Featuring films from Short of the Week alums Moth Studio and five other talented animators (Sam Ballardini, Hannah Jacobs, Amelia Giller, Jordan Bruner & Joanna Neborsky) the New York Times’ Conception series is an anthology of short films exploring the journey into Motherhood. Insightful, emotional, engaging and gorgeously-designed this sextet of shorts looks to ‘uncover stories that were less about parenting and more about the fundamental shift in identity that women experience when they consider becoming a mother’.

Interested to find out more about the brief and how they got involved, we spoke to the Moth Studio about their film Catie + Jen:

“The NYT approached us last year asking us to collaborate with them on a new series they had in development, around the subject of alternate motherhood”, Moth’s Margaux explains. The idea was to create 6 films telling 6 different stories of people around the world and their personal experience of motherhood”.

“The film we got assigned was the first film on the series and speaks of sisters Jen and Catie, who both struggled with infertility in different ways. The film takes us through their individual stories and the beautiful way they found to help and support each other through their struggle and their pregnancy. We approached their story with the subtlety and gentleness it deserved, adding the pomegranate as a metaphor for fertility and as the device that takes us through the film and the powerful decision that the sisters take as the film concluded”.

“We wanted the design to be very minimal, yet elegant and sophisticated, having the two female forms guiding our eye through the textured and prop-based environments. Similarly to our last film for the New York Times (Modern Love: A Kiss, Deferred) we wanted the visuals to support the poignant and powerful narration of the subjects without ever distracting from them.”

“We are proud to have made a film that represents two strong women finding their voice through the beauty of motherhood”

“We saw our involvement in the project as an opportunity to speak up about a sensitive subject that is not widely talked about, and that affects millions of women around the world. Both alternate motherhood and PCOS, the condition that Jen suffers from, are issues that need to be brought to light and that people should be made aware of. In a period where women’s voices are becoming stronger and more respected, we are proud to have made a film that represents two strong women finding their voice through the beauty of motherhood.”

We also spoke to RCA graduate, and an animator we’ve had our eye on for some time, Hannah Jacobs about her involvement in the series:

“Margaret Williams from the NYTimes contacted me and said that they had seen my work and thought it would be a good fit for the Conception series, Jacobs reveals. Aside from getting to collaborate with the NYTimes which in itself was a huge opportunity for me and super exciting, I read the brief and was totally blown away. The concept for the whole series was so inspiring and I felt really honoured to be a part of it.”

“Once I had read the full transcript of the interview with Gabrielle – who’s story I was animating – I began by sketching out little ideas based on different parts that stood out to me. I spent a lot of time establishing an aesthetic and colour palette that I felt reflected and was sensitive to the emotions and tone of Gabrielle’s story”.

“From there I began working on a storyboard that was initially just a visual response to the emotion of the story, which was fairly abstract and surreal in places. I then developed and wove in different elements that tied in to create a more coherent narrative. It was really important to me that the visuals complimented the story rather than distracted, so I hope I’ve managed to achieve this!”

“It’s an amazing opportunity for a freelancer and one man band like myself to reach an audience that otherwise wouldn’t be achievable”

“The animation was all frame by frame and animated in Photoshop, which was pretty intense as I had over 4 1/2 minutes to animate in 5 weeks!! Thankfully I had some extra help from some other wonderful animators along the way. I worked very closely with Margaret who art directed each episode and her team at NYTimes, so it felt like a true collaboration throughout the whole process.”

“It’s an amazing opportunity for a freelancer and one man band like myself to reach an audience that otherwise wouldn’t be achievable. I hope that it brings new eyes to my work and creates new opportunities for collaboration and commissions in the future.

You can see the rest of the films from the series below and if you enjoy the films be sure to check out the Moth Studio’s previous New York Times film A Kiss, Deferred and Freddy Arena’s Beyond Years