MY YEAR OF DICKS with Pamela Ribon & Sara Gunnarsdóttir

Welcome to our March episode of the rePROFilm podcast. It’s Women’s History Month, and it’s also Oscars month, and we are SO excited to speak with two Academy Award-nominated filmmakers in this episode!

Our theme this month is virginity – the conversations we have about it, the cultural taboos, the societal expectations, the ridiculous gender expectations, and why, when it comes to sexuality and youth, focusing on healthy communication rather than shame or fear-based messaging, is perhaps a better way forward.

And what a better and more effective way to share messaging, than in film. In this month’s rePRO Periodical we are highlighting a short film called ‘My Year of Dicks’, which is an Academy Award contender for Best Short Animated Film, written and created by Pamela Ribon and directed by Sara Gunnarsdóttir.

It’s based on Pamela’s 2014 memoir, “Notes to Boys (and Other Things I Shouldn’t Share in Public)” which documents her resolution to lose her virginity as a 15-year-old in 1991 while growing up on the outskirts of Houston. The film is broken down into 5 chapters and five different awkward sexual encounters, with some kinda douchey guys. Style-wise, it’s giving me 90’s MTV vibes – with a moody, grunge soundtrack, a mixture of real film footage of a teenage Pamela, and some bold yet sensitive animation from Sara.

Now if you aren’t familiar with the names Pamela Ribon and Sara Gunnarsdóttir, you definitely know their work. Pamela is a writer, best known for her work on Disney’s Moana and Ralph Breaks the Internet. She’s a best-selling novelist, and co-host of the podcast Listen To Sassy, a weekly deep-dive through every issue of Sassy Magazine.

Sara is a director and artist from Iceland who has created animation, music videos, and original artwork for film and television, including Marielle Heller’s debut feature “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” and HBO’s Emmy-nominated “The Case Against Adnan Sayed.” She is one of 3 Icelandic artists nominated in various categories at the Academy Awards this year, and in keeping with Women’s History Month, Sara is the first Icelandic female director to be nominated for an Oscar!

We hope you will enjoy this conversation filled with sexual innuendos, lots of giggles, and a powerful conversation about how we dismantle harmful ideas around virginity. Take a listen to our interview!

Asha Dahya:
Hello everyone. Welcome to our March episode of the Repro Film Podcast. I’m your host Asher Dyer, and it’s Women’s History Month, and it’s also Oscar’s month. And I am so excited that I get to speak with two Academy Award nominated filmmakers in this episode. Our theme this month is virginity, the conversations we have about it, the cultural taboos, the societal expectations, the ridiculous gender expectations, and why when it comes to sexuality and youth focusing on healthy communication rather than shame or fear-based messaging is perhaps a better way forward. And what a better and more effective way to share messaging, than in film. In this month’s Repro Periodical we are highlighting a short film called ‘My Year of Dicks’, which is an Academy Award contender for Best Short Animated Film, written and created by Pamela Ribon and directed by Sara Gunnarsdóttir.

It’s based on Pamela’s 2014 memoir, “Notes to Boys (and Other Things I Shouldn’t Share in Public)” which documents her resolution to lose her virginity as a 15-year-old in 1991 while growing up on the outskirts of Houston. The film is broken down into 5 chapters and five different awkward sexual encounters, with some kinda douchey guys. Style-Wise, it’s giving me 90’s MTV vibes – with a moody, grunge soundtrack, a mixture of real film footage of a teenage Pamela, and some bold yet sensitive animation from Sara. There were so many relatable teenage moments in each of Pamela’s encounters, and I’m in awe of her willingness to put this stage of her life out there for the world, when all I wanted to do was hide away and hope to god no one would ever find out about my awkward embarrassing teenage life!

