a bit, to a question I put to most everybody: what films, directors, actors and/or performances have shaped you as an artist?

I love Pam Grier because she’s a strong black woman who embraces her sexuality and sexual power… I am inspired by Eartha Kitt – she was extremely intelligent, knowing multiple languages and holding many talents. I also admire her energy, she was sassy, strong and someone you could not push over.

Pam Grier and Eartha Kitt are fantastic. I loved Grier especially in Tarantino’s Jackie Brown and, of course, her earlier work like Foxy Brown. She has a presence about her, an x factor, which you also have Stormi. You are insanely multi-talented: model, actress, writer, director, musician, a theatre background. Any advice for people out there? How do you balance all those things so well?

I believe in having no regrets in life, I want to do everything my heart desires and everyone should try doing that in life at least once before dying. The key to balancing many things is to do them stress free, have moments where you focus all your energy on one skill and build on it; also, truly love and enjoy what you do and it will not feel like work . My talents and skills over all are all related – it's art. That's why it's easy for me to transition back and forth. If your various careers are related or similar you can easily work on them simultaneously.

I have great respect for people with the boldness and ability to do that. Speaking of art, what artists and works of any discipline or media have really influenced you?

Spike Lee is a huge influence – his talent, dedication and drive. I was blessed to work with him on SGHI2. I'm also a huge fan of Frida Kahlo; I love her feminism, her rebellious spirit and her rawness.

Spike is great – so is Frida, I'm a big fan of the symbolism and surrealism of her work.

It saddens me BlacKkKlansman didn't get Best Picture when it clearly deserved it. Not just because of its message either – it was great entertainment, a compellingly-told good versus evil story with Sgt. Stallworth versus the Klan, I thought. Those are things that to me define a truly great film – it has to be entertaining and suck you in.

Which naturally leads to our next question, what makes a great film?

Rawness. The art being valued over the commercial. I like films that make me feel like I'm truly there. Draw me in.

Me too. If I can't suspend my disbelief and forget I'm watching a movie, I'm done. Might as well turn it off. With 2050 I had no trouble getting lost in the film because the story, acting, and satirical value were all strong.

Our last question Stormi, what's next for you? Will we be seeing more directing and writing from you? Cattle: The Cult was interesting to say the least, but it felt like it's an idea that needs more exploring in perhaps a feature film.

I am a rapper /emcee so I’m focusing a lot on my music now and going on tour soon, performing all over the world. She's Gotta Have It season two is coming in the summer and you'll see me on the Netflix screen as Yennifer Clemente. I'm always filming and you'll definitely see more movies of mine soon.

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Stormi's socials can all be found at the links here: Instagram, Twitter, music YouTube channel, other YouTube channel, Facebook. Head over to her website here to see the full version of her short film Cattle: The Cult after checking out the trailer below along with the music video to her song "STFU" in her Instagram post embedded below.

CATTLE: THE CULT (2018) trailer.

Still from 2050.

David Vaughn

Hello David and welcome to The 405! To start things off, what attracted you to 2050 and initially inspired you on the project? I know you are one of the credited writers and a producer in addition to lead actor.

What initially sparked this project was simply a need to produce a genre movie that was marketable. The idea itself came from an article that Princeton [Holt] read and subsequently sent to Brian [Ackley] and myself. It made the claim that by the year 2050 humans and robots would be in fully functioning romantic relationships.

Interesting.

All we had to do then was imagine what that world would look like. While it was a collaborative effort in creating the story, Brian did a fantastic job of actually writing the script. For me the biggest attraction to 2050 was the opportunity to not only be a lead on the project but to also produce at the same time. My inspiration came from my love of the genre, and Princeton's continuous enthusiasm for pushing creative limits on a budget. I wouldn't have been able to do what I did without his constant reminder that we are in this to create and not to settle.

Love that ethos, "low budget high concept." What was your individual and the collective creative process like as the film was being written?

It was a very collaborative effort. We would brainstorm about the story, characters, relationships, etc then Brian would put it into writing. After he had a draft ready, we would all read it, and start the process over again until we had a story that we all agreed was ready to produce. It wasn't easy. The three of us have very different tastes and styles, so I believe that what we ended up with is the most universal version that we could have made.

Awesome when those things click. What were the other challenges like?

Like all indie movies, we had many challenges to overcome. There were time constraints, budgetary deficits, locations falling through at the last minute, talent pulling out at the last minute – if it could go wrong it did. Murphy's Law was in full effect.

That sucks David. But yeah these things do tend to happen with film generally.

On the other hand we had amazing friends and support staff who worked their asses off to make sure that we would always land on our feet. Princeton and I would always be up until 2 or 3 AM after shooting trying to lock down locations for the following day, or finding an actor, or reworking a scene, or going over dailies. It was like being in a pressure cooker and trying to stay in character at the same time.

I love hearing about that kind of perseverance. What was it like getting in that head space of Michael Greene?

Becoming Michael Greene was easy. He and I are very similar. The challenge was staying in that head space and producing at the same time. There were a lot of days when I was literally running back and forth between takes because we didn't have an art department or costume department, or a script supervisor, so I was wearing a lot of hats at the same time.

Wow, yeah, I bet. Not too often I get to talk to someone wearing as many hats as you did.

Still from 2050.

Any funny or memorable moments which stick out from behind the scenes during filming?

There are, but you'll have to wait and hear them on the director's cut with commentary. I give all the secrets away!

[Laughs] fair enough. What do you hope people will take from 2050? It was – I thought – very funny with some pointed observations about relationships but sad at the same time as we see the effects of the robots. At any rate, quite a few existential questions were posed and answered eloquently.

Well, the eMates didn’t affect everyone negatively. That’s the takeaway. I want people to see that happiness is different for everyone. The process to find what that happiness looks like can be painful, but it’s necessary. To me the eMates are a metaphor for whatever it is that brings you happiness. I hope people’s minds are opened a little, and they see that just because they believe something is right, it doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.

GREAT takeaway. Switching gears to a question I ask everybody: what films, directors, actors, and/or particular performances have shaped and molded you as an artist?

Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Wes Anderson, P.T. Anderson, Lars von Trier, the Coen brothers, Tony Kaye, Darren Aronofsky, Martin Scorsese, to name a few directors. De Niro in Taxi Driver, Hoffman in The Graduate and Midnight Cowboy, Nicholson in The Shining, Hopkins in everything he's ever done… the actor list could go on forever. As for films that have influenced me, there's a litany of them.

Yeah, it's a big question by nature. What makes a great film?

A story that moves people, filmed in a way that keeps them interested, by a team that cares about making the best possible work.

I like that. Great, succinct, to the point.

Dean Cain as Maxwell in this still from 2050.

Our last question, will we be seeing more from you as a director and writer? What’s next for you?

Absolutely you will be seeing more of me as a writer/director. Currently I'm working on a movie franchise. I've written the first screenplay and have the next four in development.

Follow David Vaughn on Twitter here.

2050 (2018) trailer.