A young woman recounts a visit by a mysterious entity.

We’ve heard the invasion story hundreds of times, maybe thousands. But this is not the invasion story you are thinking about. Director Peter Majarich sets up an intriguing scenario with some sneaky story elements that catch us my surprise. This three minute short film is filled with worry, tension and emotional and is all shot on an iPhone 8 – minus one drone shot. We caught up with Peter to tell more about the film.

Can you tell us what inspired you to bring this story to life?

It started with the idea of creatures in the sky arriving from somewhere else. I envisioned that in my mind and wanted to tell a story around it. I actually had a different idea for the plot early on: Namely that a race of aliens would arrive from above, but we’d all miss it because we had our heads down looking at our phones. I explored that story seed and couldn’t make it work, so I knew I had to pivot to something else. From there I wanted to take it from a straight-up creature feature into something more philosophical or metaphorical. I didn’t just want to make it a genre story. It was only at the very late stage in the edit that the double meaning in the title came to life and make sense.

Tell us about the creative process in creating the creatures.

I had a limited timeframe and a limited skillset. I can only do very basic visual effects and knew that if I was to do shots where creatures interacted with characters or objects, then it would get very complicated. So I had the idea just to have them float ominously above the ground. I also knew that I didn’t want the creatures to resemble anything human or animal, just more amorphous. I found some fairly inexpensive 3d models of some brain neurons. Textured and sized in just the right way, and then once some basic movement was added, they took on another life. I read that Gareth Edwards took a similar approach when inserting the creatures for Monsters. He found some simple “tentacle wave” effect and just added that to their movement, rather than custom animation for each character. I didn’t complete the final VFX shots myself, but I’m still glad that I went in the direction of something simple and vague rather than a bespoke creature design.

Which films you can say directly inspired this film?

It’s probably apparent, but the early scenes of Arrival were a big inspiration. I tried to match the tone, not only emotionally but visually. The way it’s slow and meditative rather than fast-paced and action-packed. The way it’s underexposed. The snail-paced camera moves. I’m obviously not saying i approach anywhere near how good that film is. But it was my reference point.

What are your favorite short films?

I absolutely love short films as a medium. It’s approachable as an audience member and achievable as a filmmaker. You can be transported to another world in a seven minute timespan on your lunch break. I also think there’s a propensity for shorts to have twists, which I’m a big sucker for. Here in Australia, I was moved to tears by Nursery Rhymes, a one-take punch to the gut set on a lonely Aussie country road. I saw Terminus years and years ago and only recently rediscovered how joyous it is when I stumbled across it online. Ruairi Robinson makes some great shorts, one of his best is Fifty Percent Grey. I love the look and questions raised by LOOP. Unearthed is an oldie but a goodie. I revisit Brink every so often and get swept away by its beauty. Runaway is a great, good-time watch — like Snowpiercer if it was accompanied by fun jazz music. Most recently I was blown away by Porter by Travis Hanour, starring Bryan Veronneau and shot by Pete Konczal, which is a proof of concept for a larger story. I could go on and on!