An Inconvenient Sequel Inspired by Paris Climate Agreement
2006 saw the release of the Academy Award winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, a film that followed former Vice President Al Gore’s pursuit of bringing the topic of global warming and climate change to the world at large. In 2017, the filmmakers returned with the follow-up An inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, which takes up where the first film left off, leading to the moment when Gore sees the signing of the landmark Paris Climate Agreement in 2016, a world-wide attempt to mitigate global warming. The sequel ends with the United States withdrawing from the agreement.
A film with a message of environmental safety and health on a global level needs marketing material that captures the tone and purpose of the film, without alienating or antagonizing the potential audience. As a leader in the creation of limited edition film posters for directors like Stanley Kubrick and Terrence Malick to the world of Marvel, DC and Disney, Austin based gallery Mondo set out to bring An Inconvenient Sequel to filmgoers and poster collectors through the release of illustrator Justin Santora‘s take on the film.
For Mondo, capturing the right tone was a priority. As managing director Justin Brookhart explains, “Tone was always going to be important for a project like this. We have only ever done a few documentary posters and they are always tricky to balance marketability with message. You want an image that people find striking enough to buy and hang on their wall, but one that also reminds you of the intent of the filmmaker.”
Santora was onboard with the approach. “I thought depicting Mount Rushmore surrounded by oil drills and a massive flood was a sort of two-pronged commentary about how nothing is sacred in unfettered capitalism, as well as what kind of legacy current political leaders will leave behind if our inaction on this matter propels us into an uncertain and dangerous future. I could have made the sky dark and stormy, with debris and destroyed houses being hurled through the air and floating in the water, but a calmer daytime scene seemed more appropriate. I was trying to convey a couple of different atmospheres at once. I hope fans of the film and its message will find the imagery compelling, while I fully expect there will be people who are decidedly less receptive to this poster, which is fine.”
Santora is an illustrator and printmaker based in the world of gig posters—an artist whose illustrations wordlessly address the relationship between the natural world and the man made. The decay of the industrial and the growth of the Earth-born. His poster work has never taken on the issue of global warming head on, but his art has always commented on the state of the world. In Santora’s words, “I think there’s almost always some kind of message running in the background of my illustrations and art, whether it’s themes of decay, catastrophe, man versus nature, etc. I tend to avoid overtly political imagery because I have a lot of trouble making work that delivers a blunt message while remaining effective as an illustration. There are plenty of artists out there who can do both of those things beautifully, I just don’t think I’m necessarily one of them. Doing as much commercial work as I do, it’s also crucial to not let a political statement hijack the main purpose of the work unless it’s particularly relevant to the client or the job.”
After seeing the film, Brookhart and Mondo creative director Eric Garza had an easy time choosing Santora. Brookhart goes on to explain, “We obviously wanted to go with a thematic approach that touched on the film’s message of preserving the earth and protecting it from radical climate change. Justin came to mind almost immediately. His gig poster work often incorporates really beautiful nature elements and we know him to be pretty passionate for progressive causes. As soon as we reached out he was on board and he was a pleasure to work with throughout the process. He had several great concepts and it was hard for us to pick just one, but we are very happy with the final result.”
Santora’s work goes from pencil sketches to inking and final color in Photoshop, but for An Inconvenient Sequel he went straight to digital with the drawing, knowing the quick turnaround time and also, as he explains, “I could correct mistakes more quickly. I knew I was going to obsess over the facial features in this illustration.”
For Mondo’s part, the release of Santora’s An Inconvenient Sequel gave them the opportunity to give back the community and show their support. With all proceeds of the poster going to Austin Parks Foundation, Brookhart and the Mondo team were able to continue playing their role in the Austin community. “Most of us live and work in Austin, TX and we try to give back when we can,” Brookhart explains. “Austin is fortunate to have a lot of great organizations doing amazing work to improve the area. We have previously partnered with Austin Pets Alive!, Mobile Loaves and Fishes, Creative Action, and with the Austin Parks Foundation on this project. If we see an opportunity to go out and volunteer or donate proceeds from a product to a good cause we try our best to make it happen.”
As for the decision on where the proceeds should go, Brookhart states the choice fell into place quickly. “Whenever we have a project that we want to incorporate a charitable component into we like to keep the efforts and the money local. For An Inconvenient Sequel we obviously wanted it to support an environmental cause and we are quite familiar with Austin Parks Foundation. They do great work to preserve and maintain green spaces in Austin. A few members of the Mondo team have participated in their volunteer days and we’ve gone out there to mulch trees, and clean up local creeks. It was a pretty natural fit.”
In the world of Mondo and collectible posters, An Inconvenient Sequel is not as obvious a choice for merchandising as Guardians Of The Galaxy or other Hollywood spectacles are, but for Brookhart and the Mondo team it’s a film worth sharing. “We try to treat all projects the same. We watched the film and tried to convey its message in a single image. This film obviously has a message that is a bit more connected to the real world than say, “The Terminator,” but we still approached it with the same mindset. We’re not trying to make any type of statement with this poster other than, “you should check out this film and consider its message.” I think our fans understand that.” Santora’s illustration follows the lead of the film, putting on display a possible reality in the meditative stillness of American daylight.
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