Illustration of aliens watching a movie, by Eric Van Huystee

Summer Shorts: 14 Short Sci-Fi Films

By Robert Repass

Greetings, Earthlings! As another summer blockbuster season lands on us like a two-mile-wide starship on an immaculate Iowa cornfield, let’s prepare for first contact—by beaming down some of YouTube’s most interesting, far-out short movies.

Yes, it’s time to say hi to some sci-fi! Our inter-cinematic excursions are all under 30 minutes long, traveling at a light speed of 30 frames per second to take you to unknown realms, distant galaxies, and scary cubicles. As with other recent film fests (such as “13 Fright Bites” and “16 Sweets for Valentine’s Day”), we’ve brought you a wide selection: alien encounters, superhero antics, time-travel tribulations, magic, and much more. So all you Zarkin Froods out there, grab a towel, lose the jetpacks, and let your voyage begin. And YouTube, thanks for all the films!


When does an abandoned well become the ultimate rabbit hole? When two men find themselves stuck at the bottom—and their realities clash.

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Length: 18:23


A man finds the perfect device for anyone on the go—but this singular film reminds us to look carefully before leaping.

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Length: 3:39



In this perfectly paced and VFX-studded chase film, a man with special powers races through the streets of future Los Angeles, trying to evade a squad of flying police droids.

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Length: 6:03



This reflective film examines the road seldom traveled. In it, a photojournalist with very special talents grapples with his actions and the difficult choices he’s made to help better the world.

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Length: 8:30


Teen humor meets superpower madness in this flick for people who like their heroes riding high on cheap beer…and other substances. Low motivation and bad taste rule the day here.

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Length: 12:49


In this clever and wonderfully visual film, a hapless alien with lots of time on his hands crash lands in the Land Down Under, where he must scavenge for parts to fix his vessel.

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Length: 7:46


We all want to stay connected with our mobile apps, but can we be too connected? This smart short takes us to a very believable “gamified” future where people are apt to app their lives away.

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Length: 7:52


Time is definitely not on the side of this garage inventor—when he fails to realize that all is not what it seems…again. Confused? Well, so is he in this wry tick flick.

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Length: 17:28


This thought-provoking, Academy Award–winning animated short from 1989 shows what can happen when competing forces fail to cooperate and strike a balance.

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Length: 7:31


A stock trader moves into a smart-home prototype controlled by ARI, an intelligent computer—one who apparently hasn’t heard of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. It’s man versus house in this taut domicidal thriller.

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Length: 16:16


In this beautifully CGI-rendered short, an alien species clings to life after their machines turn on them. Only one captured soldier stands between survival and the formidable enemy forces poised to attack.

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Length: 6:26


Superhero or ruthless vigilante? This question is on the mind of a would-be criminal in this dark short, where life and death judgments seems to come randomly out of the blue.

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Length: 9:20


In this thriller, the battle between good and evil escalates to a new level. It’s a world where magicians’ tricks are real and the fate of the world is all in the cards.

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Length: 17:35


However you envision the afterlife, let’s hope it’s not as depicted in this irreverently funny 2006 web series. In it, heaven has poor fluorescent lighting and an HR department. Oh, the paperwork!

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Length: 9:20

We hope you enjoyed these flights of fancy, and if, while enroute, you caught the moviemaking bug, even better! (Just make sure that the bug is not actually a sentient parasite locked onto your SITI signal.) Check out these tips on editing video with Adobe Premiere Pro CC; then grab your camera and share your creations with the world.

June 25, 2015