“Here We Are” begins with a father attempting a monumental but universal task: Alone with his newborn child for the first time, he realizes it is up to him to explain the entire world to this innocent creature. While it may come naturally to some, others can feel overwhelmed by the challenge. This whimsical animated short is based on a book by children’s author Oliver Jeffers, whose clever illustrations and simple storytelling have earned him fans of all ages.
When Apple TV+ approached Jeffers and filmmaker Philip Hunt about adapting his latest book into a short film in time for Earth Day 2020, the collaborators jumped at the opportunity.
“The problem with a lot of short films is, how do you finance them? Where do you go? What are you trying to do with this? Apple provided the reason to do this,” Hunt told IndieWire in a Zoom interview conducted before the new year. “When Oliver and I started, we saw this as a much smaller festival kind of film, we weren’t really thinking that there would be any kind of outlet for something like this. …Apple allowed us to think a little bit bigger.”
The two men first worked tother on 2008’s “Lost and Found,” a touching story of a boy and his penguin friend’s trip to the South Pole which featured the great Jim Broadbent as narrator. Twelve years later, the duo keeps attracting impressive voice talents: “Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth” stars the impressive ensemble of Meryl Streep, Chris O’Dowd, Ruth Negga, and Jacob Tremblay. Hunt was humbled by the fact that they were able to cast all of his top choices.
“I always get taken to school by good actors, if you’ve cast well and you haven’t mangled [the script] too much…then you should really sit back and let them do what they do,” he said. “[Meryl had] read the book, she knew Oliver’s work. I think she said yes because of the sentiments of the book and the sentiments of the film, and she was brilliant.”
“Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth” is currently streaming on Apple TV+. Watch IndieWire’s conversation with writer/director Philip Hunt above.