Species usually evolve over thousands of years, but in the sci-fi short Dust from Ember Lab, it takes only a few months for creatures to change. The film explores a world where humans seek refuge and live in walled cities, barely setting foot outside in the wild where there are plagues and dangerous animals.
Before people lived in these walled cities there were people known as trackers who recored the changing creatures and seasons, in order to help others survive. The short follows one of these trackers, one who has fallen into disgrace.
The tracker, called Irezumi, is hired to try and find what's causing a deadly plague, a mysterious dust, that is causing havoc in the area around a place called Kabe, which is the world's oldest city.
To stop the dust from spreading the city is close to lockdown and Irezumi ventures out into the surrounding countryside to look for a cure. He also seeks redemption while out there.
The film was shot in Japan over 11 days and makes excellent use of the stunning scenery. It was also inspired by anime and horror movies. Ember Lab have been looking to make the film for a number of years and, after raising over $100,000 on Kickstarter, finally got to do it. The result is well worth a watch, raising both interesting themes and providing great visuals.
"The cast and crew traveled to remote heritage sites in the southern island of Shikoku, Japan, where they hauled film equipment up mountain paths, across vine bridges and through bamboo forest trails." notes the filmmakers. "Several of the film’s locations were shot in the remote Iya Valley sometimes called the 'Tibet of Japan.' Iya boasts Japan’s steepest ravines, emerald green rivers, magnificent waterfalls, and ancient thatched houses perched on misty hillsides."
The filmmakers then enhanced the beauty and added in some fantastical elements and creatures with VFX.