Waking up to consequences

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.

Bear Necessities – by Zoe Spiers, School of Computing, Teesside University

Aimed at a youth audience this cartoon works to connect everyday actions with faraway consequences in a startling way.

Journey to a 2D/3D animated short with our main character Frederick. He’s in his late twenties and has a lazy attitude with total disregard for the environment. As he is getting ready to hit the town he leaves water-running, wastes electricity and uses excessive amounts of deodorant and hairspray. Meanwhile in the background the television has been left on. Frederick ignores the TV but the audience can see the direct affect his actions have on the polar bear’s life causing the polar bear to be more than a little disgruntled.

I wanted to create a thought-provoking piece of animation, with a light hearted tone yet serious message. We all do these things and we never think about the consequences. But what if you could actually see the cause and effect? Would it change your mind? Or would you carry on as normal? This animation was made on a tight time schedule, a lot of hard work was put into the production and all team members completed well over your usual nine to five day!

Zoe and team have applied the visual language and techniques of computer animation in order to test a fresh approach to communicating the real but distant environmental impacts of everyday actions. The look and feel of the short will be familiar to generations who have spent a good chunk of time in a gaming and online world. They’ve grown up with formal environmental education but they’re resistant to the messages presented. The panel were attracted to the idea of turning an environmentalist cliché on its head: for sure Polar bears are threatened, but they are also capable of being threatening, and Frederick gets some feedback about his carelessness that he won’t forget in a hurry.

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