In a month that saw apolitical network Extinction Rebellion take to the streets of cities worldwide, in protest of governments inaction on climate change, a film about the end of humanity feels like a topical pick. Though Sean McKenna’s six-minute short Future Perfect doesn’t pinpoint exactly what wipes out mankind, it paints a picture of a distant Earth barren from life, that the director hopes will find an uneasy balance between “making people laugh and scaring the sh*t out of them”.
“In the beginning a child thought that there were two gods”. Perfectly narrated by Julian Barratt (Killing Eve, Sally4Ever), Future Perfect follows a young boy’s drawing of his parents as it’s placed in a time capsule, forgotten and then rediscovered at a much, much later date. With humanity now extinct, this juvenile sketch of a Man and a Woman plays an important role in a twisted future that blends ideas from Science-Fiction with real-life predictions on how the world will end.
Inspired to focus on this particular narrative after deciding he wanted to create a story that centred around “being a parent”, McKenna also admits he was also thinking a lot about “what we leave behind when we’re gone”, when penning Future Perfect. With the child’s drawing of his parents representing the one-dimensional version of ourselves we often portray online and how this could be viewed after we die, the writer/director adds online identity, to the list of topics covered in his ambitious short.
Having to portray the passing of thousands of years, within a tight run-time and with a limited budget at their disposal, was always going to be one of the biggest challenges for McKenna and his crew when bringing Future Perfect to the screen. However, the director approached the challenge with real positivity, revealing he “thought it would be fun to do it as a mostly single take shot pointing at a piece of ground”.
Shot over three and a half days, with a small crew, a day and a half of this time was used to film with their actors, while the rest of their shoot was spent “pulling plants through trays of soil and filming tubs of sand”.
With only three CGI shots used throughout the film, McKenna decided he wanted to do as as much as possible in camera. Employing timelapse, trick-cuts and slow-motion to bring his vision to life, the filmmaker’s unusual production methods included the involvement of a large paddling pool and a couple of hairdryers. “I’d done enough tests to know it would work”, he reveals, “but I do think a couple of the crew wondered what the hell we were doing”.
The somewhat rough, DIY aesthetic used throughout Future Perfect could be a turn-off for fans of Science-Fiction who like the production values on their apocalyptic tales a little slicker. Personally, I enjoyed the abstract take employed here. Is it perfect? Far from it, but it’s this unpolished production that strangely adds to unexpected authenticity of the piece and helps the filmmaker achieve one of his goals – “scaring the sh*t” out of us!
Now working on a longer short about a man whose life takes an unexpected turn when a secret society opens an office in the building he works, McKenna is also in development on a feature script titled HEADCASE. Funded by the BFI Network and commissioned as part of Channel 4’s Random Acts, Future Perfect joins Barbeque, Right Place, Wrong Tim, Fern, Embarrassed and Pockets in the ever-expanding list of titles we’ve featured from this broadcast short film strand