Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad Strike Out for a Wilder Future

Sir David Attenborough, Stephen Fry, Catherine Tate, Alison Steadman and Asim Chaudhry are backing a new campaign for The Wildlife Trusts, calling for nature’s recovery in the UK. We’re featuring it to our lovely readers all over the world, however, as this is by no means the only country in the world for whom this campaign is relevant.

The new ‘Wind in the Willows: Official Trailer’ brings to life the 21st century threats facing the much-loved characters from the children’s classic. The animated trailer calls on everyone to help bring our wildlife back and secure a wilder future, before it’s too late.

Created by advertising agency, Don’t Panic, and produced by animation house, Rowdy, the film trailer shows how the lives of Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad are disrupted by bulldozers, pollution and intensive agriculture. Their homes are destroyed and broken up and the wild landscape they need to flourish within, is now a hostile and poisoned place.

Kenneth Grahame wrote The Wind in the Willows just over a hundred years ago. In the last fifty years alone, we know that over half of our species have declined – mainly due to climate change and habitat loss/degradation from farming or inappropriate development. Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad are being disrupted by bulldozers, pollution and intensive agriculture. These losses have led to the UK becoming one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world.

Stephanie Hilborne, CEO, The Wildlife Trusts said “We are a nation of nature-lovers, yet we live in one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. If we want to put nature into recovery we have to create a mass movement of people calling for change. Our film is a sad version of The Wind in the Willows – showing how Ratty and Toad have hit the buffers – but it ends with a message of real hope. It’s not too late to create strong laws which will help our wildlife make a comeback – and it’s not too late to establish a Nature Recovery Network which will enable us to plan a wilder future.”

Sir David Attenborough, President Emeritus of The Wildlife Trusts, says: “I am backing The Wildlife Trusts’ campaign to rally people to secure a “wilder future” by restoring large areas of wildlife habitat, in city and country. What we create may not look exactly like the countryside that Kenneth Grahame drew such inspiration from, but our wildlife won’t mind just so long as it has the places it needs to live and thrive. As a society we know how to put meanders back into straightened rivers and how to build bridges for wildlife. We know which wild places we should be protecting and expanding. But we need ambitious new laws to ensure we do this, laws that ensure we map out nature’s recovery.

Meanwhile we can all make a practical difference. If you have a window sill or balcony you can put up bird feeders or plant pots of wildflowers. If you have a garden it is easy to dig a small pond or make holes in your fence for hedgehogs to wander through. It is not too difficult to take up paving
slabs to let plants grow to feed our bees. Together we can make the next chapter for wildlife a happier one. Join us to put nature into recovery.”

The Wildlife Trusts hope The Wind in the Willows film trailer will inspire people to help by nature by:
● Contacting politicians – to call for strong environmental laws which help nature recover.
● Walking in the pawprints of others – and imagine what wildlife needs to survive in your neighbourhood. Be inspired to take action for wildlife in your garden or local area, working with friends, neighbours – or by getting your local council involved – to create new homes for Toad, Ratty, Badger and friends.
● Creating a Wilder Future where you live – by checking out the latest events and volunteering opportunities at local Wildlife Trusts to discover what a Wilder Future could look like – and the part everyone can play in making it happen.

Ellie Moore, Head of Engagement, Don’t Panic said “Our campaign strategy focused on creating a strong sense of nostalgia to make the problem relatable to supporters of all ages. By using a trailer mechanic we’re also able to distribute key content in familiar formats, making people look twice and creating a value exchange through the reveal. The launch film will be promoted primarily through social to optimise for peer engagement, supported by a one week cinema run on screens across the UK, as donated by DCM. We’ll then employ a retargeting strategy to usher new supporters through our user journey and encourage them to take personal actions to save our wildlife throughout Spring.”

Shot over 20 days at Rowdy’s London studios, the trailer uses stop-frame animation and was shot on a Canon D5 MK III with Zeiss master prime lenses. Mainly focused on the correct genus of the species and influenced by the original illustrations, the characters and scenes were created by the team behind Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs.

Thomas O’Meara, Director, Rowdy: “We’re really happy to have made this film for The Wildlife Trusts because we think it’s such a brilliant idea: taking the classic story of Wind in the Willows and subverting the narrative half-way through to show the destruction and devastation that’s being caused to UK habitats and wildlife that lives there in 21st century UK.”

Matthew Day, Director, Rowdy said “I’d been reading Wind in the Willows to my son when we got the call – it seemed like a happy coincidence. People connect to this children’s story, but however much everyone says they love the countryside, they don’t think about it needing protection and that we how proactive we need to be to ensure it remains the same.”

Stephen Fry, President of the Great Fen, Wildlife Trust Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, who plays Badger, says: “I’ve acted in and narrated Wind in the Willows in the past but this version is different – it really, really matters. I adore what’s left of Britain’s wild and precious places and I’m a passionate supporter of my local Wildlife Trust which is restoring a huge part of the fens for nature. We all need to get behind The Wildlife Trusts, rise up and call for a wilder future – otherwise it’ll be too late to save Toad, Ratty and all the residents of the riverbank and beyond.”

While the film is made for the UK market and in a UK context, we think we can all agree that it applies to us all. Let’s create a better world for our wildlife!

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