Thanks to the Kevin Smith Movie Club you can now watch WONDER WOMEN! on iTunes.
Thanks to the Kevin Smith Movie Club you can now watch WONDER WOMEN! on iTunes.
By Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and Kelcey Edwards
WONDER CITY has been developed as companion game to the PBS documentary feature, Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines. While the film encourages young audiences to explore pop cultural history as a means of thinking critically, the WONDER CITY game aims to change how we visualize power and gender.
We were first encouraged to create a game at the BAVC Producers’ New Media Institute. Our research found that half of girls ages 8 to 12 play games online. The most popular “girl games” center on themes like cooking, shopping, makeup, and dating, and the default protagonist of most other games is a white male. This lack of representation discourages girls and women from participating in the gaming community – as either consumers or creators.
While making the film, we became aware of how few women occupy leadership positions – fewer than 15 percent! – in politics, business, government and the media. Despite the gains of the women’s movement, we still live in a world where girls are rarely protagonists, let alone shown as strong, smart, or bold. Girls are constantly bombarded by messages and media representations that put them into narrow, stereotyped boxes and limit their choices. Too few girls have risen to be leaders in business, politics, government, or media.
Our hope is that WONDER CITY will undermine these problematic stereotypes and gender limitations by immersing players in a world that represents a more realistic diversity in race, gender, and body image. By empowering tweens to adopt their own superhero identity, they become agents of their own values.
With the help of the non-profit, Games for Change, an organization that facilitates the creation and distribution of social-impact games, we were able to connect with game designer Naomi Clark, who truly understood our vision. We brought on board Tamarind King, the up-and-coming illustrator who did our brilliant title sequence and ending credit animations for the film. We were ecstatic when we found out that ITVS wanted to fund the pilot episode of the game. We then hired the rest of our team!
As filmmakers, it has been an incredible experience to see this game come together and to lean more about development process. We connected with an amazing writer, Phoebe Harris Elefante, who has a great ear for teen characters, and a lead illustrator, Melody Lu, who has brought our vision to life. And of course, we’d be nowhere without a brilliant programmer, Justin Fargione, to make all our gaming dreams come true. We are truly excited to bring to you WONDER CITY.
Wonder City launches May 1st! Discover the super inside you!
We’re thrilled to announce a special online, interactive screening of WONDER WOMEN! on April 24 at 1 pm PT / 4 pm ET, on ITVS’s OVEE website (that’s Online Video Engagement Experience). Join director Kristy Guevara-Flanagan as she live chats during the screening and participates in a discussion with viewers from around the cyber-world.
You can also watch WONDER WOMEN! online at any time on PBS. The film is available until June 14, 2013.
Great Hera! Wonder Women! The Untold Story Of American Superheroines will have its national broadcast on Independent Lens Monday, April 15, 2013 on PBS.
Make it a special night at your house with your family and friends! KAPOW!
Go online to check channels and times for your area.
Wonder Women! traces the fascinating evolution and legacy of Wonder Woman. From the birth of the comic book superheroine in the 1940s to the blockbusters of today, Wonder Women! looks at how popular representations of powerful women often reflect society’s anxieties about women’s liberation.
JOIN US ON SOCIAL MEDIA
If you’re on Twitter, use the #WWDocBroadcast hashtag or @WonderWomenDoc in your tweets.
If you’re on Facebook, tag Wonder Women Doc in your posts. To do this, go to facebook.com/WonderWomenDoc and “Like” us.
VOTE FOR THE AUDIENCE AWARD
The Independent Lens audience has the opportunity to stand up and be counted by rating each film throughout the season. At the end of the season, the highest rated film is honored.
You can vote for WONDER WOMEN! online.
The hero is a key archetype in Western culture, yet heroes have almost invariably been male and white. Twenty-eight centuries since Achilles — arguably the first superhero — the classic heroic archetype remains unaltered: displaying the so-called “masculine” virtues of strength, courage, assertiveness, leadership, physicality, and sometimes violence.
Why are these characteristics considered “heroic”? What happens when women engage in ways of thought and behavior traditionally confined to “masculinity”? Why do most superheroes show little or no talent for communication, family, or empathetic caring? Why aren’t these values considered heroic, and how do our ideas about heroism reflect our culture’s values?