Now if you aren’t familiar with the names Pamela Ribon and Sara Gunnarsdóttir, you definitely know their work. Pamela is a writer, best known for her work on Disney’s Moana and Ralph Breaks the Internet. She’S a best-selling novelist, and co-host of the podcast Listen To Sassy, a weekly deep-dive through every issue of Sassy Magazine. Sara is a director and artist from Iceland who has created animation, music videos, and original artwork for film and television, including Marielle Heller’s debut feature “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” and HBO’s Emmy-nominated “The Case Against Adnan Sayed.” She is one of 3 Icelandic artists nominated in various categories at the Academy Awards this year, and in keeping with Women’s History Month, Sara is the first Icelandic female director to be nominated for an Oscar! I couldn’t wait to speak with both of these incredibly talented creatives, and I hope you will enjoy this conversation filled with sexual innuendos, lots of giggles, powerful conversation about how we dismantle harmful ideas around virginity, and my daughter screaming “mommy I need help with my Bluey puzzle!” in the background toward the end because I forgot my kids had a day off school the day we recorded this. Yep, we like to keep it all in the family here at rePROFilm! Take a listen to our interview!

Pamela and Sara, first of all, thank you both so much for joining me on the podcast today, and a huge congrats, first of all on your Academy Award nomination.

Pamela Ribon (03:34): Thank You.

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (03:35): Thank You.

Asha Dahya (03:36):
Talk me through what did it feel like getting the news? What was going through your head? How were you feeling?

Pamela Ribon (03:43):
I thought I was eight hours ahead, so she technically had to wait the longest, I think on nomination day.

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (03:48):
It was already one 30 in the afternoon and I was just like, in the morning I was just like cleaning my house and my, my husband couldn’t work either. We were just like, oh, come on. But yeah, it felt so nice cuz also we’ve been working on this pretty hard since September, like we decided to go for it.

Pamela Ribon (04:04):
Yeah. We decided to go for it. <Laugh>, it’s a really great way to put it. We grabbed people who who also thought we had a chance to at least be a little visible. I mean, I just thought the shortlist was gonna be near impossible. We’re, we’re very grateful to Ben Wa Stewart at the Animation showcase and all that he’s done to support independent animation in and an awards show that is traditionally dominated by studios and money and culture of what is or isn’t animation and what is or isn’t animated story and who gets to tell it. And we are beyond underdogs here, and so grateful to to be singled out with some really incredible films this year. We saw so many over this past year around the world that it’s impossible to pick five, but we sure are grateful.

Asha Dahya (04:55):
Yeah, I love that. And for people who are listening who aren’t quite aware, and this is something I’ve recently learned about to be on the shortlist and to be nominated for an Academy Award and other award ceremonies, it takes money and campaigning and a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears. And so when you’re saying that you did, decided to go for it, you’re talking about the money in the campaign and all that energy, correct?

Pamela Ribon (05:18):
Yes. I mean, you know, on our much smaller independent scale <laugh> I would say, but yes, you know, you’re like, I guess, I guess our movie can be prom queen. You know, that’s the <laugh> sort of the idea. <Laugh>, you’re throwing your hat in the Homecoming Court is the short list of Please. So I’m new to all this too, by the way, how this all goes. So learning that your animation academy, there’s an, there’s a membership of animation in the Academy that they get to watch and decide who will be in the top 15 shortlist. You have to qualify for that first with a number of things. And once you qualify for that and you make that, then the Animation Academy gets to vote only, only animation members get to vote on the five nominations for animated short film.

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (06:08): And then once we’re nominated, then everybody gets to vote all the academy

Asha Dahya (06:12):
Members. Wow. That’s a process. And it sounds like there’s definitely industry politics going on, but the fact that you are nominated, like you said, independent production, gets hope to other filmmakers and, and, you know, other animators and artists and creatives. So this is really, really cool and we are just so thrilled to be able to talk with you about this on the rePROFilm podcast.

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (06:32):
I feel the landscape is changing a little bit too because out of the five nominations right now, there’s only one studio film, which is Apple, the other, the other big studios just didn’t have a dog in the race this year. So it’s very much independent. I’m, I’m very honored to be in the group of five be because I think all those five, like, I think that quality is, is very good. And I think sometimes in the past, independent animators have been really frustrated with the academy because we haven’t really participated the independent people and it’s been all the studios, but that’s not the case now. And last year on independent film, one,

Pamela Ribon (07:13):
Five different countries, six, if we count that we have U and Iceland in, in this one. So SAT’s, the first Icelandic female filmmaker director nominated for an Academy award.

Asha Dahya (07:26):
Wow. And I saw in the, the, some of the Academy Awards articles are that I was reading, and by the way, I’m totally diverging from my question list right now, but there were a few Icelandic women who are nominated in the Academy Awards overall, along with Usad. There’s a few other women that are for different categories, but I thought that was really cool. Yeah.

