Are we entering a Golden Age of independent filmmaking? With the world on lockdown, we have to be headed there. Otherwise, we’re wasting this valuable opportunity to get ahead of the game. The tools available at our fingertips rival anything the big studios can offer. These facts are running through my brain while watching Luka Hrgović, Dino Julius, Anton Svetić’s Slice of Life. The short film builds an amazingly bleak dystopian future, akin to Blade Runner. The set pieces and special effects are top-notch and accomplished without the aid of CGI.
Set in the far off future, the world as we know it has been overly industrialized, and Earth is left in urban decay. The streets are dark and seedy, while electronic billboards sell promises of a better life. That better life is found on other moons and planets. How do you get there? Once a year, a large ship transports wealthy citizens to this idyllic paradise of old, known as the “Off World Islands.” The price is an unaffordable 100,000 credits.
The film’s protagonist is a low-life drug dealer, who pushed and connived his way to 87,000 credits. Just a few more deals and maybe an act of desperation will get him the remaining funds in time to catch the next ship. Here the filmmakers have set a tone of global paranoia. The goal is clear—get off Earth. How? Raise a lot of money. But how? Beg, borrow, and steal…mostly steal.
“…a large ship transports wealthy citizens to this idyllic paradise… the ‘Off World Islands.’”
As our protagonist employs questionable methods to build his nest egg, everyone he comes into contact with wants his money and his potential spot on the ship. In an ominous text, our hero is now being hunted, and he wants “the whole enchilada.”
The storytelling in Slice of Life is brilliant and plays out like the final act of a sci-fi action thriller. Where the filmmakers truly excel is production values. The overall look of the film and special effects will blow your mind. I mentioned before that Slice of Life has the look and feel of Blade Runner…the original. You’d swear they just took over the original set and started filming.
Even more impressive is the absence of a single lick of CGI…including flying cars for crying out loud. Every damn scene is shot practically using miniatures, matte paintings, rear projection, etc. The visuals are awe-inspiring, but then again, that’s how Hollywood used to make films…including Blade Runner, the original Star Wars movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I can’t say more about how impressive Slice of Life is. It represents one crucial aspect of independent filmmaking in that it pushes the limits of what’s possible outside of the big studio and how we are less dependent on its resources. Now its success is dependent on effective marketing. I’m giving Slice of Life a high score, and you should watch it. What would have made it a perfect film was some level of irony or deep insight into the human condition that you’d associate with the sci-fi genre. That said, see Slice of Life and be amazed at the possibilities.
"…impressive is the absence of a single lick of CGI…including flying cars for crying out loud."