RESOURCES AND MATERIALS
Discussion Guide (PDF, 3.8MB)
Throughout March we screened the film at public events across the country, including free Community Cinema screenings sponsored by ITVS (the Independent Television Service). So far we have recieved wonderful feedback on the film, as audiences have responded to the unique exploration of women’s history and pop culture in WONDER WOMEN!
At the Community Cinema screening in Chicago, viewers had the chance to create costumes for themselves, as they invented new superheroines and superheroes. Here’s one viewers take: “My characteristics of a hero would definitely be perseverance; somone who’s not afraid to make a stand and someone who can admit they’re scared, but can do what needs to be done anyway.”
Renee Gasch, Engagement & Education Coordinator for ITVS, wrote this account about a screening on International Women’s Day. 200 enthusiastic high school girls in Oakland, California watched the film and then answered the question Community Cinema partners have been asking audience members across the country, “What would your superpower be?”
We’ve been particularly gratified at the impact the film has had on young audiences. One Community Cinema viewer said it was the first time she ever heard her 12-year-old daughter use the word “empowering” in reference to herself.
Kristy recently screened the film for high school students participating in the San Francisco Film Society’s Youth Education Program. And we were proud to have the film included in the Tribeca Film Institute’s Youth Screening Series in New York City. Kelcey spoke at that event and had the opportunity to meet the students, who also got to create their own superheroes.Watch this short video about that event and see how the students identified the amazing super-women in their lives.
Be sure to be a part of our television broadcast premiere, by tuning in to Independent Lens on your PBS station on Monday, April 15 at 10 p.m. (Check your local listings, as time and date can vary by PBS affiliate.) If you miss the PBS television broadcast, Independent Lens will be streaming the film on their website for free for a month. Gather your family and friends and make it an event! Superhero costumes are optional, but recommended.
Producers Institute for New Media Technologies | Posted on: Tuesday, March 19 2013
By Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, 2012 Producers Institute Alum
Editor’s Note — Below, filmmaker Kristy Guevara-Flanagan gives us an exciting update on WONDER CITY, the game her and her team first started developing at BAVC’s 2012 Producers Institute for New Media Technologies. WONDER CITY is the transmedia companion to Kristy’s documentary Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines, which PBS will broadcast on April 15, 2013.
For more than a year now, the WONDER CITY team has been developing the characters and environments players will meet as they begin this epic journey of self-discovery and empowerment. With only a few weeks to go until launch, we want to share some of our still-in-development concept art and show you what we’ve been up to!
In WONDER CITY, you have the power of the universe at your fingertips – but that doesn’t make high school any easier! In Episode 1: Origins, you discover your own powers, and uncover a nefarious plot to identify and enslave budding superheroes like yourself! All while navigating the complex sea of friendships, academic achievement, and the small acts of everyday heroism that define who you are.
Here are a few samples of our Player Character, or “PC”. First and foremost, we wanted her to embody the range of beauty we see in women and girls in our real lives, and in the mirror.
And here are a few members of our supporting cast: your best friend, Buffington Cloud Saint-Claire; the boy next door, Alfred Sotai; and the coolest science teacher ever, Ms. Pauli Planck:
But not everyone in WONDERWORLD is your friend… Meet Laleh Theadikitus, the girl you just can’t seem to get along with!
We can’t wait to launch the game, and meet the super YOU!
Kristy recently had the opportunity to speak with students through San Francisco Film Society’s Youth Education. The program introduces students to the art of filmmaking and celebrates both the differences and the shared values of the many cultural groups that make up the global community.
Since 1991, the SFFS Youth Education program has reached more than 95,000 Bay Area schoolchildren and 3,000 teachers from more than 350 educational institutions.
WONDER CITY is a comic-book-style adventure game where players realize their own ideals of leadership and heroism by shaping the story of a teenage superheroine. Targeted to tween audiences, players will have to balance different values, outcomes, and relationships to determine what’s important to them and how they think a hero should act.
Last year, through the Tribeca Film Institute, we were honored with a fellowship with Games for Change — an organization that facilitates the creation and distribution of social-impact games that serve as critical tools in humanitarian and educational efforts. Games for Change has come aboard as one of our key non-profit partners. We also had the opportunity to participate in the BAVC Producers’ Institute for New Media, where we worked with key members from Games for Change to further develop WONDER CITY.
