(By Zedeck Siew)

Awareness campaigns about social issues are usually the result of NGOs, not individual endeavour. (Not to say that NGO types aren’t individuals, but you get what I mean.) So here’s a nifty thing: a bunch of kekawans who got together and started working on a video campaign, designed to get people talking about violence against women. Introducing the Stop Motion Project! They’re making stuff like this:

The above is the first of three stop-motion animation videos, to be released over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, I talk to project member Ong Jo-Lene about what Stop Motion Project is about, how they are being funded, and why they chose stop motion as a medium.

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Who are you people lah?

Three stooges who, six months ago, decided to take a break from full-time jobs. Temme Lee, Lim Kar Mern and I — along with our friends Thilaga Sulatireh and Michelle Tam — stumbled upon Empower’s call for proposals for the Association of Progressive Communications (APC)’s small grants programme for project to help end violence against women using/incorporating ICT.

(Stop Motion Project peeps)

What is the Stop Motion Project? What do you guys want to achieve?

SMP is designed to raise awareness on issues surrounding violence against women, that are grounded on women’s realities today. Things like domestic abuse hiding in our neighbourhoods; gender segregation on public transport; non-physical abuse.

We hope to empower people to be able to identify violence against women, by seeding discussion around one question (our tagline, which appears at the end of our three videos): “When does the violence begin?”

Even before women are faced with a situation where they feel violated, they can identify behaviour and issues that can perpetuate violence — and raise pertinent questions, and take action. We want to help people to take preventive action to end violence against women, and not just help survivors.

How are the project’s videos going to be disseminated?

Through websites, portals and blogs that already have a following. We encourage people to share the videos on social media networks. We are also hoping to approach higher-learning institutions to show our videos on public screens in campus.

These videos are for everyone; we are open to suggestions and proposals on how people want to share them. For example, Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) has approached us to show one of the videos at a workshop for teens.

Who do you want to reach with these videos? (Don’t say everyone.)

Fence-sitters. Most people will say that they are against violence against women — but we feel that not enough are really aware, yet, about the subtle sexism that perpetuates the violence.

Netizens. Because it’s the place where many of our discussions now take place. There isn’t enough focus on women’s issues and violence, not wide enough a pool of people discussing it. Balik-balik the same few.

Why choose stop-motion video as a medium?

We’re creative like that :p We noticed that most public service announcements use live-action video, so we thought that stop-motion animation will catch people’s attention a bit more guar.

We also thought it would be less complicated, and cost less money to produce. From figuring out lighting on a budget (because its impractical to depend on natural light) to the looooong duration it takes to shoot stop-motion frames, to the 1000-odd paper cut-outs we had to make — we were SO wrong on that last point!

How is Stop Motion Project funded?

We were funded by APC’s “Take Back the Tech!” initiative to end violence against women.

Under that initiative, USD20,000 from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs were distributed in the form of small grants across 12 developing nations. In Malaysia, several NGOs are working together to coordinate and support this effort, namely EMPOWER, CIJ, SIS, and WAO.

Why do things in the “small grant” way? Is access to more funding that difficult?

Access to funding is difficult — period. Which is why we appreciate what the APC is doing through this project. Anyone can submit proposals. This allows for more grassroots and community-driven efforts. It directly increases ordinary women’s involvement and capacity in using ICT tools.

The SMP team are first-timers at organising a campaign, at producing videos, at stop-motion animation, but that wasn’t a problem for APC. While more funding would have been great, a really big grant may be difficult for individuals and small groups. Other girls and women can see that us “nobodies” can take action — not just big organisations or governmental institutions.

What’s next for Stop Motion Project? Are you planning more vids?

Yes! We are in talks with APC. We’ll be talking sexxxxxxuality!