While we love comedy and bake it into nearly every part of our day-to-day lives, it’s not the perfect tool for every job. As much as our brains may find humor in nearly everything, sometimes life calls for regular human behavior like showing sympathy, respect, or just ordering a sandwich without acting like a total goon.
This is very much the case with storytelling. And when Open Society Foundations approached us about helping them communicate information from a delicate, complex, but extremely important report about transgender rights—specifically around issues related to government-issued IDs—we pretty quickly realized that cracking wise was not the way to bring awareness and understanding to this topic.
We highly recommend you visit this page put together by OSF, and educate yourself on this issue. It’s easy to applaud the progress made around “gay rights” and overlook the unique obstacles faced by transgender people. That’s a big part of the reason we embraced this project as an interesting and tremendously worthwhile storytelling opportunity.
So what did we learn from the process of putting this video together? I love having the power to make you ask questions I already intend on providing the answers to. Here are some takeaways…
- Identity is fascinating. As in the philosophical consideration of the self, how it’s defined, what it means, where it’s located, and who gets to define it. All that heady stuff. Our process began with a lot of philosophy research and conversations, and I love the way we were able to come at the entire topic through that lens in the first 35 seconds of the animation. An identity is something every human shares, and establishing that common connective tissue is always the first step toward achieving empathy and understanding.
- This animation is awesome. Fraser Davidson created it around the audio from a BBC interview with Richard Feynman, discussing the variable perspectives of beauty. As we were rounding up inspiration for this work, we kept coming back to this one as a favorite.
- Great clients make life better. Sebastian Krueger and the rest of the team over at Open Society were great to work with, and were true partners in the lengthy and delicate script writing process. This was definitely a project where you find yourself talking for 10 minutes about three words, but the OSF crew was tremendous all the way and the video is better off for it.
- Never expect to finish a script while at SXSW. Just no. It’s not going to happen. Finish it before, or pick it back up after.
- Every project is an opportunity to learn more. This is what always appealed to me about journalism: becoming an expert in something, then synthesizing the topic for a larger audience. Learning more about what it means to be transgender in this country and others has been enlightening and inspiring.