It’s often been said that the best science fiction stories are not about technology or the future, but are about people and that’s what writer and director JJ Pollock aims to achieve with his short film, Jettison.
This low-budget, black and white film that will get its Dust premiere on December 7, 2022 tells the tale of a restless young woman who has been shipped from Earth to alien planets to fight an interstellar war. She leaves relationships on Earth behind and struggles with time dilation cutting her off from home. While watching this, it made me think about the struggles of the main character in Joe Haldeman’s classic novel, ‘The Forever War’ and it turns out that the story was one of Pollack’s inspirations.
In his director’s statement, Pollack calls Jettison a war movie without the war and says that he drew upon ‘The Forever War’ and films like ‘Jarhead’ and ‘Born on the Fourth of July’ in an attempt to capture the feeling of alienation that many veterans experience when sent to combat.
“Instead of showing the usual gory, and at this point well-trodden horrors of the fighting itself, we wanted to depict the experience as a slower and more existential kind of death,” said Pollack.
“Using the scientific phenomenon of time dilation, we want viewers to ask themselves how soldiers could possibly cope with a conflict of this magnitude and time scale, and hopefully reflect on the conditions of their real-world counterparts.”
Highlights from the film’s festival run include selections by two Oscar-qualifying fests (Austin Film Festival and HollyShorts), as well as winning 2nd Prize at SFFSFF, a scifi & fantasy fest hosted by the Seattle International Film Festival.
At a little over 11 minutes running time, Jettison is an entertaining short film, although I must confess that I got a bit confused about the relationships in the story and had to watch it twice, but that could have been my own lack of attention rather than the original script. More important is the mood of despair that the story evokes from Madison Wilson’s subtle but effective portrayal of the main character.
The cinematography of this short is good and the black and white format only adds to the mood. Considering that special effects are a hallmark of many science fiction movies and I imagine the budgetary limitations for this film, the VFX are understated, but effective. I especially enjoyed the image of the rings in the sky above an alien planet that the protagonist admires while on patrol with her squad.
You can watch the film here: