A New Short Film Tackles Our Tall Poppy Syndrome

By Pamela Connellan
on 22 February 2022

A new short film made by The Jim Henson Company – of The Muppets fame – and CGU Insurance, tackles the tall poppy syndrome which has been part of the Australian psyche for many years, with innovative digital visuals and handcrafted puppetry.

Brian Henson directs the new film – called Tall Poppy – which works to break down the cultural phenomenon of Australia’s tall poppy syndrome. It will be released nationally in Australia this Sunday, 27th February.

This is a ground-breaking short film from Henson who’s made many other well-known films including Muppet Treasure Island, Muppet Christmas Carol, Farscape. In Tall Poppy, Henson introduces an innovative and unique visual language for film, combining handmade practical puppets with CG backgrounds and digital effects.

The new short film encourages Australians to question the cultural stigma of tall poppy syndrome and to see ambition – which is often seen as a negative trait – in a different light. According to recent research* conducted by CGU Insurance, more than a third of Australians believe ambition is often regarded as a dirty word.

The research also found that one in five Australians have either passed up an opportunity for fear of being seen as a tall poppy or been a victim of the tall poppy syndrome. The research shows younger generations, including Gen Z and Millennials, are most held back by tall poppy syndrome.

As well, almost 60% of people believe Australians like to cut down ambitious people, despite the positive role ambition can play in our lives. However, the seeds for change are evident with 77% of Australians acknowledging that ambition is important to drive progress and innovative thinking.

Poppy is a heroine for the positive power of ambition

Poppy is a heroine for the positive power of ambition, which can lead to creativity and innovation. On her journey, she learns to hold onto and share her ambitious spirit. As Henson says: “Tall Poppy is about celebrating ambition and facing the feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability that can get in the way of living to your fullest potential.”

“The ambitious team that came together to create this film, brought together by our incredible partners at CGU Insurance, definitely saw the magic and innovation that can happen when everyone feels free to share their own unique talents. We hope that Poppy’s story will inspire Australians to celebrate their own tall poppies,” Henson adds.

IAG Chief Marketing Officer Brent Smart, says: “CGU Insurance created Poppy to highlight that being ambitious is a good thing. We want to celebrate Australia’s tall poppies, not cut them down, because collectively driving innovation in small businesses is essential for progress and growth.”

“Celebrating and inspiring ambition in the next generation of Australians is important, and we shouldn’t let the tall poppy label or the issue of standing out due to our success hold us back. As seen with Poppy’s story, ambition can lead us to achieve wonderful things,” Smart adds.

Tall Poppy
Jim Henson of The Muppets fame, is the director of Tall Poppy, a film which uses new digital technologies
and classic puppetry, to get its message across.

A range of new digital techniques and technologies were used

Tall Poppy was created using a range of production techniques and technologies, combining classic tabletop puppetry with rich visual effects resulting in a handcrafted yet sophisticated look. Dozens of puppets and nearly 150 visual effects shots were needed to complete the nine-minute film.

Tall Poppy was produced by The Jim Henson Company, with puppets provided by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and visual effects provided by Stargate Studios.

*The CGU Insurance YouGov study was conducted online between 9-13 December 2021. The sample comprised a nationally representative sample of 1,055 Australians aged 18 years and older.

About CGU Insurance: CGU has a 165-year history and is a business, rural and personal insurance company as well as workers compensation insurance. CGU insures more than 125,000 businesses, over 60,000 farms and hobby farms, nearly half a million properties and over one million motor vehicles each year.

About The Jim Henson Company: The award-winning Jim Henson Company has remained an established leader in family entertainment for over 60 years and is recognised as an innovator in puppetry,
animatronics, and digital animation. Best known as creators of the world-famous Muppets, Henson is currently in production on Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio for Netflix and the feature film The Portable Door. With additional locations in New York and London, The Jim Henson Company is headquartered in Los Angeles on the historic Charlie Chaplin lot, complete with soundstage and post-production facilities.

For more from Women Love Tech about new films, visit here.

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