Sometimes the most compelling storytelling in Sci-Fi is the kind that comes dangerously close to reality. Situations that feel a few steps beyond our own lives, playing on fears of what may happen if we advance farther toward those habits we only wish to dispel. Couched carefully close to reality, the two shorts NEVER HAPPENED and CALEB do just that, but each leaving the viewer in different places by their conclusions.

In the last year DUST has been gaining attention brandishing its viewers with access to content across various media platforms. Self described as “the first premium sci-fi brand”…”showcasing thought provoking content, by giving voice to emerging, diverse and established filmmakers.”

If you haven’t taken a look at their YouTube page, do yourself the favor of doing so. For any steady Sci-Fi/horror fan there is plenty of quality content to consume. Gunpowder & Sky deserve a hefty pat on the back for their work on this project. Emerging from the haze have been a few clear viewer favorites – the shorts NEVER HAPPENED and CALEB – which is why we shall delve a bit deeper into their stories.

Still from NEVER HAPPENED

Pairing fears of modern technology and modern relationships, NEVER HAPPENEDplaces the viewer in a universe where through the use of smartphones, people have the ability to wipe their own memories at will. While coming perilously close to feeling like a “Black Mirror” episode, what it lacks for in original plot premise, it makes up for in organic dialogue, and a unique emotional build through means of contrasting scene construction. Moments between a husband’s business trip, and a conversation with his wife after the fact – NEVER HAPPENED skillfully builds tension in the form of a growing mild disgust for our main character. Since shorts tend to be so, well…short, there is often this fear on part of the viewer that whatever gain we find will be lost in failed resolution. But the best part of this story was its ability to take everything we learned about the little slice of this world, and surprise us with it.

Still from CALEB

Yet the true golden child of DUST‘s diverse content creation so far has been CALEB. Rarely does one find a sci-fi story so short, that’s equally as confrontational and questioning as it is delightfully heart warming. Centering around a family disconnected from each other, a son makes a copy of himself, forcing his parents to confront the boundaries of their own society. The whole cast had solid performances – Elizabeth Healey, Mark Frost, but especially the twin boys – William and James Hall who carried the heart of this short extremely well. We see within Caleb a boy innocently looking for solutions in the same world his parents passively manage – even at time fear. This contrast in perspective leads to the main conflict of the short. A story that very well could have left viewers with a shudder, instead carefully leaves us savoring what we cherish most about family, yet also asking how far we would really go to protect it.

Both these shorts portray futures not too far from our own, with the onle true divergences found in the main Sci-Fi element or playful details (like subtle wardrobe, or makeup alterations). With all the content DUST is generating, I can’t wait to see what stellar content they come out with next!

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