"Brace for impact!" Strap in and get ready. Netflix has unleashed a feast of 18 different "NSFW" sci-fi short films as part of an anthology series titled Love, Death & Robots (or also just Love Death + Robots). Produced by Tim Miller (of Blur Studio) and David Fincher, this series is a bit like "Black Mirror" meets "Heavy Metal", with different writers/directors taking on each short film. And each one is just as different as the next, presenting alternate histories, robots, aliens, werewolves, A.I., and much more. This project came out of nowhere - or at least they didn't announce it publicly in advance. And yet, it is already here! Netflix just released Love, Death & Robots (all 18 shorts) on their service today. If any of these look good, just open up and watch. The shorts range from 5 to 17 minutes in length, and were made by various studios, directors, and talent (full list on Wikipedia). As a big sci-fi geek, I cannot wait to watch these. They all look awesome.
"I am the only man on Earth today who can achieve this wonder." Whoa - this is cool. The Tesla World Light is a short film produced by the National Film Board of Canada, which initially premiered at festivals in 2017. It's now available online to watch and it's seriously mesmerizing. Canadian filmmaker Matthew Rankin and his production designer Dany Boivin built hand-operated rigs to animate this video using light painting, to tell Tesla's story with light itself. "The idea is to tell the story using an abstract visual language." Nikola Tesla was one the premiere inventors of the 19th and 20th centuries. His most grandiose invention was the World System at Wardenclyffe Tower, which was intended to provide free and unlimited power to everyone on the planet. Once his benefactor J.P. Morgan realized there was no profit to be made in Tesla's vision of free energy, however, he pulled his funding. Very sad story. This is a terrific short! Watch it below.
"There's something in here! You gotta get us out!" To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Ridley Scott's Alien, first released in May of 1979, 20th Century Fox has produced a series of six new sci-fi short films that will be released each week beginning at the end of this month. Set in the cinematic "Alien Universe" (as it's now being called), Fox partnered with crowdsourced studio Tongal and took submissions from fans who were interested in creating their own Alien shorts. They received over 550 entries, and only six lucky filmmakers were chosen to bring their stories to life. These shorts will be debuting online via IGN as part of their 40th anniversary festivities, so get ready. For now this teaser gives us just a tiny taste of the shorts and they look pretty damn impressive. All of them seem to be a bit more polished than your average fan film. Take a peek.
"Wild forest, birds, trees, and wind." This short film is going to give you some serious chills. Blackwood is a new horror short film from Australia, made by production studio The Pixel Kitchen based in Melbourne, written and directed by filmmaker Andrew Montague. The short follows a sound recordist named Nikki, who tries to discover the source of a mysterious sound whilst she is out recording on location in a forest. Just watch without knowing anything else. Starring Danielle Butlin as Nikki. This is a clever concept for a short, and it's an impressively scary film, pulling off some real chills without much. This is definitely worth a watch. Also a reminder - Blackwood is a sound driven horror film, so headphones are highly recommended.
"Madness? How about wellness." It's time for the new Spike Jonze joint! Though it isn't a new feature film. The New Normal is a two-minute short film directed by Spike Jonze (director of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Where the Wild Things Are, and Her), starring Jesse Williams, made entirely to promote the legalization of marijuana in the United States. The short was produced as a marketing video for MedMen, a cannabis company with dispensaries all around America selling their "premium" products. Nonetheless, it presents a compelling case for legalization by pointing out how it was normal to grow hemp (aka cannabis) in the days of George Washington, plus how propaganda and the "war on drugs" has not helped solve any problems, just make them worse. But most of all, it is stil a new Spike Jonze film we can all enjoy right now.
Meet Penny and Cola. This short film rules!! The Worst Planet On Earth is a funky new sci-fi + fantasy + comedy short film from the Stas Brothers, better known as Joe Stas & Lloyd Stas. Ever since featuring their horror short Spooky Club a few years ago, they've been developing new projects with none other than Sam Raimi. The Worst Planet On Earth is their latest short film proof-of-concept, set in the future when humanity is extinct and the planet has become a dumping ground. In an attempt to re-open the wormhole so that she can return home, Penny the astronaut and her new best friend, an incompetent wizard named Cola, raise an evil overlord named Bone-Bone. Armed with a ray gun and a magic rock, the pair of outcasts set out to destroy him. Starring Olivia Newton and Michael Muyunda. Pause what you're doing and watch this.
