About a month ago I was hired by Kaiserbrand GbR to create 6 animated segments (around 2 minutes in all) for a Documentary about George Tabori. It was a pretty fast turnaround with only around 2 weeks at my disposal to create the character designs, backgrounds and animations - so the style of animation used is quite reduced based on quick and dirty puppet rigs created in after effects.
It was shown about a week ago on 3Sat, and it was indeed a pleasure to see how well the animations were integrated in the overall documentary.
Here are a few Stills and Gifs from the project (click for larger images):
this last background was created by Wolfgang Reimers
Last week I had an argument with a good friend of mine concerning the Bechdel Test. As I referred to the test as irrelevant, I apparently labeled myself as a sexist and closed her ears to any further argument on the matter. Now, I dont mean that the portrayal of nuanced female characters in film is unimportant (and definitely not Irrelevant) - but I do believe that the test is dated and ultimately flawed, not really able to give a correct picture of gender equality in cinema today. On top of this I just learned that cinemas in Sweden has started using the test as a bluestamp for "more women friendly films", which is baffeling to me - but here let me explain:
The Bechdel Test was created by Alison Bechdel as a setup for a joke in her comic strip "Dykes to watch out for" back in 1985 (or in her own words; it is stolen from a friend who probably stole it from Virginia Woolf) For a movie to pass The Bechdel Test, it must have two (named) female characters; have those characters speak to each other; and have them speak to each other about something other than a man.
It is a pretty simple setup, but unfortunately it doesnt really allow for a very nuanced analysis of the material at hand, and allows a lot of movies terrible towards women pass - and some movies with strong female protagonists barely pass or not at all.
Lets just have a look at the infographics for the top 50 grossing films of last year (2013):
According to the numbers; films passing the Bechdel test are making 63% more profit (1,53 Billion $) than the movies failing the test. With this glorious result it should be case closed, right? Feminists everywhere rejoice and pop the champagne? Well before we get that far, lets just have a closer look at the films on the list:
Although movies like the Hunger Games and Frozen are standing proud in the passing column, they are joined by movies like G.I Joe: Retaliation, the Fast and the Furious 6 & the Hangover 3 only to mention a few: All are movies that has a somewhat one dimensional view on their female characters. Most surprisingly on the list is maybe Gravity - a film centered around a woman lost after loosing her child, fighting her way back to humanity. Although centered around a strong female protagonist occupying 95% of the movies screen time it fails every single point on the Bechdel checklist.
It gets even worse when we look at the highest grossing Bechdel passing films of all time where the "the Transformers Franchise" is represented twice. Anybody who can look me straight in the eye and tell me that the tits and ass representation of females in those movie is a victory to femisists everywhere (without laughing or crying) definitely deserves Meryll Streep's next Accademy Award in my book.
On the other hand movies with strong female main protagonists like Sarah Conner from Terminator or Ripley from Alien pass on brief exchanges of dialogue. Terminator passes because Sarah asks Ginger, her roommate, if she's seen her pet lizard. Ginger responds that she hasn't and asks if Sarah has checked their messages (and then they start talking about men, because the answering machine cancelled Ginger's date for the night). - By that measure most 3rd grade horror/slasher films and probably even most porn would pass the test.
Luckily I am not the only person in the world with this oppinion but until recently the Bechdel Test, however flawed it is, surprisingly enough has been the only real test dealing with the gender representation in film. Recently a new test has emerged up called the Mako Mori Test, inspired by one of the protagonists from Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim - Mako Mori is a well-written Japanese woman who is informed by her culture without being solely defined by it, without being a racial stereotype, and gets to carry the film and have character development.
The Mako Mori test is passed if the movie has: a) at least one female character; b) who gets her own narrative arc; c) that is not about supporting a man’s story.
It is still a pretty low bar to pass, but I find it a valliant try, and I definitely find it positive that new initiatives are brewing to find something better than the Bechdel test
But to sum it all up; in my oppinion the Bechdel Test doesnt paint a clear picture on quantity nor quality of female representation in current cinema. Telegraph film critic, Robbie Collin, criticized the test as prizing "box-ticking and stat-hoarding over analysis and appreciation", and suggested that the underlying problem of the lack of well-drawn female characters in film ought to be a topic of discourse, rather than if films are failing or passing the Bechdel test. *
About 2 years ago I did a pitch for a new dual platform campaign for Heinz (online & TV). The idea was to have an animated online series following the 'behind-the-scenes" life of old Hollywood, as the characters are on set shooting different genre films - with Heinz as the classical Hollywood leading man. As production grinds to a halt due to different problems on set. Heinz steps in to save the day. The corresponding TV/Cinema spots would then be the films they are shooting on set.