Tomorrow’s on Fire is a “rallying cry for hope” in response to Australia’s bushfires

Darcy Prendergast created this animated short as a way to process his emotions and hold power to account.

Date
10 January 2020
Reading Time
3 minutes

Share

“Tomorrow’s on Fire is the most important film I’ve made, but sadly the one I wish I never had to,” admits Australian director, Darcy Prendergast. Made in response to the serious bushfires currently devastating Australia and its wildlife, the animated film features a beautifully written monologue protesting against the selfishness that has contributed to the disaster.

Darcy tells It’s Nice That how he created the film in the hope of being a catalyst for action: “Intended as both a call for unity and a rallying war cry, it’s an attempt to bridge the divide between the increasingly entrenched; a demand for change, hope and a future for all.”

Inspiration for the project was all around Darcy (he even volunteers at a wildlife centre), but it took encouragement from someone extremely close to him to actually pursue it.

“When I first wrote this, I was at my parents for the weekend. Mum and I had just watched a harrowing news segment on one of our most important Koala populations being decimated, and I was doing a terrible job of fighting back tears,” he recalls. “I just kind of locked myself in my old bedroom for an hour, until I emerged with this half baked poem I’d written. It was just a way to process the horror, to begin with… but I said to mum, ‘maybe I’d like to take the next couple of months off to turn it into an animation.’ Now my mother, as loving, artistic and caring as she is, is generally pretty frugal with her praise – but upon reading it aloud to her, she just said, ‘Make it. It’s too important not to.’”

It turns out this was exactly the confirmation that Darcy needed: “Weirdly, that validation even as a grown-ass 34-year-old man spurred me into action. It felt like I’d been given a gold star and an encouraging pat on the head. I started storyboarding that night and didn’t take a day off until it was finished seven weeks later.”

Above

Darcy Prendergast: Tomorrow’s On Fire

The film was made with Darcy’s production company, Oh Yeah Wow, which he set up following his role as lead sculptor on the cult clay animation feature, Mary & Max. His current work is predominantly as a live action and animation director in the music video industry, working with artists such as Gotye, Neil Young, Green Day and J Cole.

Although a number of people contributed to the film, the true star is the young narrator, Miles, whose emotive delivery adds a real poignancy to the message. Overall, the film was not an expensive one to make, relying instead on commitment and effort to get it over the line. “Outside of buying some kickass Lego for my seven-year-old narrator, this film cost me nothing but time,” he says.

The lack of money involved was important to Darcy, showing that projects like this are possible without big budgets. “No one can take the ability to create away from you, no one can silence it, yet a single image can change the trajectory of the world. No artist should underestimate their potential, nor should they second guess it. Turn anger into art and create fearlessly,” he says.

While clearly being based on the problems in Australia, the film, and the script in particular, remain relevant to many countries across the globe. “Whilst the content was pretty localised, I worked hard to retain a universality to the writing. For me, it needed to resonate more broadly to tap into a growing sense of helplessness, and give a flag to rally around as if to say, ‘It’s okay to be knocked down but let’s not forget what we stand to lose if we stay on the canvas,’” he says.

“We deserve better, and so does our next generation.”

To date, it’s estimated the fires have claimed the lives of 1.25 billion Australian animals. To donate to the Native Animal Shelter Darcy volunteers at, please follow this link.

Share Article

Further Info

About the Author

Charlie Filmer-Court

Charlie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in December 2019. He has previously worked at Monocle 24, and The Times following an MA in International Journalism at City University. If you have any ideas for stories and work to be featured then get in touch.

cfc@itsnicethat.com

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.