If you peruse our sci-fi collection, you’ll see many approaches to the form, but few voices as distinct as Shep films. Breaking through into consciousness via their SXSW short In the Pines, the duo of Chris Caldwell and Zeek Earl pair haunting, meditative imagery with subtle, high-concept premises to create narratives that are as familiar to our experience as they are otherworldly.
Prospect, their new crowd-funded short film project, recently debuted online. It is takes a tried and true path of adapting historical experience to sci-fi. A young woman and her father are on an alien planet to uncover a mysterious substance that is evidently of great value. The transposition is there in the title, as the parallels to frontier gold rush times guide the plot. When the pair have their gains “claimjumped” they are presented with a fraught situation outside of rule of law. To what lengths will the daughter go to reclaim what is hers?
Subtle VFX and gorgeous cinematography by Earl transform the forests of the Pacific Northwest into a verdant alien world, but it is the film’s grip on pacing and its contrast of lyrical moments and explosive action that set it apart, and overcome the sometimes wooden acting. First time can be an accident, but a second time is the start of trend — Shep Films has put themselves squarely on our radar, as they should be for anyone who loves sci-fi.