Written and directed by Colin Levy, when two outcast teens hack into a drone delivery system to pull a prank on the girl next door, they accidentally redirect a critical shipment and find themselves entangled in a life-and-death political conspiracy. Starring: Uriah Shelton, Zach Callison, Katherine Dubois, Eric Nahinu, Valerie Weak and Jude Law.
Made over the course of 6-years as a proof of concept short film and brought into fruition by a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign which raised just shy of $53,000, it’s easy to see how this would smoothly translate into film or television. It does mean that of course, you’re not going to find any sort of resolution to its story because it is far from over, however that thankfully doesn’t stop it from still being an entertaining film without them. One of the aspects that’s quickly clear is that this isn’t your average short shot on an iPhone or with a miniscule budget, a lot of time and money went into creating a sharp and grabbing visual. The film immediately gives off a sense of high production value and top shelf effects work, so it loses none of 10-minutes because you’re drawn in immediately. It also quickly establishes its score (by Jasper Blunk), it’s atmospheric and adventurous, smoothly heightening the events at play, in a manner perfectly chosen for its teen sci-fi setting.
Society’s obsession with futuristic tech and the ability to have anything you want at the touch of a button is definitely captured within the frames of this film. From the beginning and introduction to NexPort, we’re shown a device in your home similar to an intensely upgraded Amazon, where purchases are flown by drone then arrive in a port on your wall. However, what we already know from many previous examples, being able to have such advanced tech comes at a price, whether that be turning the human race into obese floating chair riding commercial zombies or falling prey to vicious A.I., in this case it’s a suspicious option the kids find when hacking into one of the drones. Though there’s only time to get a brief glimpse of the child-friendly political corruption that this one will undoubtedly have in store, the fantastic effects work brings its futuristic tendencies into reality, in an utterly convincing manner. It’s no surprise that Levy previously worked at Pixar because the level of effects is lightyears above what you’d find in your average live action short, he clearly put together a brilliant team. That experience evidently bleeds into his direction as the style is inherently reminiscent of something you’d find coming out of Disney or Pixar, and the film itself could easily translate into a series for their streaming platform.
It’s easy to see that Shelton and Callison aren’t your first-time actors plucked from obscurity, they both have credits from decent sized television series, they make for great leads and have a convincing friendship. It’s interesting that even though we’re only being introduced to these characters, for a film focused on young teens, it doesn’t try to make them perfect, they’re not precocious kids that can do no wrong, they’re bored teens hacking into delivery drones to play pranks on their neighbours. Those two leads are really the only characters we get to know, there isn’t a lot from the rest of the cast, including the brief appearance from Law, however the potential of him as a ruthless villain is extremely fitting.
Skywatch hits a lot of the beloved sci-fi themes with its enhanced tech and dangerous consequences, we may not quite get to follow the white rabbit to its core but it strikes the right chords for the beginning of something very interesting. With its intention being to show the potential for expansion, it greatly succeeds because it would be hard not to see the possibilities for this story. It’s extremely well made, entertaining and is a fantastic set-up so keep your eyes peeled for this one as it has plenty more to say.