What we did:
The George W Bush Institute approached us about making an explainer video for their newest publication telling the stories of Afghan women after the fall of the Taliban. The Institute, an action-oriented, nonpartisan policy organization, created the Afghan Women’s Project to support effective programs in Afghanistan. The book highlights the success of Afghan women by sharing their stories.
The challenge for this piece was that while things are definitely improving for women in Afghanistan, there are still challenges.
We chose to walk the line between painting a picture of progress while still conveying the struggle of the community.
Explainers with sensitive subject matter are all about employing metaphors. Our game plan was to create a powerful visual shorthand for the message, without making the viewers so uncomfortable they look away.
The Bush Institute felt that the tale of a beekeeper, a job forbidden to women in Afghan society under the oppressive Taliban regime, would be the ideal story to use as a teaser for the book.
Our team then jumped at the opportunity to use the queen bee as inspiration.
The queen bee, who does not leave the hive but who is at the same time responsible for all life within it, was a perfect metaphor for the women of Afghanistan who have worked indoors, quietly furthering their and their families lives without attracting notice for years. They persevered through harsh circumstances and contributed positive change to their nation.
Once the script was crafted around that metaphor, we began developing the visual shorthand, sketching frame by frame, each beat of the story.
With the sketches coming together we began experimenting with a simple monochromatic palette for the finished look. The right color palette was a key component to help convey the sense of hardship.
Given that we also wanted to show how things were changing for the better, it then became very important to balance this palette with a hopeful, optimistic music track and a warm voice. Sparse sound design with minimal sound effects was another important choice, intended to keep the focus on the strong, but quiet overall message of the piece.
In addition to the final video itself, one of the great benefits of explainer videos is the supporting shareable content they easily generate for use on social media. We used the video to create a handful of quick animated gifs.
“It is important for those of us around the world, both women and men, to stop and listen to Afghanistan’s women. How can we help change the lives of women in Afghanistan? The women in these pages have their own thoughtful answers. By listening, we also have a chance to learn.”