In the history of silent film, an artistic medium that dates back to the late 1870s, it’s hard to imagine a greater task being asked of such a few moving images: to get a person—who lives in New York City, at least—to travel 10,000 miles after watching a 15-second silent cartoon. That’s 666 miles a second. Such is the cleverness, not to mention charm, of four animated shorts the travel site Fathom produced in collaboration with Qantas Airways.
Pavia Rosati, founder of Fathom and creative mind behind the animated shorts, was clear in wanting a lighthearted way to address legitimate travel concerns. Cue Alvie and Joey, the stylized cartoon creatures who deliver on that premise—without the assistance of a single word of dialogue, just a sweeping orchestral score. “So much travel marketing is: We’re so slick. We’re so elegant. We’re so poised. Everything looks like a brochure,” explains Rosati. “We wanted a fresh angle.”
It’s difficult to get much fresher than Joey, the impossibly cute monkey-like thing who basks in the sunshine Down Under when not toasting a nice bottle with his kangaroo and koala sidekicks. Alvie, meanwhile, is a chemistry flask–shaped, purple-hued sad sack who suffers through the worst of what travel has to offer: being trampled out front of the Colosseum, riding a bus amidst a cacophony of chickens, getting an eye-full of iPhones and cameras when trying to view world masterpieces… Despite poor Alvie’s misadventures, the storytellers never lose their delightfully light, almost slapstick comic touch.
Rosati enlisted the help of New York–based production and creative services firm The Bindery to execute her vision. Written and directed by Michael Goldberg, whose credits include work on Sesame Street, and produced by the firm’s founder, Greg Beauchamp, the duo cite vintage Looney Tunes cartoons and the Animaniacs’ segment “Good Idea, Bad Idea” as inspiration. As Goldberg explains of the process, “The goal was to do these as completely silent spots. Just visuals and music, so if it’s sad, it’s extremely sad. If it’s happy, it’s extremely happy.” Message received loud and clear: happy happens in Australia.
View all of the animations on the Qantas site.
Images courtesy of Fathom