Inclusion StatementThe characters are as diverse in ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation as the SF Bay Area itself. The production and artistic team also reflect the diversity of the Bay Area and of the fictional characters in Priced Out. People who live and work in these communities helped to develop the script.
About The Project
WHY YOUR RENT SO HIGH
Nearly everyone living in a major city is experiencing the stress, instability and high costs of housing. Priced Out is our response to the increasingly polarizing debate about why nearly everyone is struggling to afford the price of housing.
Is that cities haven’t built enough?
Or is what's being built unaffordable?
Is it a lack of regulations?
Or too many?
These questions bounce around mainstream media with villains and champions on all sides, but the common problem is that most people just don’t understand how housing works. But we do.
WE CAN TELL YOU WHY...
Co-Founders of media non-profit [people. power. media], Dyan Ruiz and Joseph Smooke, report on marginalized communities impacting public policy. And in San Francisco-- where we’re based-- the biggest issue is housing. We also have experience working as affordable housing developers, architects, legislative aides and community organizers.
What better way to bring all our experience together than with an animated series? We want people to understand the real causes of the housing affordability crisis, and what to do about it.
We’ve produced video-based news features and lengthy analyses that explain why the path that most politicians are taking--deregulating housing development and blindly increasing housing supply-- won’t make housing affordable. These reports have reached hundreds of thousands of people around the world. But we know what we really need is a cultural shift.
THE MAGIC OF ANIMATION
Animation is magical in creating worlds that are distinct, yet familiar. We can see ourselves in the picture and enjoy the new expanisve reality. With drawn characters, they can act out what we all experience every day, but these characters see places we can’t-- like inside the Mayor’s office; inside a developer’s business plan; and even a mural that comes alive to tell the story of San Francisco.
In Priced Out, Curtis, a public school teacher, and Riley, a part-time tech worker, need to find a new place to live because their tiny apartment isn't going to work with a baby-- and a rent increase-- on the way. With their smartwatch Olive, they journey through San Francisco to talk with a developer, banker, realtor, activist and finally the city's Mayor.
REPRESENT PEOPLE, NOT DEVELOPERS
Through Priced Out, we want to popularize the idea that politicians should be representing people and not developers. We've seen from the inside how bad policy gets made. Politicians in San Francisco’s City Hall make bad decisions on housing because they don’t know enough about it. Or they’re swayed by donations from developers and the industry’s spin.
We want to present new and challenging concepts, without judgement. In Priced Out, it’s not a battle of good vs evil, it’s a process of discovery-- a mystery. Not a whodunnit, but a a whydunnit.
Priced Out is more than a moving infographic, teaching you lesson about the world. We wanted you to care about the characters and learn with them. We don't demonize developers or housing financiers, but make it clear to you, they’re motivated by profit. Not building something you can afford.
WE ALL NEED THIS RIGHT NOW
The media push from the real estate industry is relentless. As politicians increasingly make policy decisions based on this false and misleading information, rents and the cost of homes continue to climb to record levels. More and more people are pushed out, evicted and priced out.
Meanwhile housing is more and more just a commodity. Private equity firms and corporations are buying up vast portfolios of real estate and focusing only on profits to their investors, not the people inside the homes.
We need Priced Out right now. Everyday, people are getting displaced from San Francisco, the Bay Area. And so many cities are becoming unaffordable. Ninety and 100 year old grandmothers are getting evicted. People of color. Working people. So much of the inequality in San Francisco and cities is driven by a lack of access to stable and affordable housing.
Communities and organizations fighting displacement have been asking for years for a simple story that will help to turn the tide. Priced Out is comprehensive, engaging, and will change how people understand housing. And shows a path to affordability for all communities.
Grassroots organizations and diverse communities trust [people. power. media], and they are excited that we are embarking on this ambitious project.
Join us in supporting Priced Out today.
