Science Fiction

This may not be the usual topic for a blog post normally displayed on Australian Science, but when our editor Danica mentioned she saw this great Aussie short and asked if one of us writers wanted to do a narrative, I jumped at it. The next 17:55 of my lunch break left me in awe.

A movie doesn’t have to be a full length feature to have an impact or drive home a message. And Payload really packs a punch. There were so many messages; messages of a society that travelled down a drainpipe. Clarke’s Town is a place that would have just about every council of the United Nations mired in details and confusion and working round the clock. The issues raised in this fictional setting being human trafficking, prostitution, the sale of human organs or body parts, smuggling, security, poverty, gender, food, clothing, education… corruption is everywhere. You get a sense of normalcy among the Carter clan, but that normalcy is faced against the outside operations of a world that does not make sense,which is far bigger than the Carters. Sacrifice is the only way for survival.

Clarke’s Town is a functioning spaceport, which is a character in and of itself in this story. This spaceport, this crawler, is painted as an escape to freedom and perhaps to normalcy – from dystopia to utopia. Is that why the mother never came back? Is Davinia “Dave” Carter now saved from what one can only suspect was to be a dreadful and despairing existence? Simon Carter may have been doing what he had to do, but he is Davinia’s hero. The main characters – Simon, Adam Carter (the father) and Kate Henshaw – each went through a visible transformation, almost a metamorphosis of sorts. They took what little there was of a moral high ground when it came to the reasoning of right and wrong (no matter how wrong). With Davinia, as she says goodbye to Simon at the spaceport, she leaves you with the thought that her transformation, her payload, is yet to come. I find it rather apropos the meaning of the name Davinia/David is “beloved”.

I’m having a hard recalling when exactly was the last time a movie moved me as much as this little motion picture has. From the setting, to the haunting yet soothing tones of the music, it makes you think what society, our world, would be like without some of the resources we take for granted every day. More so, I think it makes you think about some of the countries, or communities, in this world just struggling to gain access to basic resources.

Writer and director Stuart Willis mentioned extending Payload into a feature – set 10 years later when Earth is being evacuated. Will answers be given to the questions raised in the short? My synapses are already firing up hypothetical synopses. If there were a motion picture category for the Nobel Prize, I would say award it to Mr. Willis straight away.

Watch the movie.

Kelly Burnes

AUTHOR: Kelly Burnes

Kelly Burnes is a policy analyst in New York City whose current research focuses on the early childhood care and education workforce sector. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Public Policy Administration, both from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She previously worked for municipal government in Atlanta, GA, addressing environmental issues, land use and transportation planning. Her personal research interests include the broad area of climate change – sustainable development and renewable energy – and examining ways to tie social media to these issues to elevate public awareness and education. In her spare time she enjoys outdoor activities, such as running, biking, hiking, kayaking and rock climbing.

One Comment

  1. October 23, 2012 at 11:33 am ·

    Thank you for such a wonderful write-up! We are very honoured by your thoughtful words.

    You can also watch the film on vimeo, if you prefer, here:


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