The Best Work You May Never See: Park Pictures' Tom Tagholm Writes, Directs Surfers Against Sewage's "Creature"


Robert Goldrich
Wednesday, May. 1, 2019


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Written and directed by Tom Tagholm of Park Pictures, this short film titled Creature tells the story of a giant and previously undiscovered animal that has washed ashore on a remote U.K. beach. People try to save the creature as it fights for its life, pouring buckets of water on it and removing plastic and trash from its gills and blowholes. What follows is the chronicling of the last hours of the creature’s existence, as locals, beach goers and marine biologists are interviewed about what they’ve witnessed. From this, a stark awareness emerges--we spend billions looking for life and wonder out in the cosmos, but the magic is here. And we’re killing it.

This short was made in partnership with Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), an environmental charity protecting the U.K.’s oceans and beaches. Set and shot in Cornwall, U.K., the home of SAS, Creature features a cast of local surfers and supporters of the charity. The creature was built full scale by the team at Anarchy Ltd and augmented and animated by MPC London and Bangalore. Tim Hardy of Stitch cut the short, with music from Adelphoi and audio post done at Wave Studios.

With 95% of the planet’s oceans unexplored, and scientists knowing more about the face of Mars than the sea floor, SAS wants to highlight the threat of plastic pollution to the many species that are yet to be uncovered, as well as those that are already known to be dying as a result of man’s actions.

SAS is calling on people from across the U.K. to sign its #GenerationSea petition to lobby the Prime Minister to introduce legislative change to save the seas, and the creatures that live within them. The petition hopes to see the government take decisive action before it’s too late and establish a powerful independent watchdog to protect the oceans and wider natural environment, while enforcing specific targets relating to plastic waste and carbon emissions for government and big business.

“As a surfer, I wanted to do what I could to help. Park Pictures shares 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,” said Tagholm. “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.”

Tagholm continued, “Over the years I’d watched my brother Hugo (chief exec of SAS) 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.”

Dominic Alderson, MPC’s 3D supervisor, noted, “It’s great to see an ad convey the importance of protecting the creatures on our planet, so it was imperative that MPC managed to convey a living breathing creature even if still undiscovered. If you can look into the creature’s eyes and feel its pain then you are connecting with your audience, so to this end we spent a lot of time perfecting the look and movement of its eye.”


Client Surfers Against Sewage Production Park Pictures Tom Tagholm, writer/director; Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Lance Acord, Stephen Brierley, executive producers; Fran Thompson, producer; Rosie Marchant, production manager; Fred Deedes, production assistant; Sophie Hubble, executive producer/head of production; Freya Silk, assistant producer; Luke Jacobs, DP; Simon Davis, production designer; Joe Carter, 1st AD; Charlie Hibbert, 2nd AD; Algy Sloane, location manager; Conor White Andrews, location assistant. Editorial Stitch Tim Hardy, editor; Chris Wilson, editor’s assistant. Visual Effects/Animation MPC, London and Bangalore Amy Richardson, exec producer; Tom Harding, Marcus Dryden, 2D VFX supervisors; Dominic Alderson, 3D VFX supervisor; Matilde Nygaard Vinther, 3D artist; George K., colorist; Abhinav Sharda, producer; Mark Robinson, 3D supervisor; David Rouxal, 2D supervisor; Divya Vijay, asset; Yeswanth, rigger; Ankan Sanyal, animation lead; Ambalika Nandy, artist; Tejaswini N, Shristi Sandal, match move; Uday Veerapali, Pratyush Paruchuri, compositing (Toolbox: Mudbox, Zbrush, Mari, Flame, Nuke) Modelmakers Anarchy Ltd., Watford, UK Kate McConnell, creature concept artist; Jason Szukalski, tech supervisor; Jim Bones, sr. technician; James Churches, Joseph Szukalski, Andre Masters, tech. Sound Wave Studios Ned Sisson, sound designer; Rebecca Boswell, sound design producer. Music Adelphoi Jamie Master, composer; Jeremy Newton, music producer. 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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