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (07:44):
There were three of us Icelandic women that were shortlisted for the Oscars this year. And I don’t know, I think that’s pretty badass.

Asha Dahya (07:51): I will say that your, all your surnames look very similar, so Yes,

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (07:56): Yes. We’re the daughters of Iceland

Asha Dahya (07:59): <Laugh>. Oh, is so that, is that what it means?

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (08:01): Yeah. So I’m kuk. So my dad’s first name was Kuk and I am his daughter.

Asha Dahya (08:06): Ah, I love that.

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (08:08): And that’s how it goes.

Asha Dahya (08:09):
<Laugh>. Well, let’s talk about where the idea for my year of Dicks came from. And Pam, had you always wanted to use footage of your younger self at some point in your filmmaking career. Like when you were making that, did you know that, okay, this is going to be potential Oscar-winning material

Pamela Ribon (08:25):
<Laugh>? If you could see what it originally was, you could know that I couldn’t possibly have had <laugh> those ambitions when I was recording myself. I, I did like making film and video. I, you know, grew up watching M T V and all of those directors that, that came out of that scene, independent film and, and independent video. I, I loved emulating all of that stuff, and I was always writing at the time. So whether or not I thought this <laugh> I’m gonna put this on a global platform someday, <laugh>, I dunno that that’s I don’t know that I felt there. That was a possible dream, really. I, I at the time lived in a very small town in Texas. I wasn’t even, there was a high school for performing a visual arts. There was no option for me to join that. I, I just was on my own being weird and finding fellow weirdos who would do weird things with me. <Laugh>, that is the most important part of growing up, I think is, is finding that. And anytime that can happen tomorrow, you know, you could find your new group, but finding it early really helps.

Asha Dahya (09:32):
Yeah. And it definitely has a MTV nineties vibe when I, when you’re watching it with the graphics and the sound and the ambiance. So I, I definitely really love that. And so how, what was the process of kind of creating the sequences and putting together in you know, putting a narrative together?

Pamela Ribon (09:50):
When FX approached to this was made originally for an incubator they have for independent and emerging voices and they thought maybe this memoir of yours is, is a good place for an animated story because it’s about a young girl’s fantasies and animation really lets you get inside someone’s point of view in a unique way where anything goes. Right. And in fact, it should, anything should go and for you to be animating it. I mean, if you put this in live action, it’s just shy of Babylon <laugh> in terms of like, the budget for some of these scenes. So yeah, to be able to write as a screenwriter without a budget is, is sort of the beauty of that was how someone once described, the first time I was attempting a comic book, he was like, take your story structure and remove your budget.
And it’s, it is quite freeing. So once we thought of, you know, oh, I could play with all these genres and really immerse this each chapter into like the persona that Pam is trying on by this new boy, who might be the answer to her, who, who will be my one who gets to make this lifelong imprint and memory with me, on me, in me, yeah. <Laugh>. And, and that is where Sada came in. Once I saw her artwork that she had done for Diary of a Teenage Girl on the case against Unci, her ability to have a female voice be front and center, important and serious and fragile at the same time, you know, vulnerable is admirable. And I, I couldn’t, I just couldn’t imagine any other way it could be done. Once I saw this, I was like, that’s how it feels Right there.

Asha Dahya (11:26):
Thank you, <laugh>. Yeah. And Sara, I wanna get to your animation work in a minute because it’s just so brilliant. And the fact that I get to talk to you, having seen those two ma major productions is, is really, really awesome. But tell me about, you know, the film is a really great way to talk about topics like consent and autonomy and healthy communication around sexuality. So what were some of the messages you hoped to convey about those topics through the film? And I’d love to hear your point of view, you know, being from Iceland, you know, what is sexuality and conversations around that, like growing up there?

