When personal work becomes real - Bad Choices and COVID-19

When I wrote and photographed a dystopian story called 'Bad Choices' — complete with a virus that created massive social unrest and chaos and had lingering long-term effects — I had no idea that I would be living inside a weird and un-cinematic version of it.

Thanks to a worldwide pandemic, this personal project resonates very differently now. Three of my characters from the Bad Choices project, in particular, stand out.

Dr. Lavinia Young, the largely self-taught Doctor to the community of Bad Choices, searches amongst the scraps of research she pays the scavengers to bring to her. She's relentless as she is hopeless, convinced that she'll never find anything to help her deal with the virus, but unable to give up.

“How long can I go on like this? I’m being serious. I have no idea.” -Dr. Lavinia Young from the Bad Choices series 

Zeb Rutledge probably would have been a brilliant engineer in a different life, working on elegant solutions to abstract problems. In this world, he spends a lot of time trying to keep all the broken things around him patched up enough to work.

“None of this is your fault. It's nobody's fault, other than the fuckers who let a virus tear into the entire population of America and destroy everything in an amazingly short amount of time.” —Zeb from the Bad Choices series 

Isabel Serraro, ever the opportunist, finds the levers of those around her and has no qualms about using them. She simply views the world falling apart as helpful, a way to get other people to do what she wants.

“Never underestimate the power of people wanting to be told what to do.” —The Oracle from the Bad Choices series 

Thankfully we're not living in the Bad Choices world.

In creating this series, I wanted the challenge of building a place and writing its stories. I chose my favorite genre, the post-apocalypse. It's odd now that we're living in a sci-fi world of an actual pandemic to think about this fascination's origins.

I've loved being immersed in these worlds, seeing a glimpse into what happens afterward. The first time I saw the Statue of Liberty's arm rising out of the surf in Planet of the Apes? Mind-blowing magic! After finishing reading The Hot Zone? I was terrified of how close it all felt to a worldwide pandemic.

And now? 

Thankfully we're not in a nuclear post-apocalypse, but we are challenged to deal with all the ingredients that feed into the genre. Climate change, aging and failing infrastructures, poisoned water supplies, drought, and rising sea levels. Maybe the pandemic can do some good and get people to see how close we are to these narratives becoming a reality?

All of this is not to make light of what we are all living through. This is a thought process of seeing a science fiction storyline become a reality and pondering how that will change the narrative of all the stories that touch it, including mine. We'll get back to producing more in the series, but first, let's knock COVID-19 and all the variants on its ass.

“I don’t know what’s worse: yesterday or tomorrow. Today is the only day worth living.” —Turner from the Bad Choices series 



Dark & gritty books like Cormac McCarthy's The Road and trashy pop-culture films like Class of Nukem High and Deathrace 2000 were my inspiration. David Macaulay's outstanding 1979 book Motel of the Mysteries was definitely one of my earliest influences. Let's not forget the one that started it all, straight from the video rental store on VHS tape — Mad Max.

Andy is the artist-in-residence, owner, technologist, cook, brewer, and cocktail maker in chief at Andy Batt Studio. He loves to work with a good crew on complex projects and a good cup of coffee. No, a good cup of coffee— there's a difference. On the side, he teaches lighting workshops because he likes giving back to his community.