A collection of 10 animated shorts written and voiced by Irish-speaking school children.
The social effects of widespread lockdowns will be studied for years to come. Of all the affected demographics, primary school children did not get off lightly. Despite how many of them were probably feeling at the start. A sudden separation from their peers, additional domestic stress, complications around study, and general uncertainty about global health is not an easy thing for young people to wrap their heads around.
And then suddenly… They’re back at school like nothing happened.
Newry, Mourne, and Down District Council wanted to take advantage of this transitioning period, and give young Irish-speaking children the opportunity to reflect and express themselves. Irish content for young audiences is a market that isn’t catered to particularly well, and this was a chance for them to shape some of that content while also helping them process everything that had happened during the lockdown.
We worked with the NMDD Council across the development and production process of the entire project from briefing to final delivery.
Our research and discovery phase led to the development of a workshop facilitated by Jacqueline De Brun alongside two primary 7 classes in the Newry area. The pupils were briefed with themes, prompts, and storytelling techniques to help inspire them to tell stories that were important to them. As we wanted this to be a fun and playful project for the children, we encouraged them to explore fictional and fantasy-based elements alongside the recent memories of covid and the lockdown.
The result was a selection of 40 stories across a very broad style and subject matter ranging from outright fantasy to factual accounts of lockdown, and everything in between. We carefully curated the submissions to a shortlist of 10 stories that gave us a terrific cross-section of imagination and human experience. The result is a selection that is sometimes wild and comical, and sometimes thought-provoking and somber.
Once we had the shortlist signed off, we developed the stories into short scripts and began the animation production process.
As this was our first Irish language project, we were very fortunate to work with Newry-based studio Zoogon, who helped us hire and record local Irish-speaking talent for the production.
Despite adopting a relatively simple 2d aesthetic, the range of storytelling across all episodes provided a tight workload and gave us lots of opportunity to explore some funny and often delicate visual ideas. We amplified the aesthetic by giving it a slight vintage treatment that comes across in the frame style and the music composition.
Working on creative projects with children is always fun, and this project was no exception. Additionally, it gave us a direct perspective and reminder of what some children had to go through during lockdown. It was an honor to point a torch towards their playful imaginations and bring these stories to life.
Unbelievable will be available to watch on Meon Eile and other channels in 2023