Afghan Women Book Explainer Video
An animated tale of Afghan beekeepers and how they represent the struggle of the brave women of that country. This promotional video for a book filled with stats and figures highlights the work being done to bring their country out of turmoil.
The George W. Bush Institute approached us about making an explainer video for their newest publication, a book 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 with this project was conveying that while things are definitely improving for women in Afghanistan, their lives continue to be difficult with many obstacles in the way of their success. 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 viewers so uncomfortable that 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 does not leave the hive but is at the same time responsible for all life within it. This was a perfect metaphor for the women of Afghanistan who have worked behind the scenes, quietly furthering their own and their families’ lives without attracting notice for years. They persevered through harsh circumstances and contributed to positive change.
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 that they can be used to spin off supporting shareable content for use on social media. We used this video to also create a handful of eye-catching animated gifs.