When Jason Gurvitz and Jordan Marinov founded the Hidden Tears Project in 2015, their goal was to create high-quality content to raise awareness about issues such as gender inequality, human trafficking and domestic abuse. Working in collaboration with non-profits, experts on women’s rights and other issues, law enforcement, child advocates, psychologists, filmmakers, writers and many others, they have created films, videos and virtual reality productions that make clear the harsh reality experienced by too many women and girls.
Recently, Hidden Tears finished work on No Porn for Kids, a short educational video that aims to help children and their parents understand the need to talk openly about pornography, which is easily accessed using cell phones but difficult for young people to make sense of. Made using Cinema 4D, After Effects and motion capture, No Porn for Kids was commissioned by Culture Reframed, an organization founded by scholar/activist Gail Dines to “address pornography as the public health crisis of the digital age.”
In the video, young boys express regret that their dads never talked to them about sex, girls and how girls want to be treated. “Instead, I learned all of that from porn, but it wasn’t the truth,” the narrator says as a group of boys encircles a terrified and sobbing girl, some of them realizing the horror of what’s happening. The message: fathers and sons must talk about how girls are friends, sisters, wives and mothers to be cherished, respected and loved.
I asked Jason, Jordan and Jason Deparis, the freelancer who served as writer, producer, animator and director, to explain the making of No Porn for Kids, as well as how they hope their work can make a difference. Here is what they said:
Jason and Jordan, talk a little bit about your backgrounds and why you founded the Hidden Tears Project.
Jason: I founded Green Dog Films and have been making films for a long time. I directed a short, anti-trafficking documentary called Until They All Come Home, starring Mira Sorvino, as well as The Submarine Kid, a horror movie called Avenged, as well as other features. For me, Hidden Tears was really born out of the incredible shock of learning, through the trafficking documentary, that this was such a huge problem in the United States. I decided to put my skills and relationships that I’ve developed over the years to create high- level content that can move the needle on the issue in a way that engages viewers to actively get involved.
Jordan: I am a dancer, actress, producer and choreographer for film, television, music videos and live concerts. I started my journey to end human trafficking and sexual assault when the girls were taken by Boko Haram. After doing our work individually on the issue, we co-founded the Hidden Tears Project to tell innovative and real stories about human trafficking, gender inequality and sexual assault. We gathered a team of writers and producers from House of Cards, Empire, Narcos, Sherlock and more, and gave them a three-hour presentation at the LAPD anti-trafficking unit downtown.
Talk about some of the other work Hidden Tears has done so far.
Jason: We’ve made two short films, Unseen Dances, which is about human trafficking. Jordan was co-director and choreographer and it was part of the Red Sand Project. Tanya is about child trafficking and it was written by Sam Forman of House of Cards and directed by Monica Raymond from Chicago Fire. We work with some really talented people, but we’re very grassroots. We are continuing to fundraise project by project as we grow.
Jordan: Right now we’re developing a series with a unit of San Diego’s special forces and detectives and human rights attorneys that focus on rescuing girls, and there are some boys too, from gangs and pimps. We’re also doing quite a bit of virtual reality work for different companies. We have a narrative series that we’re doing in VR. It’s bilingual and it’s kind of like True Detective because it’s about two detectives trying to rescue kids. We’re also working closely with an appointee of the Obama administration who is working in private sector on assault and human trafficking issues.
What was Culture Reframed’s concept for the No Porn for Kids video?
Jordan: Gail Dine speaks a lot about trafficking, which is very connected to the commercial sex industry. A lot of girls in porn are also victims of trafficking, and porn is getting more violent, so what used to be a small group of people’s preference has become normalized. This is what young people are seeing. Culture Reframed wanted to make something that could help stop the cycle of abuse.
Jason Deparis, can you talk about your role as director and animator?
Jason D.: I am a television producer, animator and director, and I’m currently in the process of starting Infiniverse VR, a socially minded virtual reality production company. Not that long ago, I developed and produced a human trafficking documentary for MSNBC, and being on the front lines of that changed my life in ways that I can’t go back from. People think trafficking is not happening in our country, but it is and I want to do something to help. We got the original concept from Culture Reframed and I used that to develop a concept that was eventually accepted after it was shown to focus groups and we made changes. It was a very low budget, but all of us believe in this cause and want to make difference so we did our best.
How would you describe the look of the video?
Jason D.: They wanted a kind of 2D, hand-drawn look. I figured C4D would be great platform for that. What we tried to do visually was have something dark, but not so dark that it would make people feel hopeless. There is hope, and we wanted to show that. It’s sensitive subject matter because it involves pre-teens and this video will be shown during talks with parents.
How did you handle the motion capture on a tight budget?
Jason D.: We got a script approved and then we had child actors come in and do their parts, but we could only do that one time. I had to perform a lot of the motion capture we needed myself, especially the facial movements for everybody. The animation was done in two processes—do the motion capture and clean up, and then do additional animation on top of motion capture. To do that, I brought the motion capture into C4D and animated what was needed.
How long did this take, and what did you find most difficult?
Jason: We worked on it for almost a year on and off. It was definitely a learning process for us.
Jordan: It’s hard when you’re working with clients who don’t understand why something they want, like having a character take a bite out of an apple, will take three days to animate. They’re not upset, they just don’t understand it so a lot of explaining needs to happen. Also, we are experienced filmmakers, but animation is a whole other world for us and we’re learning. We set up a rigorous approval process and that helped.
How can people help support your work?
Jordan: People can follow Hidden Tears Project on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We have a blog, vlog and podcast that they can check out as we are always adding new content. They can tell their friends and spread the word so that this atrocity ends. We welcome partners and financial contributions so that we can continue to reach more people and support our partner non-profits. Join us in the fight to end trafficking, gender inequality and sexual assault.
We are working on creating a constant flow of innovative content to inspire and educate people around the US about how they can actually effect change in their communities, with local law enforcement, advocates, churches and others. By donating any amount that you can to Hidden Tears, you are directly influencing thousands of people who will be engaged to act across the country.
Click here to support the Hidden Tears Project.
Meleah Maynard is a writer and editor in Minneapolis, Minnesota.