You Tube has “original content” fever beyond its traditional assemblage of music videos and cute baby and car accident compilations. They’ve established YouTube Red as a subscription service featuring original movies and shows, and have recently announced additional efforts to create ad-supported free original content, as it competes with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon as a non-traditional alternative for a new generation not raised on the classic three broadcast networks. Several providers have sprung up on YouTube providing adventurous fiction fare, and DUST is a YouTube channel featuring sci-fi oriented fare of all sorts: to quote, “DUST is the first multi-platform destination for binge watchable sci-fi. We feature science fiction short films and other content from emerging filmmakers with stunning visual effects, captivating plots and complex character explorations. Robots, aliens, space exploration, technology, and human experience are all a part of DUST. “
This ambitious slate including the short film “AGAIN,” about a young man who stumbles across a company specializing in a procedure known as “simulated time placement” which allows users to relive moments from the past, both pleasurable and painful. As he becomes increasingly obsessed with reliving moments with his girlfriend, dangerous side-effects become apparent, but he isn’t able to give up reliving the best (and worst) of his moments of passion and regret with her.
Directed by Mitch Glass, and handsomely photographed by Ryan Sandler, AGAIN plays out its somewhat familiar scenario adequately, using its 15 minutes plus running time to create a nicely mysterious relationship between its protagonist and his girlfriend, well-played by Megan Lozicki. The images are often evocative, but the filmmaking feels a bit clinical, and slightly withdrawn- the film might be a bit too sober, remote and private. Perhaps that is a side-effect of the lead, Gary Bristow, not being able to open himself fully to the camera, and while it appears to be a film about intimacy, the film never really feels intimate to me. The film has a most worthy theme — the use of clinical technology to recreate human intimacy – and the film leaves open whether such effort is futile, or rather perhaps too successful. The film has a great look – the “now” sequences are all shot in a clinically claustrophobic style that reminds us how oppressive mundane living can be, and it’s hard not to watch the film and consider what top ten moments from your life you’d like to re-experience. However, like a lot of short films it essentially plays as a (well-mounted) shaggy dog joke with a surprise ending. The film isn’t really beclouded with enigmas — its mournful, paranoid quality is quickly established, and by AGAIN’s end you pretty much understand what there is to understand of its concept
Still, this isn’t grandpa’s YouTube, and credit to DUST for its ambitions to provide meaningful genre content in an unorthodox arena, and credit to the filmmakers of “AGAIN” for their ambition and highly competent, if perhaps defoliated, execution.
Check out “Again” and more short films on DUST.