The Trash Fairy
We wanted our first project to be an animated short film as opposed to a feature length documentary film, because an animated short can be produced less expensively and much faster than an hour long documentary style production. And with no product yet to show our supporters, we felt that getting something up on film, no matter how small in scale, would be a smart move.
We came up with a variety of ideas for the animated short. One involved a bear that found a disposable coffee cup in the woods and tracked down the source of the trash cup – a local coffee shop. The bear explained to the shop owner the destruction the cups were causing to the forest and meadows and worked with the shop owner to develop a line of compostable cups that would not cause pollution or harm to the environment as they decomposed. As we got more into the story, we realized that the idea of having a cup that decomposes (even though it may not cause as much harm to the environment) still supports a “throw-away” mentality. It tells folks that it is OK to buy something and then just throw it away 30 minutes later. The coffee shop owner might be giving folks a responsible product to throw away, but if the idea of a throw-away society is supported, there is no guarantee that other shop owners would be as responsible. And so this story felt like it was sending the wrong message.
Our second idea was a about a character that went into the store to buy a product and couldn’t decide which one to get – the convenient, cheap option with all the fancy packaging, or the less convenient but environmentally friendly option. A Devil on one shoulder and an Angel on the other try to influence his decision process. The Angel teaches him about the power of his “Dollar Vote” in affecting which products remain on the store shelves and the Devil wants him to get the convenient option so they can get out of the store. His mind is finally made up after a pretty girl walks down the aisle, grabs the environmentally friendly option, and states that she is just exercising HER Dollar Vote. He smashes the Devil on the one shoulder and walks out with the environmentally friendly option himself. Although it makes for a good story and would lend itself very well to the animation process, we felt that there were some other alternatives involved in the character’s decision process (other than being responsible with his choices) and the cartoon did not support what we are trying to teach. So we opted not to develop this storyline.
While exploring these concepts, we realized that it was not a specific story we were after, but an engaging and entertaining character. Sort of a spokesperson for a trash free environment. The new generation’s Smoky the Bear. Having a big sense of humor and enjoying adult themed humor in children’s productions (think Rocky & Bullwinkle); we couldn’t bring ourselves to create a warm and fuzzy happy trash bunny. We wanted something that the little kid that still exists in all of us would think was funny. So we came up with the idea of a Trash Fairy. A sort of New Jersey sanitation worker type that goes from trash can to trash can explaining to people how their trash habits can affect their environment.
We liked the idea from the start and saw a lot of potential for a gruff looking sanitation worker that teaches people environmentally friendly practices. We also saw a lot of potential for the character designer and for the animators. In the animation world this is a plus as it gives the designer and animators a creative head start, and keeps them from the almost impossible task of trying to turn a cruddy idea into something funny.
As per the designs shown here, the designer had no problem hitting a home run with the character model. In fact, he nailed it on the first try. The only modifications we made to his character model were to his hard hat because it looked more like a beanie in the original design.
We will use the Trash Fairy in a variety of animated short films and in some of our feature length documentaries as well. He will spend his time showing people how slight changes in their consumption and trash habits can have far reaching and positive effects. And he will also be the star of our first animated short film, entitled appropriately enough, The Trash Fairy.
Personally, we love him. Our dream is that he becomes part of the culture of a generation. Where you and I may have Bart Simpson or Kermit the Frog, we hope the next generation has the Trash Fairy stuck in their heads for years to come.
Long live the Trash Fairy.
Bret Babos, President