When a headstrong scientist, Gill, test pilots a prototype teleportation suit, a disagreement with her overbearing partner who engineered the suit leads to a drastic mistake. The suit malfunctions, and Gill must avoid disaster.
That’s the idea behind the character study in director Kieran Moreira’s sci-fi indie short film GILL. Mixing beautiful cinematography from places in North Carolina with detailed costuming, GILL highlights how sci-fi at its best can illuminate the ways we live at the most human of levels — such as our relationships.
“I love the fantastical, and I love when films can blend that reality with fantasy,” says Moreira, explaining why science fiction sparks his imagination. “Alex Garland, Danny Boyle—those guys do some of the best. Boyle has done some fantastic worlds. You’re just drawn into the worlds he crafts. And that’s something I hope to do—create an interesting world that the characters can live in.”
GILL is an example of that sensibility. To create an interesting world, Moreira says, “GILL showcases the beauty of North Carolina, using the locations I’ve visited on family trips or just passed by that inspired me to write the scenes.”
And to create compelling characters, he chose to examine a relationship that involves a power dynamic. “That’s something I feel is universal,” he explains. “Everyone can relate to it, especially when the power dynamic isn’t equal. If you’re in a bad relationship, it can feel like you’re jumping around in time and teleporting around. So that’s the genesis of where this story came from.”
To highlight the strong elements of character in the story, Moreira says he chose his actors carefully. Caitlin Wells (who plays Gill) is a local theater actor. “Theater actors are very talented; some are classically trained, but they’re always looking for film credits,” says Moreira. “We held a casting call and found Caitlin that way, and she was fantastic. Lazarus Simmons (who plays the voice of Gill’s partner) was recommended by Caitlin.”
Of course, sci-fi needs its visual effects too, and Moreira was able to draw upon his connections with people who create commercial VFX. “They’re always looking for ways to flex their muscles and doing something cool and different,” he says. “Also, one of my collaborators, David Childress, was on set on day one and talked through all the logistics: ‘This is what I’ll need. You’ll need to consider this.’ Knowing that going in, I knew he would have what he needed, and we could plan to do things the right way.”
Though Moreira admits to getting a bit of nerves when watching his work with an audience of strangers present, he also enjoys watching people’s reactions. GILL has screened at a variety of festivals, including Dragon Con in Atlanta, a new experience for him.
“Dragon Con was fantastic,” Moreira says. “I’d never been to a con. But I can honestly say it was a blast. The energy there was super exciting. The screening was completely full, and they were turning people away. That’s a good feeling as a filmmaker.”
Keep up to date with Kieran’s latest adventures by visiting his website: Negative Split Films.