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (12:05):
Yeah, I think the message and, and everything that we’re saying, you know, it was already there before I came and, and, and that the consent is at the heart of it. It took me a little while to like be like, that’s what this is. Like, that’s, that’s what this is all about. And I’m a little bit younger than Pam. I was a teen a little later in the nineties, but it’s the same, it was the same culture. I feel like nobody was talking about consent. And I, I would’ve loved to see something like that when I was 16, 17. I feel like the sex education as Iceland was one talk one time for an hour in class when, I don’t know, we were so young. I felt like we were 12 or something, and I was like, not ready for it. I was just like, why are you talking this, this does not concern me, <laugh>, I’m a child. I wasn’t ready. So yeah, I feel like just going into, going into this completely blind and I don’t know, sometimes also, like, I think when we are teenagers or that was for me, like we tend to be so kind of inside of our own little world and all, all yeah. Like, we are such a center of the universe at this age. If it isn’t in the culture, like we don’t maybe realize that people are going through this. Like, it’s just, it’s weird. <Laugh> Yeah. Sorry, I don’t have no idea if I answered your question,

Asha Dahya (13:26):
<Laugh>. No, you, you did. And it’s, it’s really fascinating to see that, you know, growing up in Australia or I grew up where there’s a lot of influence of American culture and British culture and, and learning about what it’s like in America now, living here, it’s just really fascinating to see how there’s global aspects and there’s unique aspects to our culture, but o overall it’s very taboo. And especially in the nineties when the internet wasn’t really a thing. Right. Pam, Pam, what about for you? Like, how, how, what were the kind of messages you wanted to convey having gone through that and, you know, this being your story?

Pamela Ribon (13:58):
I really did want it to be a discussion of consent and pleasure. And when you’re thinking of this thing that is yours that you’re supposed to give away, like the, the, just changing the perspective of what it means to share this experience with someone for the first time or not right. To realize like, I don’t like any of this <laugh>, I don’t like it with him, or I don’t like it with her. I just don’t want it. I I think of pleasure differently. I wanna be, all of that wasn’t even an option back then to think of yourself as a a being. And what’s interesting is you are the center of the world. When you’re that age. You should be, because you’re supposed to be figuring out how to take care of yourself. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> without parental guidance or without someone in front of you, without the dominant structure in your life and how to take the reins of your own self.

And the fact that we never really put in how do you want to be touched and held and loved? And how do you wanna be vulnerable with someone who deserves the softest part of you and who is just, you know, not it. And, and no matter how hard you throw yourself at that wall, this is a wall that was not <laugh>, not looking at you or just, you know what I mean? Like the way that we just were taught, just keep trying. So was he or she. Just keep trying. Just keep throwing yourself at, at this idea. Immerse yourself more, and eventually you can tell yourself any story can be a sweet one if you are good enough at the words. And I think I found myself in a lot of situations where I would’ve and had been called the dumb one, the naive one, the gullible one.
You know, I get called gullible still, and I was like, do you mean I’m trusting <laugh>? Like, do you mean do you mean I’m a nice person who believes in you? <Laugh> a terrible face. How dare you? Yeah. How dare you. And and this really was that like, major look time of comedy and growing up of like, girls Gone Wild came right out of this. Right? So it, it goes from take it and then, you know, just, you know what, just throw it at us. Like let us see it. Let us decide whether or not let’s hold lights up to your cellulite and point out where you’re flawed. Like the actual human removed from the body that is being, like, that’s not the first time in history. I’m just saying this is where we really hit a pinnacle in terms of young sexuality and and consent.
That that consent was the idea of go ahead, judge me all over, destroy me. I’m stronger than that. And that was supposed to be pretty sexy. How were we ever supposed to spend any time wondering? Yeah. It’s devastating. Yeah. So, and I’m, I’m so in awe of contemporary sexual culture. And when younger people are able to put sexuality and gender on a different fluidity scale and structure and just be like, who is this whole thing, you and me and our connection and what you are and what I am and how we are and who we are, it’s so much more delicious and exciting. And no wonder, no wonder people who didn’t get it for themselves when they’re older are like just so mad about it that they wanna stop it. They want laws against it. Like, how dare how dare you use your body in some other way than what I was forced to do with mine. <Laugh>. It’s so sad. I’m not saying it’s okay. I’m saying it’s, it’s a little understandable that someone could be that hurt. Mm. Because they don’t really get this level of freedom.

