Big budget spectacle is not always necessary to tell a compelling sci-fi yarn, as it is a genre that should first and foremost be driven by its speculative ideas. And if you are Kelly Sears, sometimes all you need is a high-school yearbook. That's all it took to tell the tale of a generation of students brief and mysterious descent into madness in her new film Once It Started It Could Not End Otherwise.
Sears blew me away a few years ago with her stellar science fiction short The Drift, which depicted a revisionist history of the space race of the 1960s through the simple montage of vintage postcards and magazine trimmings. Complimented only by simple narration and a haunting score, the short was able to effectively marry minimalist aesthetics with a grand sci-fi scope, very much reminiscent of Chris Marker's seminal La Jetée.
Once It Started... premiered last month as part of a film series put on by Rooftop Films (they also assisted in funding the short), and they are currently hosting the short for a brief period of time on their website.
Here is their write-up on the film:
Part disaster film, part Freudian animation, Once It Started... bears witness to a series of absurd and horrible disasters that strike an American high school, eerily mirroring larger political and social markers of the recent past.
Like The Drift, Sears' film doesn't attempt to rationalize or fully explain the events of its vague narrative, rather it relishes in the unsettling ambiguity of the phenomena it conjures. Check out the full short at Rooftop Films, but check it out quick - it'll only be up for another week. I've also embedded The Drift below.