Films are more popular than ever before. More films are released every day than used to be released in an entire year, and with camera’s available to nearly everyone on the planet, anyone can make films if they want to. Also, now with websites such as YouTube and Vimeo, these films have platforms upon which to reach audiences from all walks of life across the world.
Surprisingly, many short films (as these are obviously the easiest and cheapest to create) are spectacular – breaking cinematic rules, pushing boundaries and limits, and even innovating new techniques that veteran blockbuster filmmakers go on to use years down the line. If the future of film lies anywhere, it’s on these online platforms and in the hands of independent filmmakers – eventually the very audience itself – and these short films come pretty close. Here are 6 Sci-Fi short films available on YouTube that you simply must watch.
The directorial début of Teddy Cecil and Shadow Council Productions’s first complete inhouse production, Helio is a Dystopian Sci-Fi film that won over 50 awards at the San Diego Comic Con in 2016. It follows a miner as he’s unwittingly drawn into the conflict between the “resistance” and the government’s “council of security” after the apparent death of his son.
On the run, the miner inspires the other workers and people living in the dystopian regime to follow suit and rebel. Featuring rocket boots, futuristic gadgets, a city similar to that of the one in the Matrix as well as one reminiscent of the one in the latest Divergent film, and interesting, poignant social commentary, Helio is an amazing film that keeps you entertained and glued to your screen despite the lack of dialogue for a surprising and satisfying ending that leaves you wanting more.
The New Politics
Written, directed, and produced by Joshua Wong, The New Politics is a special effects heavy film that clocks in under 6 minutes in length. It follows two very different women as they go about their days preparing for an event/battle in an arena of some kind – one woman representing America, and the other representing China – the deciding battle of some sort of war for planetary control. The cinematography is excellent, and the music adds a tremendous boost to the already amazing film. The plot is intriguing despite the lack of dialogue, each woman seemingly characterised as the representation of their country’s ideals, and the hilarious plot twist at the end of the film makes it all worthwhile.
Written and directed by Alejandro Suarez Lozano, The Fisherman won 35 awards and was selected for nearly 200 film festivals around the world. It follows a struggling fisherman named Mr. Wong in search of way to regain his lost livelihood – catching squid. Standing in his way is the changing world, one in which there are hardly any parts of the sea free from human influence. One day, pushed to the limits of his patience, he sets out further than usual only for strange weather to alert him to an even stranger alien creature. He catches the alien, imagining his fame, only for the mother to arrive and seek revenge. The film deals with very real issues for most of it’s runtime, leading up to a surprise ending that balances the built-up humour with an ominous sense of dread and foreboding. The film is so good it’s serving as the inspiration for a full-length feature film called Mogwai.
Created by a team of two people over a period of two years (Aleksei Shulga and Mihhail Kohtov), Autonomous follows a quadrupedal robot as it scouts the barren desert-like wasteland of a war-torn planet. The world and rich history created by the film in it’s under-four minute runtime is impressive, especially considering that not one word is spoken, heard, or read (besides the title). We intrinsically understand what the main robot is doing and seeking, and at the end it’s revealed for whom. There is so much story contained within this short film that it’s quite surprising the creators managed to pull it off. It’s a great example of exposition and subtext done right, and any aspiring or existing filmmakers should take the lessons this film has taught and use them to usher in a new era of filmmaking.
Written and directed by Willem Kampenhout, and made as a capstone project at Brigham Young University, The Surface is a post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi film in which humans have been forced to live underground out of fear of monsters known as the “tainted” – in fact just humans that have been turned into cyborgs. The world revolves around power-cells, which a woman needs to get for her son due to him having mechanical lungs. Unfortunately, the power-cells underground are running out, and don’t last, whereas the power-cells powering the “tainted” last forever. This forces the woman to venture above ground to try and acquire one of these fabled power-cells. The film is a good commentary on human nature, posing many interesting questions and ideas about acceptance, desperation, fear, intolerance, greed, and even love.
A film written, directed, and animated by Kaleb Lechowski, R’ha is entirely animated, but is extremely realistic. The film follows an alien being being interrogated by a machine-like species of aliens. Angered and motivated to rescue his people after learning that they are threatened, the R’ha alien escapes captivity and sets a course for home. However, it is revealed in the final moments of the film that the machine planned this all along and the alien is unwittingly dooming his people instead of saving them. Attesting to the film’s greatness is the fact that the former head of LucasFilm is producing a full-length feature film adaptation of the short, potentially allowing Kaleb Lechowski to follow a similar path to Neil Blomkamp, who also created a short film – Alive in Joburg – before his career being launched by Peter Jackson and the film District 9.