Asha Dahya (17:42):
Yeah. That’s such a fascinating perspective on it because I wanna talk about a little bit about sex education and that culture and the whole idea of virginity and purity culture, which I grew up in a conservative evangelical background, so I’m very familiar with the books that we read and the lessons that we were taught, but it’s also part of almost every culture, that idea that especially as cis women, you are not, your body doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to someone else. Objectification, all of that. And, you know, we’d like to think that in the US in 2023 we’re so progressive, but just a look at the stats around sex education. We’ve talked about a lot on this podcast that less than half of the states mandate, comprehensive fact-based, medically accurate sex education, and a majority push abstinence only in this idea of purity and virginity. And I think everything about my year of dicks is kind of really speaking directly through them and be like, actually, this is what it’s like to be a teenager and go through that. And so it’s really important to have that communication. And so what do you hope your film will challenge in terms of the existing status quo that we’re seeing?

Pamela Ribon (18:57): I do hope… Oh, Sara is going to talk first. I’m so excited.

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (19:01):
I just hope that it gives girls that it opens up the world and that it gives them the courage to, you know, say we want things to be different. <Laugh>.

Pamela Ribon (19:15):
Yeah. I also hope it opens up a conversation within families, within your group of friends, but also really truly within your family or whoever it is that is a guardian of your life and heart. That there’s some kindness and understanding going both ways. You know, that I have seen some parents go, oh, I really need to talk to my kids <laugh>. You know what I mean? Like realizing, getting back in touch with your younger in self who just w was equipped with whatever they were equipped with. You know, what, whether it was abstinence only or whatever their friends were telling you or whatever magazines you happen to read. Magazines. Yeah. It, it is a collection of, and now that with the internet even more so you, it’s very easy to be fed not just misinformation, but just sort of like, really question whether or not you are a healthy individual
Mm. Because you’re exposed to a lot of things and you’re too young and too new to this world to have What, like sad is talking about a, a sense of external responsibility that kind of grounds you into, okay, <laugh>, what do I handle today? Each day is so huge, so huge. You might fall in love harder than you’ve ever fallen in love before at eight o’clock in the morning because someone touched your finger on their way to the front of the room. <Laugh>. Yes. And then you have, then you have an AP history exam that is worth 80% of your grade. These things are not fair <laugh>, but they’re just as important and they happen on a Tuesday. And I do hope that the film reminds people of that, of like how big, how big it all feels. And so it should have the space to learn, it should have the space that the freedom of innocence should provide. And that abstinence education also makes these boys, these kinds of dicks abstinence only teaches boys just go get it. She’ll say, no, that’s her job.

Pamela Ribon (21:19):
Yeah. Boys will be boys. You know, that whole thing, which I, I really feel like maybe will be like the oldest thing where you’re like, oh, who could say that? But I’ve still seen it in reviews for this movie. This is a girl navigating a situation where boys will be boys. And I think maybe there is a focus on young women in this, but I hope because it’s a female point of view, it’s really illustrating what we’re equipped with at this age and what what boys at the stage are, are taught and the, and the the different kinds of genres they inhabit to try to figure out what is a worthy man, what is a man? You can tell I have some sex sometimes <laugh> this man, but like a man that’s, I mean that’s, we were like, oh man. Right? That’s how we were grown. I’m like, some woman is like, no. Oh my goodness, I’m gonna faint and sweat and he’ll do it all. And the more I don’t want it, the more he’ll show me I’m the only one. And good Lord, that’s exhausting. Yeah. Is that the answer to your reproductive question?

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (22:26): <Laugh>

Asha Dahya (22:28): Brilliantly answered.

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (22:31):
I also think it’s important to, for us as adults and to teenagers and to like, make teenagers realize that communicating with each other and they’re not just born knowing how to communicate and how to be in the society. Or like, I feel like I think when I was a teenager, just thought everybody outside of myself were a hundred percent and knew exactly what they were doing.

Asha Dahya (22:57): Yeah. That’s how it feels.

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (22:59):
Teenagers have to also learn how to communicate. It’s not something that you’re just supposed to know. And I would’ve loved to kind of realize that <laugh>, when I was young,

Pamela Ribon (23:09):
I definitely knew the difference when I was with someone who was genuinely interested in me. Do you know what I mean? That I was not a number or an just an available option, but like that I was even that I was complex or confusing, gave them a second to ask more. Isn’t that, isn’t that amazing? My turn on is someone listening to me <laugh>.