WONDER CITY’S talented creators now include:
Naomi Clark has been designing and producing digital games and virtual worlds for nearly 20 years, starting by designing early virtual worlds as a teenager. She has grown and managed many online communities, from message boards for youth groups to the vibrant community surrounding one of the first multiplayer web games, Sissyfight 2000. In the last decade, Clark has worked as a producer, game designer and creative director at studios such as Gamelab, Blue Fang, and Fresh Planet. These projects included downloadable games such as Egg vs. Chicken and Miss Management; web games such as Josefina’s Market Day for American Girl; Facebook games like Zoo Kingdom and The Specialists; and large community projects such as Gamestar Mechanic, a website where kids create and share their own games.
Tamarind King is a recent graduate of Stanford University Bachelor of Arts program. She has worked as a graphic artist, animator, and sequential artist and is a bright young star in the illustrative arts. King did the title and credit sequence for the WONDER WOMEN! film and will do the concept art for the game.
Phoebe Harris Elefante directs narratives. Drawing on a background in political science and economics, with a masters in media management, she synthesizes vast immersive story worlds with multi-platform distribution strategies to meet the demands of 21st century players. As the founder of Mstrmnd Ltd, she developed and produced a print and web magazine, “Mstrmnd,” designed games and web experiences for several clients, including: CBS, Sprint, Rockstar Games, and Melissa Auf der Maur’s music video project “Out Of Our Minds.” Phoebe’s writing credits include “Captain Heartless: Legend of the Lost Heart,” a literacy-building adventure game, AT<’s “The Lost Function,” an algebra role-playing game, and “The Tides,” a casual MMO for tween girls.
Melody Lu likes thinking with a pencil or a stylus in hand, and she pretty much never stops drawing. Over the years, she’s created illustrations and animations for TV series pitches, medical textbooks, kid’s books, magazines, comics and commercials, but most of her recent work has been in social games, including Top 10 Free iTunes and Android Marketplace games. Melody studied animation at Vancouver Film School and has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Yale University.
We’re aiming to role out the game’s pilot episode – in an abbreviated form – at the time of our April 15 PBS | Independent Lens broadcast. Be sure to check back for further updates in March.
Vaquera Productions is seeking an experienced game writer and an experienced illustrator for the following game (in development): WONDER CITY is a companion adventure game to the Independent Lens documentary “Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines.”
“Wonder Women!” the documentary investigates American popular culture’s evolving attitudes toward powerful women, including the serious lack of them.
WONDER CITY strives to actively involve tweens in addressing the very same failure of imagination and opportunity that the film documents. As the film encourages young audiences to explore pop cultural history as a means of thinking critically about how we visualize power and gender, the game provides an interactive component for the same audience to identify their own heroic qualities and make empowered choices while building self-esteem.
The player starts by creating a heroine with her own unique style. She has the opportunity to select her heroine’s body shape and ethnic background as well as picking a costume, a superpower, and even a weakness she’ll have to strive to overcome.
WONDER CITY will use a gameplay structure popularized by games like “Surviving High School” from Electronic Arts and explored by lesser-known games like “Cute Knight”, “Prom Week” and “Choice of Romance”. The game itself will be both web and mobile based. The game will work as a stand-alone piece though it will live on the film’s website so fans of the film can easily find it.
Both positions are paid commensurate with experience. The project deadline is March, 2013. Applications will be accepted through December 21, 2012.
Please forward applications to:
As we approach Thanksgiving, the WONDER WOMEN! team would like to extend its gratitude to everyone who made this project possible. You truly helped us get this far.
Recently we’ve had a lot of exciting events, including international screenings in Canada, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Taiwan and Poland. Also, the folks at DOC NYC were gracious enough to tape the Q&A after our Nov. 11 screening in New York City. Producer Kelcey Edwards, film character Katie Pineda, editor Melanie Levy, and editor Carla Guttierez answered questions from both a moderator and the audience.
Additionally, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media launched a new PSA in support of its See Jane campaign. We applaud their work and wanted to share this powerful video with you. You can also read their latest research on the topic.
Last week Davis did a great Q&A with Ms. Blog. We’ll leave you with this quote,
“Feminism simply means equal social and political status for men and women. There’s nothing radical about it or about using that word or having that as a goal. We’re simply trying to elevate the status of the female characters to equal. We take up half the space in the world so it would be great to see roughly half of characters be female.”