Unknown Creature Washed Ashore in the U.K. Has a Haunting Message for Humans

Tom Tagholm directs 'Creature'

What would sea creatures tell us if they could? 

Tom Tagholm, the celebrated director of Chanel 4's "Meet the Superhumans" for the Paralympic Games in 2012, has written and directed a new short film about a mysterious visitor from the depths—a previously undiscovered animal who embodies the tragedy unfolding in our oceans today. 

Watch the film here: 

While presented in a documentary style, the haunting story is fictional—though its subject matter is all too real. One sea bird or marine mammal dies every 30 seconds from plastic pollution. The campaign, created for Surfers Against Sewage, calls on people from across the U.K. to sign a #GenerationSea petition to lobby the prime minister to introduce legislative change to save the seas and its creatures. 

Tagholm, repped by Park Pictures, is himself a surfer. He cast local surfers and supporters of the charity in Cornwall to be in the piece. Anarchy Ltd built the creature itself, which was animated by MPC London. (It's somewhat reminiscent of the plastic whale that Greenpeace built on a beach in the Philippines.)

"As a surfer, I wanted to do what I could to help," Tagholm says. "Park Pictures share a tendency towards political and environmental engagement, so the desire was there to do some work. The idea for 'Creature' came when I was out in the water. I wondered what could be out there in the deep. And what might be suffering before we've even had a chance to meet." 

He adds: "We worked slowly and methodically with designer Kate McConnell over months looking at the evolutionary logic of our creature—how she might defy certain elements of known biology but also incorporate and combine other aspects that aren't believed to go together. For example, you'll see she has gills as well as its blowholes, and of course there's her panic response at the end of the film, which hints at an energy we'll never really understand. 

"Over the years I'd watched my brother Hugo tirelessly fight the plastic polluting industry, and just as tirelessly unite human beings who care. This sense of community is ultimately what the film is about; what I wanted to capture. There's a love there and it's what SAS is all about—I was very proud to be a part of their world for the days we were down there."

"Every year, new and unique ocean-dwelling creatures are being discovered in the depths of the marine world. Meanwhile, humankind is treating our sea as a 'single-use ocean'—filling it with plastic, changing its chemistry through carbon emissions and stripping it of all natural abundance," says Ben Hewitt, director of campaigns and projects at SAS. 

"We've built 'Creature' to represent the sea life that people are destroying without even being aware of it. People will only thrive if our ocean thrives. At present, we're sleep-walking into slaughter—but it's not too late. With the help of the general public and policy makers, we can ensure our oceans remain a place that our sea life can continue to flourish in. Ignore this warning, however, and we risk the next generation never knowing many of the species we've all grown up with."

CREDITS

Production
Production Company: Park Pictures
Writer & Director: Tom Tagholm
Executive Producer: Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Lance Acord, Stephen Brierley
Producer: Fran Thompson
Production Manager: Rosie Marchant
Production Assistant: Fred Deedes
Executive Producer, Head of Production: Sophie Hubble
Assistant Producer: Freya Silk
Sales & Marketing: Bethany Reilly, Frankie Singler
Director of Photography: Luke Jacobs
Production Designer: Simon Davis
1st AD: Joe Carter
2nd AD: Charlie Hibbert
Runner: Emma Jones, Elle Parsons
Location Manager: Algy Sloane
Location Assistant: Conor White Andrews
Model Makers: Anarchy Ltd
Creature Concept Artist: Kate McConnell
Tech Supervisor: Jason Szukalski
Senior Technician: Jim Bones
Tech: James Churches, Joseph Szukalski, Andre Masters
Editing Company: Stitch
Editor: Tim Hardy
Editor's Assistant: Chris Wilson
Post Production: Mpc
Executive Producer: Amy Richardson
2D VFX Supervisor : Tom Harding, Marcus Dryden
3D VFX Supervisor: Dominic Alderson
3D Artist: Matilde Nygaard Vinther
Colorist: George Kyriacou
Producer (Bangalore): Abhinav Sharda
3D Supervisor (Bangalore): Mark Robinson
2D Supervisor (Bangalore): David Rouxal
Asset: Divya Vijay
Rigger: Yeswanth
Animation Lead: Ankan Sandal
Artist: Ambalika Nandy
Match-Move: Tejaswini N / Shrishti Sandal
Comp: Uday Veerapali / Pratyush Paruchuri
Sound: Wave Studios
Sound Design: Ned Sisson
Sound Design Producer: Rebecca Boswell
Music Composer: Jamie Masters (Adelphoi)
Music Producer: Jeremy Newton (Adelphoi)
Cast
Graham Francis Bacon
Maisy Bond
Hugo Brown
Dora Carter
Sylvie Carter
Kate Entwistle
Atticus Felstead
Kate De Freitas
Lewis Jones
Jessica Kinton
Kristian Lannen
Joe Owens
Jill Paul
Luke Parkinson
Tim Polson
Romy Sloane
Ossian Sloane
Sidney Sloane
Hazel Sloane

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards.