Last year, charity Vow launched with an animated campaign by Wednesday Studio, Sacha Beeley and Cabeza Patata to spread awareness of its cause to end child marriage. Shockingly, 12 million girls under the age of 18 are married every year – one every three seconds – and last year’s campaign focused on what most girls can do in that time (eg. invent a new dance move) while others don’t enjoy the same freedom. This year, its second campaign for International Day of the Girl sees the charity work with a single animator, Parallel Teeth, and take a different approach: one of empowerment and rebellion.
Robert Wallace, AKA Parallel Teeth, worked with social impact agency Hive and production company Strange Beast on the short film, briefed by Hive and Vow to channel an attitude of “raucous energy,” Robert tells It’s Nice That, and focus on the courage and determination of these girls. The animation skips from scene to scene with the hyperactive vim of a young girl, starting with one character stomping her way out of a chapel and ripping the sleeves off her wedding dress; she then kickstarts a revolution, breaking her fellow girls free from their shackles.
Both Hive and Vow came to Robert with a multitude of different situations they wanted to show in the speedy 30 seconds, so it was part of Robert’s job to thread these into a quick-paced narrative and figure out ways they could connect together.
“I wanted the raucous attitude to not only come through in the actions but also the girls’ design and movement. Throughout the animation the girls don’t stick to a strong character model, instead they change depending on the scene,” Robert says. “Sometimes we used extreme low-angle perspectives, or gave them massive muscles, or animated them like clunky stop-motion, or shrunk down their bodies. This along with the quickness of shots and bright colour palette, gives it a youthful, playful energy.” The challenge of the fast-paced and constantly morphing transitions was to make sure it didn’t feel overwhelming or nauseating, Robert says. “It was a balance of having the high energy flow while still communicating the power and future these girls and young woman have.”
In terms of character design, Robert stepped a little out of his normal process for this campaign. Where he would normally create characters with unnatural proportions and enlarged features, distorting elements into more graphic shapes and dropping “unnecessary body parts,” this work required the girls to be relatable, Robert says. “I toned down the abstraction and instead applied those ideas to how the girls could change in each scene,” he explains. “I love how with animation you aren’t constrained by things like you are in the physical world. This piece encouraged that behaviour so it was really fun to push it and see where this style could lead.” Likewise, the colour palette represented a departure for Robert, being much broader than usual, but this allowed the girl characters to be unique and easily identified as they transfigure throughout the animation.
“The aim was to highlight how they can create their own futures,” Robert continues. “It celebrates the real power these girls and young women can have when supported, to defy child marriage.”