Seed is the first short of this series that feels like the script and production design are both so classy that I might be watching a wide-release indie film. All of these shorts have professional-looking FX and mostly solid cinematography, but a lot of the landscape in Seed is especially exquisite and would be great documentary footage on its own.
Other good thing: The future as presented in Seed feels the realest of all the shorts. Partly it’s just the lack of fancy gadgetry; Kamp’s gear looks practical, not stylish, which seems only appropriate, and a lot of the film feels as immediate and as threatening as it should.
The following doesn’t summarize the film, so you may just want to watch it above and then jump into my analysis. (Spoilers ahead, of course.)
In sum, I find that Tempo uses its sci-fi tech well but also serves up an emotionally gratifying story. Harp, the scientist hero, functions well here as an everyman thrown into peril and making the best of a crap situation. The story is compelling, and it helps that Seth Worley, the director, makes the introduction of the invention a natural part of the plot via the rough documentary footage that begins the short.
The clapboards in the doc have labels, so we’re already picking up the nuances of the “time cannon” (a label I made up because it looks like the t-shirt cannons they use at baseball games). We see both its slowing and speeding functions, but also its regrettable effects on living targets. This strategy — familiarizing us with the time cannon by documentary — is fairly organic to the story, unlike the methods of yesterday’s short, Memorize.
Memorize‘s first mistake is that it subscribes to the theory that in the future, everyone will look like a model. It’s a look so prevalent in sci-fi that it’s a kind of convention, and you could just be chalk it up to the filmmakers’ desire to make the future look slammin’. But while stylization like this has its merits, it’s hard to justify from a story perspective, and in a drama like this, it probably detracts from the sense of visceral grittiness that we are probably looking for, especially in this sort of noir-ish dystopia.