We’ve shared lots of cool sci-fi shorts on io9 over the years, but it’s especially exciting when we get to host a premiere. Stevie Russell’s Seedling takes place during an alien invasion that rattles the world—but especially a scared young couple who are waiting it out at their beachside home.
Russell is hoping to expand Seedling into a feature, and the short hints at the ideas he has for a longer film—especially a huge plot development that’s only mentioned in passing in the final moments. Watch the film below, then read on for an interview with Russell that addresses Seedling’s most intriguing unanswered questions.
io9: If the short becomes a feature film, how would you expand the story?
Stevie Russell: The basic premise is this: There is a huge storm that rages around the world. Power is cut and people are advised to stay indoors. Earth has never seen anything like this, where clouds swirl and rain falls on every corner of the globe. This lasts a couple of days, before the power returns and the storms disappear. Nothing but clear skies remain and weather returns to normal. At this point, stories start to leak. People have seen things, huge ships in the clouds. There are also stories of encounters with strange creatures. It seems these storms were a symptom of something much larger: Our first global contact with an alien race.
io9: Would we see more of the story before the events of Seedling (the initial invasion) or more after (the post-invasion effects)?
Russell: It opens as the storms arrive. In the aftermath, it is discovered that women all over the world have had similar encounters, all of them in the early stages of pregnancy. This causes something of a worldwide panic and women are rounded up for “testing.” Our hero couple decide to evade capture and go on the run. The main body of the story follows them trying to find out what is happening and if they might be carrying something that is no longer human.
io9: Would we learn more about the aliens and their purpose or would you focus mostly on the humans?
Russell: The focus is mainly on the humans and their reaction to an event so enormous and unknown. It is also focused on our hero couple as they navigate the burning question of whether what they are doing is right or wrong. It’s scary enough to bring a kid into this world, but not knowing exactly what species your kid might be makes it even more terrifying.
io9: In the short, we hear a very quick snippet at the end about how pregnant women are affected by the alien visitors—adding a whole other layer to the idea of “invasion” since the children they’re carrying are apparently being altered by the experience. Are these good-guy aliens or bad-guy aliens, or is it more complicated than that?
Russell: The aliens’ motives are not clear to start with. The storms they brought are having an effect on the environment and world experts meet this with concern. The idea of them seeding the planet is a terrifying prospect at first and carries with it all sorts of creepy connotations. Our main character believes there is more to it than that. She can sense that her baby has a little more to offer than world domination. This is something felt by all those affected. They also start to gain strange abilities brought on by the power of what they are carrying. In the end, the aliens are here to help us, but it comes with a deeply troubling cost.
io9: Why did you decide to make pregnancy part of the story?
Russell: It’s a story I had not seen before. This idea of pregnancy, and the power of birth becoming something dangerous and potentially world ending, something to be feared. It really is one of the last great mysteries and it seemed like a great device for a story about a young couple on the run. Having a kid is such a huge moment for any couple. It’s sort of like an invasion of your life, as you previously knew it. Framed against this larger invasion, it felt like a cool comparison and an interesting way to tell a story about a young couple making a huge decision. It’s also a great ticking clock!
io9: What made you want to tell the story from a woman’s point of view?
Russell: I wanted the protagonist to be right in the middle of the tension in the story. It felt like the natural choice. She has to make all the important decisions as she is carrying this child. She has to experience each month and question everything as the delivery date draws nearer. This could be something truly incredible…or it could end the world. Going with her as she works all this out seemed like the right point of view. I also felt the fiercely protective nature of an expectant mother would question whether or not these things are dangerous. There is a level of compassion there that makes sense for the story.
io9: The design of the alien creature is pretty unique. What inspired you when you were coming up with it?
Russell: A mixture between tech and the very earliest life forms. These aliens are highly intelligent with the ability to fold technology into biology in a super advanced way. There are some things that will never beat biological design, but a really smooth merging seems conceivable.
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