The Last Job on Earth

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Moth Collective’s distinctive style of storytelling is back again. This time, they’re imagining a dystopian future populated by robot cats, malfunctioning medical machines and a profound unemployment problem.

Like their previous efforts, “The Last Job on Earth” works with a limited palette and simplified forms to tell a thought-provoking — perhaps even poignant — tale. The camera moves only when needed, usually in a simple tracking shot intended to parallel Alice’s ill-fated journey through her day.

Isometric master shots of the city convey a sense of orderly perfection, but the intercut street shots seen through Alice’s car window paint a different picture. The message is clear: From a distance, the future appears immaculate, but at human scale, things fall apart.

The film inspired a companion piece written by Paul Mason for The Guardian, “Automation may mean a post-work society but we shouldn’t be afraid.”

Mason essentially calls for an economic revolution, one aimed at “de-linking” work and wages:

A low-work society is only a dystopia if the social system is geared to distributing rewards via work. In the early 19th century, the Utopian Socialists tried not only to imagine an alternative but to implement it, in slightly crazy closed communities inspired by the writings of philosopher Charles Fourier.

Fourier famously predicted work could become play – its qualities could absorb the qualities of aimlessness, humour, even eroticism. We would flit from one kind of work to another, oblivious of its productive function.

“The Last Job on Earth” focuses on the human aspect of this change. In several shots, Alice exists in a monochrome void. Alone, isolated and confused.

Although it is familiar to her, Alice is at odds with her automated world. She glides through it without really participating in it.

According to Mason, this portrait of angst is the real source of danger facing us:

The real dystopia is that, fearing the mass unemployment and psychological aimlessness it might bring, we stall the third industrial revolution. Instead we end up creating millions of low skilled jobs that do not need to exist.

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  • Feb 18, 2016: The film wasn’t commissioned as a companion piece to the article. Rather, the film came first, then the article.


Directed, Designed and Animated by Moth Collective
Lead Animator – Carlos De Faria
2D Animation – Moth Collective & Sabine Volkert
3D Animation – Claudio Salas
Compositing – Moth Collective & Claudio Salas
Artworking – Stephen Vuillemin, Moth Collective, Sabine Volkert & Frankie Swan.
Sound & Music – Box of Toys Audio

Guardian Team:
Commissioning Editors – Tess Riley, Laura Paddison
Writer and Creative Director – Alistair Campbell
Senior Producer – Lucile Weigel
Executive Producer – Amelie von Harrach
Script editor – Frances Polletti
Supported by – Doen Foundation

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About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.


Justin Cone

It’s probably worth mentioning that economists call the central concern of “The Last Job” the Luddite Fallacy:

“The Luddite fallacy is the simple observation that new technology does not lead to higher overall unemployment in the economy. New technology doesn’t destroy jobs – it only changes the composition of jobs in the economy.”


The macro view sounds fairly harmless: jobs are merely “shifted around” over time. But the micro view can be devastating.

When workers are replaced too quickly (like coal miners in the 20th century), legions of people can go unemployed. While the economic ripples of their unemployment are usually absorbed by the larger economy around them, their personal lives are in peril until they can find new jobs — which usually means acquiring new skills.

David Lowdermilk

I could only see “Minority Report”. Nice animation.

Justin Cone

Hey David! What do you mean you could only see Minority Report?

David Lowdermilk

The movie: Minority Report (2002). A few scenes in this animation were very similar to the movie. The self-driving vehicles were a similar shape to the Lexus 2054 Concept car. John Anderton walks through a business plaza in the movie and the digital advertisements are custom designed for him. The flying vehicles in the beginning remind me of the flying police cars… transparent interactive displays…. etc… I suppose there are 100 other sci-fi movies out there with similarities too.

Justin Cone

Gotcha! Yep, fair points there. In terms of the technological ideas presented in this film, there’s nothing new. I did find the underlying message to be poetically told, though. I think that’s the real value here.

John Lane

Some of the attractiveness of more craft-like endeavors (I think) could be related to the networked, globalized Enron type of labor competition. And, it’s not that there are necessarily fewer jobs, but does the compensation have enough value to make them actual gainful employment (include more expenses being shifted onto the worker). Loved the animation and direction above.

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