The Short Film Proof-of-Concept behind Netflix's record-setting $30M Cannes Acquisition

News just came out that Netflix has ponied up $30M for international rights (excluding China) for Next Gen, the feature film debut from Kevin R. Adams and Joe Ksander. Deadline broke the story, and while details are sparse, they describe the film as “an action-packed and touching tale of two unlikely friends in a world filled with robots.”

Those names niggled at my brain when I heard the news, and sure enough, a little googling reminded me of GEAR, a short film from the duo that came onto Vimeo in early 2016, and was featured by i09 and The A.V. Club. We had an interesting conversation internally on whether to feature the film as we were impressed by its tone and world-building. However 2016 was the height of our dissatisfaction with narratively thin “proof-of-concept” shorts, and ultimately we declined. Was that a mistake? Check out the short below and make up your own mind. 


The logline goes: “In a future where robots fill our daily lives, a young girl loses her family to a killing machine which ends up becoming her only family.” The film was part of Prototype—a 2013 initiative from and New Regency. The competition took in submitted scripts and from there gave $20,000 dollars to 8 filmmaking teams to produce a proof of concept, with the winner receiving a development deal. Steve Illous’ Polis ended up the competition winner, but all 8 contenders were pretty good, and Memory 2.0 from Dugan O’Neal ended up being featured on Short of the Week. 

With details scarce on Next Genit’s hard to say how much the animated feature film relates to this short, which is a live-action/animation hybrid, but the robot connection is obviously prominent. Adams and Kander are longtime veterans of film VFX and Animation departments, and met while working on the feature animation 9, itself an adaptation of a short film. It would be interesting to hear more from the duo about if and how GEAR helped them get to this point where they now have what many are describing as a record acquisition out of Cannes. With Kina new feature film based on the S/W Award-winning short film Bag Manmaking its way to theaters soon, are we in the midst of resurgence for the short film proof of concept?