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About This Team
It takes quite a crew to make an animated series! Our first step was to find an animator, and we were lucky to find Brooklyn-based, socially-motivated animators, Rip & Roy. When they expressed excitement about the project we knew we were on the right track. Next step was to develop the script and bring the characters to life. We were fortunate to be able to work with Joe Sikoryak who has worked on animation and live action features for many years. Our first take at developing characters and a story arc intrigued him, and he was then able to guide us through a process to take our concept and make it work for animation. We also spent a lot of time studying Nancy Beiman’s book “Prepare to Board! Creating Story and Characters for Animated Features and Shorts” which grounded us in the technique of the entire process of creating an animated feature. With these components in place, we pushed forward with assembling the entire team that would take this feature from concept to reality.
The Directors, Producers and Creators
Dyan Ruiz and Joseph Smooke of [people. power. media]
Dyan and Joseph founded [people. power. media] in 2012, and since our founding, we have always explored the most effective ways to tell each particular story without locking ourselves into any particular medium or approach. Our default is video, but we have always been intrigued by the storytelling power and ability for audiences to connect emotionally with complex issues and analyses when presented with animation rather than live action or infographics. We had been reporting on the housing beat for years, and the constant request we kept hearing was that communities needed something different than what was circulating in the mainstream or indie media about housing. So, we decided to take on the challenge of building content from scratch that would bring an entirely fresh perspective on the issue, to let everyone in on the secrets of how the housing industry really works.
Frederick Noland and Fernando Martí
Finding an illustrator in the Bay Area who understands animation and can work within our budget is extremely challenging. Most Bay Area animators who have the talent to pull off a project like this are working for big animation studios like Pixar or Lucasfilm or they’re working for gaming companies like Electronic Arts or Nintendo. It took a lot of networking, but we finally found Frederick Noland who had done extensive illustration work for local print publications, and had created some assets for animation projects. He is deeply familiar with the people and places we wanted to represent in this project and he had the technical skill and passion for the subject matter that all added up to a perfect match. In Episode 4, there’s a mural that comes to life in the Mission District of San Francisco. The Mission District is famous for two things-- the birthplace of the American style burrito and for being home to dozens of beautiful murals that tell beautiful and layered stories about Latino and immigrant life. A colleague of ours, Fernando Martí, lectures local university students about the history of land use and development in San Francisco. He has also been the illustrator and poster designer for activists and organizers in the Mission for many years. He was thrilled to be included in the project.
Rip & Roy
Similar to illustrators, it’s hard to find animators who are skilled enough to pull off what our vision was and not be doing as a side gig while working with one of the big Hollywood-oriented companies. We were fortunate enough to find Rip & Roy by basically telling anyone and everyone we know about the idea we had for this project. One day, a colleague here in the Bay Area told us that he knew about animators out in Brooklyn who specialize in exactly the types of projects that Priced Out represents.
The Voice Actors
Barbara Quesada, Christopher Zippy Kaufman, Liliana Herrera, Rachel Lastimosa, Ryan Morales
It all started with Joseph contacting Barbara. Barbara met Joseph when she was still working as a photojournalist. Barbara was immediately excited about the project and seemed perfect for the parts of Riley and Olive. She then recommended her colleague, Zippy to play Curtis. For the mural’s voice and the real estate agent, Rosa, we wanted particular accents that only people local to the Bay Area can emulate properly. Liliana Herrera is a local musician and voice actor and was perfect for the role. Rachel Lastimosa is also a local musician and voice actor and had the perfect voice for the Mayor. We networked through the local Filipino arts community to find Ryan Morales, a pro voice actor who knew exactly what we were looking for with Ernesto which is a very particular Filipino accent, and he was perfect for the role of Sumir as well.
We have known Rachel through the Filipino arts community for some time, especially through her band Dirty Boots. When we saw a production at the Bindlestiff Theatre in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood for which Rachel wrote and performed the entire score, we were introduced to a new dimension of her artistic talent. She has a huge role in creating and producing all the music and soundscape for Priced Out.
The Technical Producer
Joe is the one who guided us from having a concept to having a real project. HI expertise and patient mentoring led us to finalize the script and coordinate technical details between our illustrators and animators, and he also brought his expertise into the recording studio when the actors laid down the voice tracks.
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