Late in the evening when not ready for sleep, but too tired or relaxed for anything else… What to do? Often my answer is to browse through YouTube or Vimeo watching creative short videos. In these days of excellent video from every camera, powerful CGI and desktop editing software that anyone can afford and master, the limit on creativity in video is limitless, or at least limited only by one’s imagination and willingness to put in the substantial effort required to create the video. Thus creative short story videos abound… Many are just bad, a lot are fairly good, and a few a really quite good. The good ones? They not only feature good technical efforts and perhaps good acting, but ask troubling questions, things that make you think.
My favorite genre is usually science fiction. A good science fiction video (or book for that matter) asks uncomfortable questions about where our society is going, what are the implications of societal trends or technological innovations? How will our world change if current trends continue or some new technology disrupts the current order. Some simply critique current problems in an attempt to educate or change our society, the best look beyond to ask “What if?” You know that the video was good when you find yourself thinking about the video days later
One thing I do note is the abundance of post-apocalyptic videos. There are dozens upon dozens of them to be found, they seem to represent the majority of creative sci-fi shorts on YouTube. The causes of the apocalypse are varied and predictable… War, disease, famine or environmental collapse. Indeed the form of the apocalypse is often unimportant to the story. A ruined world, people struggling to survive with only fragments of technology, violence and brutality ruling the lives of the survivors. Often the message can be powerful in a well written and produced video. Sad stories set in the ruins of an almost recognizable world.
What I wonder about is the reason there are so many such videos? Is it that these videos are easy to produce and have such a wide range of possibilities to explore? The sets and costumes are easy, a ruined factory and a few wrecked automobiles often provide an easy backdrop for the action. Ragged clothing from a surplus store, well within the non-existent budget of an aspiring filmmaker or a film school project.
Or is it that there is a sense of pessimism that pervades today’s society, that when creative filmmakers look to the future they see only bleak possibilities?
It is this last thought that haunts me. So many look to the future and no longer see a limitless universe among the stars. Gone is the optimistic vision that formed the basis of shows like Star Trek or Lost in Space. I suspect that endless controversy and dire predictions over issues such as climate change, genetically modified organisms, and endless middle eastern wars has so taken root in our collective consciousness that it becomes very easy to imagine an apocalyptic future.