Extinction Rebellion asks whether we really want to go back to 'normal' after the pandemic

The environmental activist group is also asking people to take part in silent protests

Published On
May 28, 2020

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As some countries start to ease up on coronavirus restrictions, environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion questions whether we really want to go back to "normal" after the pandemic in a new PSA made by creatives in London and Sydney.

The film juxtaposes footage of empty cityscapes, stores and restaurants with audio clips from a pre-lockdown "normal" life. As well as everyday noises of the city there are stock market traders shouting, news reports about bush fires, people buying fast food and mall announcements about Black Friday, as well as President Trump announcing U.S. withdrawal from the the Paris Climate Accord. The release of the film coincides with Extinction Rebellion calling for people to stage silent protests this Saturday, May 30, at noon in the U.K. 

The film, shot in Sydney, was a collaboration between London creatives Luke O’Driscoll and Marco Mollo and Australia’s Milos Mlynarik and Tim Arnold. “We were questioning everyone talking about the new normal. And with that it implied that how we were living before was 'normal.' But in many ways, it was anything but," explains Mollo.

Mollo says personal work from his friend, Sydney-based photographer Milos Mlynarik, helped to spark the idea. He "was out of work, like many freelancers due to the corona crisis, and he had shot some really striking, almost haunting shots of the empty city," he says. 

"It got Luke O’Driscoll, my creative partner, and I thinking about using that and we came together to devise the concept." Mlynarik then brought in filmmaker and sound designer Tim Arnold, who worked through hours of audio clips—"everything from a 2010 Wall Street flash crash to Michael O’Leary of Ryanair talking about insane levels of flying and create the crazy soundscape to contrast the calming visuals," Mollo says.

On the conflict between advertising and Extinction Rebellion’s goals, “As people that work in advertising, we are aware that we can also be part of the problem," says O’Driscoll. "But I believe brands and a healthy planet are not mutually exclusive. That now, more so than ever, is the time for ad agencies to help guide their clients to a more sustainable, ethical future. And I think that’s really what this film is saying, that a better future is possible, and this is our chance to make that a reality.”