Asha Dahya (23:37):
I know, right? It’s like baseline some, I mean, that’s in, in the film without giving too many spoilers away. I hope everyone watches this though. But that’s Sam, that’s yeah, that’s him. You know? Yeah. He was there the whole time and it’s like, it’s him. I’m watching you go by the second or third. I’m like, Tim, come on, come on back. It’s Tim, it’s him <laugh>,

Pamela Ribon (23:56): But also, you know, doing anything with him might ruin that. So you have this, you know,

Asha Dahya (24:02): Delicate balance,

Pamela Ribon (24:03):
Delicate balance of you love me, but at a certain point, what if you see so much of me you don’t love me anymore. That’s a scary thing. We’re kind of taught to assume as well. Don’t show ’em too much. Don’t give too much. Don’t be too much. Cuz at a certain point, why buy the cow? Like all that stuff.

Asha Dahya (24:22):
Yes. Yeah. I mean all, all these big, very big feelings and emotions and thought process that we need some communication and healthy guidance around, like you were saying Sara. So yeah, it’s definitely a very big thing to go through. Big things to go through as a teenager. So

Pamela Ribon (24:39):
I would say, and they keep going though. You, you know, you find new things about yourself all the time. You find new things that please you and stimulate your pleasure centers or your intellect or both. And this isn’t purely a teenage experience. There’s something that we forgive about the teenage experience in retrospect, but not when it’s happening. When we change laws and repeal Roe v Wade, we are no longer respecting consent. You know what I mean? We’re no longer consenting individuals.

Asha Dahya (25:10): Yeah

Pamela Ribon (25:10): Yeah. When forced to, to carry a baby to term

Asha Dahya (25:15): Powerful reminder, all the Republicans listening, which is zero.

Pamela Ribon (25:19): Find someone. We’re trying to do some good here.

Asha Dahya (25:23):
We’re  sending this to Ron DeSantis. Just FYI. Good boy. <Laugh>. Well, switching gears a little bit, but still in the same vein of my year of Dicks, Sara, you’re the director as well as animator, and I wanna talk about your brilliant work on Mario Hell as the diary of a teenage girl, HBO’s the case of Adan Saed. And I, first I wanna find out, how did you and Pamela first meet and decide to work on this film, and what do you, what do you draw upon from people’s stories when creating your animation?

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (25:54):
Our producer, Janet Jeanine, who I’ve known for a long time, we were at Cal Arts together. She had been working a lot with fx and I think she recommended me along with some other animation artists. So I ended up on a list that got shown to Pam, and luckily Pam just kind of chose me, <laugh>, which I thought was very cool. And then I brought Jeanette o on as a producer. I, I knew that she has recommended, had recommended me for this, and I had never really worked with an animation producer before, so I was very happy that she joined us. Yeah. And then I was reading the scripts and Pamela had already, you know, put everything in there. She put everything in there, like the play with genres, which I really was into and I really loved. And when I was reading it, I immediately thought of some animation artists that I really admire and had worked with in the past, and they all said yes to joining me. We were a very small team. We were I hired seven animators and three background painters.

Asha Dahya (27:01):
Wow. Yeah. Feels like a lot. But I don’t know anything about making a short animated film. <Laugh>. Is that, is that, is that a small amount of animators? Is it usually more?

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (27:10):
I think if you kind of compare it to a big studio production, it’s very small. <Laugh>.

Asha Dahya (27:16):
Yeah. Very, very. Oh, okay. You know what, I’m just gonna Google <laugh>. Yeah. Tell me about your process of putting each of the five animated sequences together for each of the five stories.

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (27:29):
Once I had paired each chapter with an animator who I asked to land their artistic hand because all the animators on this are fantastic artists in their own right and filmmakers in their own right. Then I made storyboards with that in mind that some, a little part of each chapter I would basically give to, to this other artist. So some of it was a little open-ended, but I made sure that I had storyboards for the story all the way through. So, we wouldn’t get derailed <laugh>. But I was very happy to kind of share it with all these artists. And, and then, because I’m not used to, this is the biggest production for me by far that I’ve done. And it gave me some sense of security to have a small team and, and ask them to do the whole thing with me and not just kind of come in and do what they’re really good at and, and their, their own art in a way, but also that we will all together build this foundation of the story that allows then each person to, to, to go off and play. That worked really well. And I was able to kind of also say or decide, you know, the, the character design is, you know, there’s kind of, you know, this is how I draw a character, and if we can just kind of have that in mind, but just to just do your thing, like I like the idea of having Pam a little bit of fluent, and because the team was small, I felt, I could say, we’re all part of Pam, you’re all gonna be a part of Pam, so if your way of drawing comes through and your shots, I’m fine with that because also you’re gonna do this little sequence that is all you. So that was fun, <laugh> and exciting. I was actually a little worried at first that how it would actually work in a, in a, in a, a story that is big like this. And it’s not just like a tiny sequence within a live action project that I’m used to doing. So I was a little bit worried, but when that first episode came together or the first chapter, I would say the first chapter we worked on was the Horror show. It was such a thrill to see it come together and see it work and, you know, it looked beautiful and it was just working <laugh>. It was great.

