Nexus' Johnny Kelly Creates Animated Short for Chipotle Cultivate Foundation

Willie Nelson, Coldplay, the US restaurant chain Chipotle and Nexus animation director Johnny Kelly have made a creative alliance to create BACK TO THE START, a short animated film highlighting the issue of sustainable farming.

Nexus' Chipotle BACK TO THE START short

Press Release from Nexus

Willie Nelson, Coldplay, the US restaurant chain Chipotle and Nexus animation director Johnny Kelly have made a creative alliance to create BACK TO THE START, a short animated film highlighting the issue of sustainable farming.

Chipotle founder Steve Ells met with Johnny Kelly and the Nexus team in London to talk about his passionate efforts to source food on a more sustainable and ethical basis at his chain of more than 1000 restaurants.  An articulate advocate of improving the food supply process, he has gone on to create The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation to support organizations working to help family farmers, animals and the environment.   The film is a result of this conversation.

The story features a farmer who begins a career in farming with good intentions but is soon overrun by the process of a mechanized industrial factory farm.  In an epiphany that echoes Steve Ells’ own realization, the farmer dramatically turns his back on this system to try to build a farm using more sustainable methods.

Music legend Willie Nelson, well known for his support of family farmers, was a perfect collaborator for the music.  His cover of Coldplay’s highly evocative track “The Scientist,” movingly underscores the animation with Nelson’s voice experience.

The pace and timeline of the film is captured beautifully in camera using traditional stop frame model animation techniques to track the life of a farmer.  Filmed in one sweeping take the film was painstakingly animated over 4-weeks on one large all-encompassing model background.

The track has been released on iTunes with 60 cents from every sale going to the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation.  The film will be shown in advance of feature films across the US.

Director Johnny Kelly said of the film:

“The brief for the film was very open, but we were given a comprehensive list of topics and themes to include - animal welfare, organic farming, the use of antibiotics on livestock, crop rotation, water pollution and lots of other things that are hard to animate..! Our biggest challenge was including all of these weighty topics in some form of animated short film without it come across as a heavy-handed lecture. Chipotle suggested that it have an information graphic feel - like a flow chart - and through careful planning with our previs artists here at Nexus we were able to plan one fluid camera move that would touch on all of these subjects one after another.

Creating this for real with a physical set and animatable characters threw up another set of challenges. Our producer Liz put together a crack team of problem-solvers who were able to overcome almost any obstacle. Examples of said obstacles include: how to create a miniature vat full of growth hormonal fluid (lots and lots of KY Jelly), calculating how many trees it takes to fill a 100 foot wide set (874), as well as finding ways to stay sane on an intensive four week stop motion shoot (lunch-time jokes and lots of table football).”

NEXUS CREDIT LIST:

Client:                    ChipotleAgency:                 CAA and ChipotleTitle:                     Back To The StartLength:                 2:20

Production Company:         NexusNexus Director:             Johnny KellyNexus Exec Producer:     Cedric Gairard, Chris O’Reilly Charlotte BavassoNexus Producer:             Liz ChanNexus Production Managers    :    Claire Thompson, Alistair PrattenDirector of Photography:         Matt DayCamera Assistant:             Max HalsteadCharacter Animator:             Gary CuretonSet Animator:                 Matt CooperCompositors:                 Alasdair Brotherston, John TaylorProduction Designer:             Graham StaughtonArt Department:             Gordon Allen, Ben Côté, Joe KirtonStudio Manager:             Elizabeth DayModels:                 Bob @ ArtemMusic Supervision:              David Leinhart at Duotone AudioMusic Producers:             Justin Stanley and Doyle BramhallContent Manager:             Liz GravesArtist:                     Willie NelsonSound Design:             Barnaby Templer @ Fonic

Model Assistant:             Joe James

Electrician:                 Aldo Camileri

Model Rigger:             Gary Faulkner

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