Extinction Rebellion’s latest animation calls for The Gigantic Change

Whoopi Goldberg narrates a new film by Extinction Rebellion illustrating that now is the time to act to secure a brighter future.

10 June 2020


In a new and moving film by Extinction Rebellion and Passion Pictures, the one and only Whoopi Goldberg lends her voice to narrate a plot around how now is the time to plan how we might “rebuild our world post-Covid”. Ultimately showcasing how a brighter future is certainly possible, the animated short weaves this narrative through the plot of a bed time story. Overall it showcases how “Climate change is an existential threat to people of all ages and backgrounds,” says Extinction Rebellion. “The need for collective action has never been greater.”

Joint directed by George Lewin – a London-based designer, visual artist and environmental activist – and Nicola Jane Francis – an animation director who also co-wrote the short – the initial idea stemmed from the possibility that “a beautiful, sustainable future is in fact possible, where we live in harmony with nature rather than trying to be its master,” says George. “But this won’t happen if we continue as we are – quite the opposite.”

Depicting this reality through the relationship of a grandmother and granddaughter, the short is set in 2050 – specially chosen as “the date many countries have committed to reach net zero carbon,” points out the co-director. “A year when we’ll know if the action we took was enough.” It’s a concept George had in mind for a while too, but only became a reality once he found the right animator, spotting Nicola’s work at the Central Saint Martins MA Show. Proposing the possibility of the film to her, the pair then approached Serena Schellenberg, an original member of Extinction Rebellion and a TV producer. “She was instantly hooked, and determined to make it happen,” says George, “and went on to secure amazing talent for the film such as Whoopi Goldberg [to voice the grandmother], Simon Chamberlain [music composer] and Livia Nelson [to voice the granddaughter].”

Initially funded through a crowd funding campaign, followed by the support of Passion Pictures, the finished short is a brilliant example of how hand illustrated animation can convey a meaningful message. Purposefully using 2D frame-by-frame animation made in Photoshop, to evoke a style “that is made by human hands” for a project “about humanity”, each aesthetic decision was made with thoughtfulness. Within this illustrative style a specific colour palette was also necessary to represent either a darker, negative future, in comparison to a brighter alternative enhanced by nature. As George explains: “The interior scene with our grandmother and granddaughter characters are neutral. However, the story world evolves and blooms with blues and corals as the granddaughter breathes life into it through her imagination. We wanted the contrast to really hit home to the audience what could be our future, if we do or do not act as the film encourages us to.”

Now released, the team’s simple goal is for the film to reach as many audiences as possible. At its heart it’s a “clear universal message to inspire people of all ages backgrounds: Take action today to help build a better future. As the public wakes up to the realties of the climate emergency, the film illustrates the tough journey we have ahead of us. But crucially, that the world we dream of is possible if we all work together.”

GalleryExtinction Rebellion x Passion Pictures: The Gigantic Change

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.


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