This post is about one of the ten short films in the Open University/BBC Creative Climate short film competition, made by students from UK film schools. You can see them all here on the OU’s YouTube channel.
What If by Mark Benson and Germaine Colajanni, University for the Creative Arts at Farnham
This mix of film and animation delivers some of the big themes around climate change, resources and over-consumption but with a big cheeky wink. The film also gives people choices in the present that can avoid the worst potential outcomes.
One of the great creative challenges facing anyone that is trying to communicate about global environmental change issues is the task of connecting complex, often global, processes with everyday life. Mark and Germaine’s device is to have viewers follow the character’s own frantic high consumption start to the day in his apartment.
He pauses for a quiet moment in the toilet where a voice on the radio offers an update on the consequences and causes of climate change. The toilet roll becomes the sketch pad for a long run of highly inventive and appealing hand drawn animations that bring the abstract statistics to life about the consequences for nature and everyday life if we don’t take climate change seriously. The factual material would be hard to digest if thrown at a reader in text, and the messages potentially distressing. The funny and touching animation makes for compelling viewing, with a host of the world’s most beloved creatures appearing on the toilet roll as the narrative – and the roll – unfurls.
The roll runs out, leaving the poor fellow calling plaintively from his seat for help. But the sign off makes clear that the audience can make choices in the present and avoid a similar fate for humanity.