With her third animated short film, British producer Jessica Wheeler created a small sensory snapshot of a world where the biology of humans has changed in order to adapt to the decayed ecological systems on the planet. Systems that once kept things in balance are now broken and the symbiosis between humans and natural world looks very different. "As humans we find it hard to comprehend our own demise or a world we don’t recognise. Wildfires, shape-shifting seasons and extreme flooding, these are things to fear but after a brief solemn moment of contemplation, most sigh and get back to the day ahead", says the filmmaker.
"I am interested in how art has a way of wiggling into our subconscious in quiet and complex ways. It can frame the hardest topics and make them easier to look at. Animation has the potential to bring extremely difficult textures of the human condition into motion and make them palatable." In Growing Plains the plains are populated with beds. The life-support systems on the planet are broken and decayed. What is left is a new system, refined over recent generations, an exchange between human and bird. We see the cautious approach of a bird towards a human. What follows is a trade that marks an essential symbiosis.
The film is inspired by the idea that art can lead to conversations about environmental issues without being didactic or showing explicitly one person’s view. "My intention was to be tactile with a truth that may or may not occur, to create an uncanny world that might just alter a tired perspective", Jessica Wheeler stresses. Through her collaboration with animator Olga Solyar materializes an uncanny world where humans rely on birds for survival. The convincing sound design and ambient tones to weave a deep and intricate soundscape was composed by Miles R. Stracey and Lewis Johnson-Kellett.
Growing Plains also addresses concerns with how wasteful the stop motion animation industry is. "We made sure everything created for the film was used in shot, with an effort to use sustainable or natural materials", underlines Jessica Wheeler. Produced by Tyneside Cinema, Growing Plains is a BBC New Creatives commission, supported by BBC Arts & Arts Council England. The film will be aired in the BBC4 program on December 12 at 9.30pm CEST/10.30pm GMT.
Photo/Video: © Courtesy of Jessica Wheeler/Tyneside Cinema