When I was a kid, the thing I wanted most in the world was a twin. The idea of having another me around to play with, someone who thought the way I did and knew what I knew, was an idea I had obsessed over briefly. If 3D printers had existed when I was a kid and if I had thought it could replicate me, I might have tried. In the short film Caleb, written, directed and produced by Amanda Mesaikos and Susanne Aichele, a nine-year-old boy does exactly that.
In a futuristic world that isn’t too far from our own, Caleb (James and William Hall) is being bullied at school and ignored by his too busy parents at home. With access to a 3D printer (which we never see on screen), he duplicates himself, creating his own personal partner in crime. They have all the same memories, thoughts and scars.
Mesaikos and Aichele have brought us a unique and interesting piece that keeps the viewer engaged. It hooked me with intrigue at the start and the ending was sweet and clever. The film won for Best Original Screenplay at the 41st Boston Sci-fi Film Festival – which is a well-deserved win.
To Thy Clone Be True
Caleb is played by identical twins James and William Hall – their characters expressing both frustration and joy in the film. The boys did a good job of carrying the lead role(s) – Caleb reacting in frustration to his parents dismissal and acting overjoyed at having another him around.
John, the dad was given a playful performance by Mark Frost, who when he wasn’t too busy with work and caught up in their digital world, enjoys being playful and having fun. The first time we’re introduced to him he’s only half engaged in his interaction with Caleb but gets wrapped up in business. His character is busy rather than dismissive.
Sonia, portrayed by Elizabeth Healey, came off as the overworked, neurotic, paranoid and strict parent who isn’t as accepting of things as dad might be. She appears to be all work and no play, only paying attention to her son after he goes to drastic measures. Healey’s performance from high anxiety to acceptance leads to a happy ending for the family, showing range in her acting.
Kudos to the cast. Stellar performances by all.
The film was contained to one location; their home, with most scenes taking place in the living room or kitchen/dining areas. The color scheme was subtle and smooth. The lighting, sound and camerawork were all top notch, giving this short film a good professional quality all-around, topping off with some digital effects added in post-production.
The theme of the film is one that makes you think. What are our family units becoming while we’re so engrossed in our digital world? Are inorganic beings going to become our solution to things? This film made me think and smile at the same time because it was done in a way that wasn’t horrific and found an alternative way to coexist with the AI (Artificial Intelligence) we create rather than seeing it destroy us – and our world.
Wardrobe was mostly simple and kept with current trends, not set too far in the future. Sonia wore her hair slick and straight, like many modern women today. Her eye make-up was a bit distracting and was more futuristic than what we see in modern times, however it wasn’t over the top. I must say though, I find that look to be unappealing and hope not to see it become the new trend in eye makeup anytime soon.
Amanda Mesaikos and Susanne Aichele are creating fresh content with a unique perspective. I look forward to seeing more from them as they will hopefully evolve from short films into features. Caleb deserves all the praise it has so far received from festivals around the world.
Do you think inorganic beings are going to become our solution to things? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!