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How Come the Russians Get Robot Butlers First?

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | April 20, 2010 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | April 20, 2010 |

Philips makes HDTVs, and so in an effort to distinguish themselves from Sony, Peyton Manning, and Justin Timberlake, they took the next natural course and sponsored a short-film project. Called “Parallel Lines,” the project was a partnership with Ridley Scott’s production company RSA. Which basically means that 45 directors associated in one way or another with RSA submitted short films in a variety of genres. Five films were selected as best demonstrating “how Ambilight, picture quality and sound quality of Philips TVs bring cinema home.” In other words, they picked stuff that looked cool. I don’t know what Ambilight is. It sounds like a cheap light beer marketed to the power walking community, or maybe to EMTs.

In any case, these five shorts made the cut and got put up online:

The Gift: Robot butlers and car chases in Moscow!

El Secreto de Mateo: A boy, a secret and a donkey. Can’t go wrong there.

Jun & The Hidden Skies: Described as “Jun meets the dragon in an animation adventure.” Yep, sounds like it’s about heroin to me.

The Hunt:: Soldiers hunting something supernaturally horrific.

Darkroom: “Noir sci-fi thriller.” It’d be ironic if a noir film had a reference to light in the title, but instead they always say “dark” or “black.” Not even shades of grey.

The Gift is the most visually arresting of the bunch; here’s the film in its entirety:

That’s just about a perfect teaser film. It fits into that particular genre of sci-fi that’s grounded in the near future, with the world being essentially the same as today but with bits and pieces of futuristic flair grafted in and completely ignored by the characters. One can taste the flavors of the world, and it leaves just enough questions to hook you to want to explore it more. It’s visually neat, yes, but the real draw is that it teases you with potential story.

The Gift was made by Carl Erik Rinsch, who first got some headlines when it was rumored that he’d direct the Alien prequel, before Fox said Ridley-or-nada on the project. He’s also made a number of highly regarded commercials, but personally my TiVo and I don’t believe commercials exist. They’re like unicorns. Rinsch reportedly has already finished the script, design and pre-development. Several studios are in the process of bidding on financing the actual production, which has been renamed Small, on account of it being neither an episode of “Buffy” or a film starring Katie Holmes’ gifts. Concept art below (click to embiggen them):





(sources: SlashFilm, Philips, SciFi Cool)

Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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