Last week, DUST released its latest exclusive sci-fi film “Caleb” directed by Amanda Mesaikos and Susanne Aichele. The short film explores the consequences of a lonely 9-year-old secretly 3D printing himself. How will his parents handle the illegal cloning? Which child do they choose to keep? In addition to its online premiere, “Caleb” was one of five female-directed films that screened at DUST’s Future is Female event. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop what you’re doing and go watch Caleb now.

Amanda Mesaikos and Susanne Aichele gladly gave us a taste of their fresh perspective with some of our favorite answers to date. Now we get to share their thoughts with you.

If the world you created in your film became a reality, is that a world you would want to live in?

Not especially. A lot of our influences for this world were quite bleak and dystopian. All of the action in Caleb happens inside their home but we had to vividly imagine the outside world in order to understand their inside world. We imagined a place that felt suffocating, the air is heavy and polluted – which is why they have tried to adorn their walls with greenery. People in many ways feel more connected but less free. Sonia wears a tracking device which Caleb and John use to determine her whereabouts.

Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level? 

Falkor from Never Ending Story. Or maybe we’re the twins from The Shining

Friend or Foe: humanoid robots with advanced artificial intelligence? 

We’d say friend. We wouldn’t want to make harsh generalisations about all A.I. beings. Also, we just listened to a radio programme about robots cooking for people (with love and care) and it sounded really nice. We’d let a robot cook for us.

How do you get past the bad ideas to find your spark?

You need to learn to kill off the bad ones or  the ones that keep leading you down the same dark spiral. Sometimes certain ideas will never work no matter how hard you keep trying. And sometimes the spark can come from letting go of a bad idea… At the same time, it’s important to remember that your creativity is a very shy creature, if you flag ideas off as bad too quickly they will recede back in their caves to sulk. Look at your ideas from all angles, there might be a diamond in the rough.

Do you consider yourself part of a sci-fi community?

Hadn’t in a massive way until we made Caleb, but have to say, it feels good to be part of it now. It’s a really passionate and interesting community and so much more layered than just people dressing up and going to ComiCon (which is also cool).

When you’re creating the props and sets that make a new world, where do you look for inspiration?

We looked at inspiration from the past interpretations of the future. In Caleb, a lot of our aesthetic was inspired by old EPA photos from the 70s warning of the dangers of climate change. We really wanted to create this nostalgic look… but a future nostalgia. How a person in the 70s looked at the future. We wanted to create a world that sat somewhere between a dream and a nightmare.

How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?

We have the same basic need for things just the way we go about getting them has changed. For instance, the need to connect with other beings is a basic human need but the ways we go about connecting have changed and are constantly changing. So we think about things people will need/want and then put a futuristic and unfamiliar spin on it.

Budget and licensing blank cheque: what characters would you love to unite for a blockbuster?

It’s 1978. Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca & C3-PO meet Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man & the Cowardly Lion at Studio 54. During a night of debauchery and soul-searching they discover their similarities, but the night takes a dark turn when Darth Vader takes to the decks…

Lightning round:

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Star Trek

Practical or CGI?


Pre Apocalypse or Post Apocalypse?

Post Apocalypse

Keep up with Amanda Mesaikos and Susanne Aichele at .

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