Australian animation director Alex Grigg has collaborated with student organisers of Greta Thunberg’s School Strike for Climate and international animators to create a short campaign film for the upcoming Global Climate Strike on 20 September. The film sees a female protagonist, inspired by Eleven from Stranger Things, using her powers to fight a giant, amorphous monster made from oil and coal.
Using pared-back, black and white, line-drawn illustration, the animation uses simplicity as its strength. “I’m always drawn to simplicity in design and animation,” Grigg tells It’s Nice That. “Because this was unfunded and had a really tight deadline, that simplicity helped us focus on story, character and energy rather than big technical hurdles.” Also, while the character design drew inspiration from Eleven, Grigg says, the style also alluded to “my teenage years of watching late night anime,” he explains.
The project came about when Grigg’s friend in Sydney, creative director Simon Robson, chatted to student organisers of the School Strike for Climate and offered to lend them some support promoting the global march in September. “He, like me, had been blown away by the political movement that the student protesters were building and was eager to do what he could to help boost their message,” Grigg continues. “After he’d talked through his rough idea about a student character ‘fighting back’ fossil fuels with supernatural protest powers, we immediately started talking about ways to make the film happen.”
Once Grigg designed and storyboarded the film, he reached out to animation friends in Australia and in the UK to see if they’d like to donate some time to the project. “Amazingly they all signed up. We also had some vital help from my old Sydney studio friends, Mighty Nice. The hierarchy here felt very flat compared to typical client projects. Our team were really generous with their time and we trusted them to surprise us with how they tackled their animation. There’d be the occasional note to try and keep things consistent, as always, but generally everyone did a great job interpreting their shots as they saw fit.”
“It’s also worth mentioning that the students were involved throughout,” concludes Grigg. “They had a specific message and tone that they wanted and kept us on track in that respect throughout the production.”
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