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Studio Birthplace’s catalysts for positive change
A selection of curated media lists from our global community
words – studio birthplace
location – worldwide
The harsh reality is that we are struggling amidst a climate emergency, immense inequality and the looming threat of a sixth mass extinction. As humans, it is our responsibility to shed light on these pressing issues, regardless of their overwhelming and intricate nature. At Studio Birthplace, we firmly believe that change begins with awareness. Guided by this principle, we are proud to present a thoughtfully curated collection of environmentally focussed visual projects, including our own, that not only captivate and inspire but also serve as catalysts for positive change.
There’s no way we could start this list without diving into our music video, “Birthplace,” for Novo Amor. Filmed entirely underwater, the video tells the symbolic story of a man arriving in a pristine ocean, only to confront his nemesis – plastic. Eventually, he is devoured whole by a whale made of plastic trash, a metaphor for the self-inflicting catastrophe we find ourselves in. With this film, we wanted the audience to fall in love with the ocean before inciting heartbreak to drive home the urgent issue of plastic pollution in this vital environment. The impact of this music video resonated with us so deeply that it led to the inception of Studio Birthplace: a filmmaking studio dedicated to telling environmental stories for our Earth, our birthplace.
02_The Man Who Planted Trees
“The Man Who Planted Trees” is an animated short film based on Jean Giono’s eponymous story, written in 1953. It was a source of inspiration to us during our studio’s early days, as it demonstrated to us the exact beauty of what can happen when we use the unique medium of animation to portray an emotional story. How does one’s heart not soar when seeing the literal colour and life our titular protagonist brings to the once deserted land? It serves as a reminder to all of us that we have the potential to make a difference, one tree at a time.
We believe in the power of comedy to illuminate the darkest corners of our world. “Wasteminster,” our short film produced for Greenpeace, envisions a scenario where the daily amount of plastic waste the UK exports to developing countries is dumped on Downing Street. Using satire, we shed light on the plastic pollution crisis created by the UK and emphasise the urgent need for governmental action. Through this film, we wanted to explore if we could make visible the incredible data related to humanity’s impact on our planet, creating a picture from the numbers to highlight the urgency of the situation.
Derived from the Hopi word for “life out of balance,” “Koyaanisqatsi” is a renowned documentary that exposes how humanity has drifted away from nature. Through breathtaking footage of natural landscapes and elemental forces, juxtaposed with scenes of modern civilisation and technology, the film poignantly portrays the disconnection between humanity and the environment. The film, which was released in 1982, serves as a wake-up call – urging us to reassess our relationship with the natural world in a message that is ever more relevant day by day.
One of our most recent works, “Broken Wings” is our unique documentary-music film that unveils the untold story of bird poaching in Southeast Asia. By exposing the massive scale of forest depletion and the imminent threat of extinction faced by over 1,500 bird species, we aim to instil a sense of urgency and mobilise efforts to protect our winged friends. Our approach was to tell the story through a bird’s point of view, illustrating the heartbreaking journey birds make from flying free in nature to being confined in a cage in a city.
06_Ashes and Snow
Gregory Colbert’s “Ashes and Snow” embarks on a mesmerising journey, capturing extraordinary interactions between humans and animals. The film, and overall project, serves as a reminder to us about how similar we are to each other, as animals are just like humans: they have feelings, personalities and desires. It challenges us to change our perspective and treat animals with compassion and respect.
“Haze-zilla” is a satire highlighting the destructive impact of corporate greed and transboundary haze. The film brings to attention the urgent need for legal measures to ensure that Malaysian companies will not contribute to haze locally and abroad. Made in a movie-style trailer with the tagline “COMING SOON,” we wanted to build upon the nostalgia and familiarity of “Godzilla.” However, instead of focusing on fictional monsters, we focus on a very real threat: without immediate action, this recurring environmental crisis fueled by Malaysian companies will persist. By shedding light on the urgent need for legal measures, we seek to rally support for lasting change.
Here’s a film that took on a gargantuan undertaking: “Samsara” was filmed over nearly five years, in 25 countries, on five continents. Shot on 70mm film, Samsara takes us on a voyage to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes and natural wonders.
Director Bong Joon Ho explores the ethical dilemma surrounding factory farming and animal welfare in this must watch. “Okja” follows the story of Mija, a young girl who forms a deep bond with a genetically modified super pig named Okja. Painted in hues of raw emotion and unyielding passion, it highlights the unsustainable practices of industrial agriculture – exposing the cruelty and disregard for animal life inherent in the pursuit of profit. Through its emotional storytelling and vivid imagery, the film compels viewers to contemplate the consequences of our consumer choices and the urgent need for more compassionate and sustainable food systems.
10_Don’t Look Up
It’s always good to see Hollywood producing films that address the environment. “Don’t Look Up” bravely tackles society’s complacency towards climate change through a satirical lens. With sharp wit and humour, it exposes the apathy, denial and political machinations that hinder urgent action on this pressing global crisis. By twisting on its head the wall of indifference, the film urges reflection on the consequences of our collective choices and ignites a yearning for a more conscientious and sustainable future. It challenges viewers to question their own complicity, serving as an invitation to reshape our perceptions and cultivate a shared resolve to protect and heal our ailing Earth.
A note: Each month, we update our site as part of our efforts to reduce the environmental impact of our digital estate. The global emissions from the digital industry are on a par with those from the aviation industry, at almost 2% of total global emissions. What’s worse, this is increasing year on year. In an effort to lessen our impact, each month we compress and archive previous features and update our site with new content. Throughout the month, our current features are available to all to enjoy; our full digital archive is accessible to boom saloon members, in thanks for their support to use creativity to inspire and empower those facing challenges. Support our work and become a member by clicking here.