As a female filmmaker working in present day, I’m fully aware that there are more opportunities than perhaps ever before; this doesn’t mean that the work is even close to being done in a move towards equality. The shift in the industry will become real when the perception we have about the industry roles are not assumed to be solely for cisgender white male. Achieving this also means giving opportunities to people identifying as women, the same amount as with men, in upper hierarchical positions behind the camera, as directors, composers, directors of photography, etc. Even beyond this, the mentality needs to improve. While giving voice to this idea, we can also support each other with the knowledge and gifts we possess. Therefore, I feel grateful that I am able to be part of the industry and participate or create projects from scratch and be able to collaborate with other fellow femme professionals. To that order, I’d like to share some of the concepts I’ve used in projects that I have worked on regarding the use of motion graphics. If we all can contribute in strengthening each other’s abilities, we will progress as a movement and as artists. This serves the industry, the audience, and the art-form itself to progress and grow.
One of my favorite projects last year was for the YouTube channel of WB’s DC Super Hero Girl (DCSHG). As the lead editor of this ten-part series, my goal was to engage with the show’s already substantial young female audience and create original content that would feed their interest in the characters and the program, hopefully even heighten it. Even though it was necessary that this content adhere to the character visual aesthetics and color palette, the production offered plenty of opportunities to flex my own creativity. For example, in this scene of the Care For The Earth With Green Lantern episode (around second 38) with this visual explanation of what the voiceover says, I was able to give the basic meaning using the effect of writing on a notepad, following the aesthetic of the series but adding a more personal touch for the character. Beyond simply making the text appear, I chose to create a fresh approach on a simple sentence while retaining the character’s color palette and by using images that are used in the original series. For a scene in Decode The Emojis! episode in second 18, I created a scene from scratch that is a visualization of the superheroes texting each other with emojis from a point of view of someone who watches their phone. It is the edited version of their screens next to each other which shows that they have a conversation in emojis as the voiceover actress explains what emojis are. The goal throughout this is to understand your audience and what will best reach them. By choosing fun and engaging ways and striving for clarity while retaining the tone of the series they already love, I was able to craft episodes that were instantly familiar while still being fresh.
One of the positive aspects of Social Media is that it provides one of the greatest opportunities for creativity with collaborators who are open to what you have to offer as an artistic professional. My work on the IG-Curly Apricot Productions “LA Locals – Breathgood” episode provided me an opportunity to experiment and bring my own interpretation to the video content. There are so many possibilities as an editor to expand the emotional connection with the audience; it’s necessary to find one’s own connection with the content. This episode could have been a very basic interview and explanation, but this wouldn’t serve to create the emotional conduit that was desired. I love to experiment with different effects and textures and editing techniques in my films, videos, etc. For the beginning of the episode, I used a viewfinder/vintage film separation which gives a nostalgic feel to the viewer, and with that I could really focus on specific moments of the actions, people’s faces, etc. It really put the main subject of the episode under the spotlight and created the frame into frame aesthetic to give even more attention to what is on the screen. The viewfinder effect really allowed those snapshots to capture the moment of the story and how it unfolded through the eyes of the person who was talking about it. The effects I use deliberately affects the pace of a simple interview in this case. When I started the LA Locals series, I knew I wanted to give as many visuals as possible driven from the interviewee’s answers. The choice is simple, I tried to find an interesting, funny, or informative graphic given the answer of every person interviewed. Then, instead of using just simple shots of B-roll, I uplifted the stories by giving them a cohesive aesthetic that pointed out important moments of those people’s stories.
Editing and adding motion graphics is not limited to lighthearted content. It’s just as appropriate in expanding the gravitas of dramatic topics. For the documentary Tax Evasion: A Greek National Sport, as it begins, I made the creative decision, both as the film director and as the editor of the piece, to use oversized text in the Athenian city landscape to symbolize the irony of the subject matter and underline a satiric moment in recent Greek history. Hearing quotes from professionals with the Parthenon in the background not only makes the connection of the space and time but also it juxtaposes ancient Greece and modern Greece in the same frame. Sometimes the unintuitive approach is what makes the greatest impact. At the 9:30 mark of the film, I chose to visualize the unfairness of the situation with the simplified use of a seesaw. In choosing the colors, the silhouette of the man is blue with a blue and white face (to follow the Greek flag pattern) in a way that communicates injury also (underlying the effects and the severity of the situation). The magenta, yellow, cyan pallete is used throughout the film as are the CMYK colors used in the offset printing of full-color documents. With this, I wanted to underline the bureaucratic aspect of the tax process while also making an otherwise dull, difficult, and complicated film interesting with a brighter color palette. That is why I also chose the animated car to be pink at minute 1:30. It gives an unexpected tone in the overall severity of the subject matter. These colors give the film a sarcastic undertone as seen by a fresh set of eyes.
All of these different productions fall within my area of interest and enjoyment. There are so many stories that I want to tell, and I want to commit making films through a different lens, not that mainstream, that of the “female gaze”. If that’s to change, we must all expand our abilities and the risks that we take as storytellers. I want to keep doing movies for issues that up until now have been a solely male subject matter. This was a conscious decision for my involvement in Tax Evasion: A Greek National Sport. My approach was decidedly to touch the subject matter with respect for my subjects and explain a point of view without having the sole intention to point fingers, but rather than focus on realities of real Greek people and include a lot of women in the cast. I have found that it is how you decide to say things not only what stories you tell. Through all of the productions I’ve mentioned here, there is ample opportunity to engage your own personal style and creativity while expanding it. Directing and editing motion graphics offers almost limitless possibilities. I hope that the examples I’ve presented here will inspire you to discover your own application of this.
Writer: Kelly Sarri