Asha Dahya (29:54):
Yeah. It was all brilliant. Kudos to you and the whole team for making such really brilliant sequences. And like you said before that the animation gives you a unique point of view that you weren’t able to see in a reenactment, for example. So really brilliant. Pam writing for Disney’s Moana and Ralph Rex, the internet is clearly very different from my year of digs. What was the most challenging aspect of writing something autobiographical or, or was it an easier project than others since it was your experience?

Pamela Ribon (30:27):
It was easier in every way. And here’s why. <Laugh>, it doesn’t take nearly as long. There aren’t as many goal posts that you have to hit. And n notes are in a smaller group, and also you have yourself to check in with in a way that when you’re writing on a big studio film, parts of you are in it, but it’s not for you. It’s not of you, I guess is what I mean. It’s not of you. There’s thou there’s a thousand people working on it, <laugh>, you know, there’s hundreds of animators. Yes. So there’s all this, you’re part of a giant machine that when you step back, you’re like, those wheels, that wheel, that wheel <laugh>, like I worked really hard on the oil and that wheel, but you’re not, you know, you don’t look back and go, oh, I, I know. I mean, sometimes you can remember a little feeling or a day, but this a hundred percent <laugh>, that’s my face in it and my family and my memories.
So for me as a person who often writes about myself, it’s free and fun. I’d never really, I was so confident in, in what Saha was, was bringing to the table and the team that she had assembled that I think our earliest stuff getting to like a timing together and editing together, you know, she’s in, she’s editing this and I’m watching it with like, my own sense of timing or whatever. So that was probably our, like closest onboarding, was just starting to understand each other’s rhythms. Sas really good at holding on something longer than I’m comfortable with <laugh>, which is, I know it’s right because I’m just like
Asha Dahya (32:04): That magic argument, excuse.

Pamela Ribon (32:06):
She’s so good at that. And I’m someone who comes from, you know, this kind of big giant heart filled comedy stuff. How do you keep someone, how do you keep a character that you’re rooting for the whole time, even when they’re making mistakes, even if they’re a fish. Right. You know, like even if they’re a pig, like how to make us care about things and characters and objects sometimes that we would normally never meet is different when I’m talking about myself, because I know what really happened. And then I also need to make sure that it’s relatable to every single person in the whole wide world. That’s the Disney demographic here. I got to be a little more selective. Like, maybe not, maybe not toddlers, <laugh>, yeah. Tan and up. Sit down

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (32:56):
Yeah. And I think also it’s worth mentioning that FX network was so supportive and or, you know, hands off, which felt very supportive. And I was just amazed that they were paying for this and allowing us to do this, and then just like truly allowing us to do it. They just, like Megan Reed was our point of contact with fx and she never insisted on anything. She just allowed us to come to her when we needed her eye and her notes mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and she gave great notes. Otherwise it just felt like this was our project and we got to do what we wanted to do, the way we wanted to do

Pamela Ribon (33:37):
It. Her notes were that way too. Her notes were, keep going, do more. I think you can beat this. And we were like, are you ki like, we thought we’d, we thought this was too much. And she’d be like, this is not enough. You keep going. <Laugh>. That kind of encouragement I think is, it’s, it’s rare in my experience to be told. There’s more of you. You can, you can mine and we will not call it too much.

