WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
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WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?

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My design is a ritual wherein people would watch a disturbing documentary series about the dangerous trials a salmon fish encounters on a day-to-day basis. The key takeaway is for them to gain not only more insight into the hidden detrimental effects of human activity on fish populations, but also more empathy for sea life on a global scale so they could do their part in preserving marine biodiversity. Depending on the audience it reaches, this could range from planting gardens to reduce runoff and changing diets to integrating wetlands into building projects and revegetating.

I wanted to try my hand at a specific YouTube sub-genre that I noticed was quite popular with the younger generation with short attention spans. It used very simple visuals, but also had a very atypical and eerie type of storytelling. So, I decided to explore this extremely different style of video editing and writing when coming up with the plot, taking advantage of online content that’s already provided for the unique animation technique. It’s a five-episode mini series, each episode around 2-3 minutes long, and it would be uploaded on YouTube.

The main character is Mara, a neomale salmon in the Atlantic. The first episode talks about her life in the hatchery and exposes common fish farm methods like genetic modification for gender flexibility and rapid growth, as well as the preventative measures taken like sterilisation to avoid escaped fish from becoming an invasive species. The second episode is about her transition into the wild sea after her escape and her encounters with overfishing and microplastics. That’s when she meets a wild salmon named Angel and decides to help her spawn upstream for the third episode, which delves into the physiological effects of mine water pollution on fish, shown by the physical prop I made, and how their coping mechanisms with hypoxia and low oxygen and pH levels leads to increased predation and filial cannibalism. It also shows the stark difference in tolerance between wild and farmed fish, and Angel eventually dies after laying her eggs. The fourth episode centers around the destruction of spawning ground from coastal development and erosion, leading to the suffocation of all their eggs except three, who grow into fry. However, they get separated by a fish screen, often used for farm irrigation, and Mara passes out from the initial contact and the current’s powerful pressure. Finally, she wakes up in a dried-up canal that’s been shut off for the winter for the fifth episode. There are hundreds of fish on the brink of death beside her, and she has an existential conversation with a stranger. Just as she’s about to die, she’s rescued by a human crew and thrown back into the ocean.

I was able to make a script for one of the episodes, as well as a few storyboards. My thirty-second trailer gives a preview of how the series would look and I received lots of positive comments on its unparalleled educational premise and shock value.