In this Motionographer Q&A, we chat with the founders of Punanimation, Bee Grandinetti, Hedvig Alhberg and Linn Fritz, to find out more about them, how they formed, and what their hopes are for the future.
First, congratulations on launching Punanimation! Can you tell us what Punanimation is and what we need to know?
Thanks, Joe! We’ve been very excited lately :)
Puninamation is an initiative that aims to empower, promote and connect women, trans and non-binary people working in the animation and motion industry, across different platforms.
We’ve started back in April 2015, with a Facebook group that grew very organically amongst our close friends, at first. Our community grew bigger and stronger throughout the years, which led us to our most recent bigger step: putting together a directory where people could easily research and have access to the work of this section of our industry.
Was there a specific moment where you knew this was something you had to start?
Regarding the very start of Punanimation as a group, we think it was just a very natural reaction from us starting our professional lives in the animation/motion industry.
Even though the three of us came from different backgrounds, we were equally frustrated with the lack of diversity and representation in work environments – and all the complications that come with those. We were already really good friends (and friends complain together) so at some point, we said: “wait, let’s sit down and discuss this properly because we need to actually do something about this”.
When it comes to the directory, last year we’ve reached such an awesome momentum and engagement level in our community that we felt it was the right time to make a more substantial move and expand the reach of the conversation beyond the group. That led us to the directory we released on women’s day, but also to other plans that will come to life a little later this year.
What does it take to join?
Simply pressing the “join” button at the upper left corner of our website and filling the form ;)
(and also being a woman, trans or non-binary person working in this industry of course).
And how many members are there currently?
We currently have around 2000 members in our Facebook group, which is composed of animators, motion designers, illustrators, graphic designers, producers, etc.
Our directory has almost 200 entries so far.
That’s amazing! How do you see Punanimation growing and what are the hopes for the future?
So far the women featured in our directory are mostly from the bigger hubs of animation: London, NY, and LA. We hope to reach further and for our directory to grow and spread as much as our Facebook group has. We’re also aiming to organize more meetups, screenings, and talks as well.
One awesome thing that happened recently (and was definitely beyond our expectations at such early days) was that a producer at Google Creative Lab NY used Punanimation to scout for talent and ended up hiring a woman from it. That got us so pumped!
When it comes to very long-term goals, well… in an ideal world, with an equal playing field, we don’t need to create this kind of safe space to gain confidence, promote and connect women. So we believe the ultimate goal is coming to a point where we don’t need a group and a directory like this anymore. It would be amazing if these platforms just stopped making sense eventually, and the idea of having one would just sound weird and kind of excluding. Unfortunately, we’re quite far from that moment still.
For those who would like to help, how can they get involved?
When it comes to helping Punanimation directly, just spreading the word about it is already extremely helpful. A couple of months ago, School of Motion promoted our Facebook group amongst their alumni through their newsletter and we got an insane amount of new members due to it. They’ve been giving us a lot of support overall and we’re forever grateful <3
As a quick way to help, we’re also selling tote bags and will be adding more products to our shop soon to help collect funds for future events and initiatives.
When it comes to the bigger picture – helping us close the gender gap in our industry – there are some good examples of actions that can promote substantial impact:
A couple of weeks ago, Kyle McDonald – a renowned artist working with code (in an even more male-dominated industry) – posted this tweet, openly making a stand about no longer participating at events that are drastically unequal. Here’s a longer version of his inclusion rider, which is SO AWESOME.
Another recent excellent example is an animator friend (he’s a guy) who was invited to join a roster of directors at a production company. The proposal was great, but their list of directors was solely composed of men. He pointed the problem out, recommending a list of women, and turns out the company was eager to address the balance and positively welcomed the suggestion.
These are both amazing examples of what people can do to help, but they do require being in a position of power to be able to pull that off. But on a daily basis, everyone can just start to be more aware of their work environment, observe and work against power misuse and sexist behaviors.