Following the announcement of Blade Runner 2049, the forthcoming sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterpiece, a young South African filmmaker named Christopher Grant Harvey released a new short film set in the Blade Runner universe. Tears in the Rain, not to be confused with Reelvision’s homage project of the same name, is an 11-minute fan film that serves as a loose prequel to Blade Runner. Harvey’s film presents a ‘what if?’ scenario that imagines the repercussions of a Blade Runner accidentally killing a human in their pursuit of a rogue replicant.
Set in the same dystopian Los Angeles future, Tears in the Rain centers around John Kampff (Sean Cameron Michael), a senior engineer leading the Tyrell corporation’s Retirement Division. Kampff is in pursuit of a suspected Nexus 3 series android named Andy Smith (Russel Savadier) when he learns that Replicant detection is impossible without specialized equipment. Devices like the Voight-Kampff polygraph-like machine used in the opening scene Scott’s original film, haven't been invented—yet.
When deciding which direction to take on Tears in the Rain, Harvey and his writing partner Evan James Dembskey opted to focus on a singular, substantive idea and build a story around it, rather than churn out an flashy, action-packed Blade Runner spinoff. In a descriptive blog post on his website, Harvey writes, “We opted for a degree of maturity and focused our efforts on telling a story that had substance. It could have been pedestrian to pen a story about some bland hero who hunts down Replicants in a smoke-filled-rain-drenched city in a kinetic action chase scene. That certainly would be eye-catching and impressive, but the fundamentals of story and conflict should take preference.” The two were always fascinated by the idea that Replicants are indistinguishable from humans. They were driven to further explore the questions surrounding empathy and what is means to be human raised in Philip K. Dick's original novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.
The film took five years to make. Since the start of production back in 2012, Harvey says he often felt like giving up, “spending years in post-prod trying to get the perfect original visual effects and fitting score to bring the story to life, can lead to fatigue.” The struggle forced Harvey to repeatedly ask himself why his film was so important. “The burning desire, though, to delve deep inside and produce something that I could ultimately feel proud of (and be enjoyed by fans the world over) kept me going.” Watch the short film in its entirety below: