Are Sci-Fi Short Films the Medium You’re Missing Out On?
Short films changed my life.
Okay, so maybe they didn’t change my life in any grand, significant way, but I do wonder why it took me so long to appreciate them. I guess I thought short films were amateurish or pretentious, or maybe I just never bothered to watch any good ones. In any case, it was a sci-fi short film called Wanderers that finally opened my mind to the medium.
Since then, I’ve learned to love these minute masterpieces because they are incredibly versatile. Short films are free to do so much that feature-length films just aren’t cut out for. Naturally, the reverse is also true, but that just means both methods of making movies are worthwhile. I could keep rambling on, but since we’re talking about visual art here, it would probably make better sense to do more showing and less telling.
Let Me Introduce You to Five Awesome Sci-Fi Short Films You Can Watch in the Next 30 Minutes
Oh, and if you have the time, do yourself a favor and watch these films before bothering to read what I have to say about them. As much as I enjoy pretending to be eloquent, nothing I can say will be as poignant as the films themselves.
Sci-Fi Short Films – Wanderers
Ok, so Wanderers is not really a “movie” in the traditional sense. Still, it’s a powerful piece of moving art, and it gives me chill bumps every time I watch it. Some people imagine that future astronauts (like those hoping to be a part of Mars One) will inevitably be unhappy people – either unhappy enough to leave Earth forever, or unhappy later when they realize they can’t come back to a home that is the same (or perhaps come back at all). In my opinion, Wanderers says otherwise. It paints a portrait of melancholia and isolation, to be sure, but also of incredible excitement and unparalleled adventure.
It looks like 2017 will be the year time travel makes a comeback. I mentioned the recent popularity of the time travel genre in books, but it appears to be bleeding into movies and television as well.
This is the first of a series of 5 articles letting you know what cool sci-fi stuff is coming out in the next year, so check out the biggest, baddest, most awesome sci-fi films you can expect next year!
Sci-Fi Short Films – The Device
Wanderers has no dialogue, and I count two words being spoken in The Device. Clearly, not so much is at stake in the way of the written word when it comes to making sci-fi short films. Yet, for all its brevity and economy, The Device is crystal clear in terms of what happens. What’s more, it leaves nothing left to be said. It’s a whole story – emotional, gripping, unpredictable, and with at least as much closure as most films – all in under four minutes.
Sci-Fi Short Films – Therefore I Am
There are a lot of movies about time travel and alternate/infinite realities out there, so I can’t say this with complete confidence, but I think Therefore I Am gives us something new. Even if I’m wrong (happens all the time), there’s still a lot to like about this film. The cinematography is very professional, the acting is top-notch, and the premise is extremely intriguing, leaving you hungry more of the story. Yes, there are a lot of unanswered questions at the end of these few minutes, but when you get down to it, the same can be said for most films that deal in the paradoxical (for example, I just watched Coherence the other night, and as entertaining as it is, it leaves things pretty unresolved).
Sci-Fi Short Films – Cargo
You know, I enjoyed quite a few episodes (most of the entire seasons 1 and 2, in fact) of The Walking Dead. The thing is, TWD basically has two power punches – action and emotion – that never get any more powerful than they were to begin with. Now, in fairness, Cargo might not be as easy to appreciate if we had never seen TWD, and even seems like it could be a teaser for a spin-off. But with that said, Cargo stirs up more emotion and anticipation for me in four minutes than I think I felt during seasons 3-6 of TWD combined.
Sci-Fi Short Films – True Skin
True Skin doesn’t go anywhere that plenty of other sci-fi movies haven’t already (Surrogates comes readily to mind), but that doesn’t stop it from being highly entertaining in its own way. In terms of story, this is probably my least favorite film on this list, but the photography and CG really drew me into it. Luckily, the story may get another shot, since Amazon Studios has picked up the TV rights for True Skin.
Acclaimed Sci-Fi short True Skin, by Stephan Zlotescu, is being adapted into a one-hour series, in partnership with Amazon Studios, best known for The Man in the High Castle and Mozart in the Jungle. Although the rights previously belonged to Warner Bros, who were set to adapt the short film into a feature-length movie, the rights lapsed and Amazon Studios jumped at the opportunity to acquire the rights. Attached to the series [Click here to read more…]
There are undoubtedly dozens of other sci-fi short films that deserve some recognition. These just happen to be a few of the best that I’ve seen. If there’s one reason to really be excited about the short film medium, I would say it’s because the movies tend to be so…short. Sorry if you were hoping for something profound there.
But really, even when they stretch into the 20-minute zone, we’re talking about a small fraction of the time it takes to watch a full feature-length film. Heck, it probably takes most of us longer to read all the words on this page than it does to watch any of the films listed above.
So, moral of the story? If you’re someone who has a tight schedule, or someone who feels guilty or cheated after spending two hours watching a mediocre movie, maybe you should give short films some love. After all, the films in this article are evidence enough that length isn’t a prerequisite for poignancy.
Featured Image: Wanderers / Erik Wernquist