Awww. Another adorable, heartwarming short from Pixar. The animation studio has unveiled the third short film as part of their exciting SparkShorts program, featuring innovative and creative short films made at the studio by first-time filmmakers. Following the first two shorts, Purl, and Smash and Grab, this new one is about an unexpected friendship. Kitbull is about a fiercely independent stray kitten and a big pit bull. Together, they experience friendship for the first time. The animation style for this one is much than Pixar's usual work, utilizing a hand-drawn look instead of Pixar's typical 3D rendered style. It reminds me of old Disney animated films. And it has that same charm and authenticity with the story. This might be one of my favorite Pixar shorts they've ever made, it's just lovely and amusing and so cute. Watch Kitbull in full below.
"Come on over." Feeling lonely? Need a good laugh? Want to hate text messages even more than you already do? Fire up this short film Girl, Interrupted, a three-minute comedy short directed by Jake & Will (aka Jake Bradbury & Will Blank). This is a pretty basic short with a premise that you'll understand as soon as you start watching. Starring Traci Doering as the "girl". This funny short film is one of the first as part of a new project created by comedians Jake & Will called 20th Century Faux, in which they're making a series of comedy shorts (the way they want) using very limited resources, delivering 16 in total. You can also listen to a behind-the-scenes podcast for this short here. As we've noted before, this goes to show how much fun you can have with pretty much no budget. If you enjoy this, there's plenty more from this team on the way soon.
Dive in. One Breath Around the World is a stunning short documentary featuring world champion free diver Guillaume Néry exploring remarkable places underwater. The footage in this is jaw-dropping, mind-blowing incredible - so amazing it's hard to even believe it's real. But it is. Néry explores these oceanscapes by holding his breath for a very long time and swimming/crawling/running around. The footage is shot by his wife, who also held her breath while shooting this. I guarantee you've never seen anything like this. It's all so stunning and totally disorienting, you'll lose all your sense of direction and forget which way is up. It's breathtaking to see the art they've created with a camera while they explore this beautiful planet we live on.
Yes!! Pixar made a short film about robots?! Awesome. The latest SparkShorts film from Pixar Animation Studios is titled Smash and Grab, and it's available online for viewing for free now. Just last week they launched the first short online - Purl directed by Kristen Lester - and they've followed it up with this one being released next. From director Brian Larsen, Smash and Grab is a tale of two robots. After years of toiling away inside the engine room of a towering locomotive, two antiquated robots will risk everything for freedom and for each other. This definitely feels like it fits right into the Wall-E universe, and the sound design is especially amazing and a key part of the characters. I am totally loving these SparkShorts, they're superbly entertaining and unique and clever. I hope they keep this program going for a while. Watch below.
"I got robbed… by a cowboy." If you were a successful bank robber, would your life really be better? That's one of the questions hidden within this short film titled Don't Be a Hero, from writer/director Pete Lee. Don't Be a Hero is about a middle-aged woman who battles her loneliness and boredom by robbing banks in the guise of a cowboy on her lunch break. But after the adrenaline rush wears off, she still has to deal with her deeply unhappy life. It's inspired by a true story - which isn't surprising once you see this. Missi Pyle stars in this as Lizzy Jo, along with Link Ruiz, Hojo Shin, and Ashley Spillers. This reminds me a bit of Robert Redford's The Old Man & The Gun, which has that casual cowboy bank robber thing going on as well.
"There's been some kind of anomaly. The crew has vanished. Can you resist?" For die-hard Trekkies only. A new Star Trek fan film has finally launched, after nearly six years in development. Star Trek: Temporal Anomaly is a feature-length (two part) fan film made by Samuel Cockings, described as a "love letter to all of Star trek! The first fan film to combine all of the eras into one project." This throwback to Trek series of past brings various timelines together into one story. It was originally funded on Kickstarter back in 2013, and has been in the works ever since. "From using antiquated video game engines for the space visual effects and green screen sets, to spending hundreds of hours learning the very same VFX software they made the space effects in Voyager/Enterprise/DS9." It's finally available to watch for those who want to check it out. But beware - this is old school Trek, with sketchy acting and even sketchier sets. But it is a true labor of love.