Back Market’s cable monster questions our obsession with new devices

A short film directed by Johnny Kelly uses puppetry to spotlight the problems created by our insatiable hunger for the latest technology

As part of its new Tech Reborn campaign, Back Market, the online marketplace for refurbished electronics, has released a short film titled The Monster. Directed by Nexus Studios’ Johnny Kelly, the film tells a sweet story about how the buying of tech can be made more sustainable.

The film’s monster puppet protagonist – made from a messy bundle of old cables – pumps out brand new phones in a dark, foreboding landscape. But when he spits one of them at a young girl, she takes it upon herself to show just how damaging all these new devices are for the planet. She encourages the monster to instead refurbish old tech and make it new again.

Alongside the clever puppetry, Kelly and his team of artists, including acclaimed modelmaker Andy Gent, utilised stop motion, 2D animation, and various 3D techniques. The sets, puppets, and props were captured with photogrammetry beforehand to enable the team to “quickly visualise in a 3D space how the 2D animation [would] track on to the real-life puppet’s face”.

The puppets themselves were all hand-crafted and included three different versions of the Monster, which were brought to life by experienced puppeteers. The resulting film cleverly merges traditional art forms with new technology to great effect, using the familiar bounce and wobble of a puppet on strings to give the characters an endearing quality, while digital methods create a rich visual landscape.

“Assembled from the kind of cables you find in every drawer, in every home around the globe, Monster is a sort of big-tech ‘Mr. Messy’,” explains the director. “Behind the juggling phones and belching phablets however, is a slightly less silly message about our obsession with the new, and the havoc our over-consumption is wreaking on the world.”

Production Company: Nexus Studios
Director: Johnny Kelly
Puppet/Set Build: Andy Gent, Lisa Hill, Arch Model Studio