Asha Dahya (34:03):
I’d love to talk about the idea of sexual freedom and the freedom to explore your own sexuality, which is a terrifying concept to many people still, like we mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, talked about earlier and the fact that there are politicians who never had that and then are making rules that no one else can have what they never had. And I also love how the dynamic between your parents, Pam, is very different between your dad, from your dad to your mom. I thought that was really fascinating to watch that. Can we talk about how censorship and punishment are not really the best way to form healthy ideals? And perhaps what is a better way to form healthy ideals? You know, the idea of saying, don’t talk about that, don’t have sex, you’re gonna get pregnant and die versus, all right, let’s have a very awkward conversation, but let’s have a conversation. What, what is a better way to have those based on both of your experiences or what you are learning through making this film?

Pamela Ribon (34:54):
Well, shame and fear-based parenting does create an obedience child sometimes, but it doesn’t create an informed person to walk through life. I dunno how that creates a lasting relationship that can evolve as you stumble or have confusion. You, you feel like you always have to have the right answer and you have to always present the right face. And eventually you become, I think, performative for whoever it is that you need to give you any kind of freedom. I don’t have the answers, but I know that it caused me to have less and less respect for the dominant authoritative figure in my life because I just wasn’t a real person and was told, you know, that’s not my job to get or understand you or talk to you in this way. My job is to make sure you don’t get pregnant and you go grow up to be a doctor. And this is not a, that’s not a lot of options for a human

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (35:59):
Teens or young people are gonna go get into all sorts of situations, whether you say, just don’t get pregnant and just do as I say, or, or if you have the talk, I mean mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, the situations are always gonna happen. And if, if you talk about it honestly and openly, hopefully they’re just gonna be more, not just like knowledgeable about the situation, but also more confident in themselves.

Pamela Ribon (36:29):
Yesterday, my kid and my kid has not seen this film because this child is under 12 <laugh> and, but there’s a deep, deep interest as more and more people are talking about it. Like, what could it be? It’s got a provocative title. She knows enough to know, like when she says it, people pay attention <laugh>. And yesterday she did see a little part of it and she saw the part where there’s a keg stand. She was like, what is that? What is happening? Why is this happening? What are they doing? And trying to just, just, just take this part and explain like, look, sometimes you’re alone at a party and, and there’s something that can like, like just shoot beer <laugh>. And some people will put their mouths on that have everyone hold them in a headstand and they’ll just put that in their bodies until it shoots out of their nose or they throw up.
And she was like, why? And I said, because at a certain point everything sounds like a fun idea. And it sounds like it’s making people laugh. It’s enjoying people. You are the center of attention. Sometimes you are just too new to the situation to know, I think I could get hurt. I think I’ll have regrets and you can’t. No. And I said, so the more you are exposed to all the things that could happen to you on a knowledge level, please read books. I was like, please read books. This is why we tell you to read books. The more stories you experience, the more you know how it went for someone else, the more you can find out how you want it to go for you. And then I asked her to leave <laugh> <laugh> before she learned anything else today. I was like, listen, we’re gonna take this film scene by scene because you are going to have more questions than probably anyone else in the world will ever have questions about this film. And some of them are not for today only because there’s only, like, you gotta take it in bites. You can’t eat the whole pizza <laugh>
And I don’t know if that’s better, but I, I feel better. I feel connected to her and I feel like she feels safe, loved, and she has a safe space.

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (38:33): Yeah.

Pamela Ribon (38:33):
Home as a safe space. I moved around a lot. It, you never knew how long we were gonna stay somewhere. I went to 13 schools. Home is the place where you can go and you’ll be safe is something I created for myself as an adult with this family here. And it took a very, very, very long time to know that I had the right to call claim and make a safe home.

Asha Dahya (38:58):
You try to do the best you can and, and Sara, I’m sure it’s the same with you and your daughter. You’ve, you figure it out as you go along and figure out what works and what doesn’t and that having that safe space and that relationship that works for you both.

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (39:12):
Yeah. I’m terrified of my daughter becoming a teenager. <Laugh> <laugh> with the internet and everything, the phones. But yeah, it’s like, I, I think I can take comfort in knowing that we can just talk about it. We can always talk about everything. It’s on the table.

Asha Dahya (39:26):
Yeah. My, my husband and I have been talking about how we just, no matter what it is, even if it like terrifies us to our call, we just wanna be the first point of call as opposed to the last. And I think that’s, you know, that comes with developing that relationship when they’re young and figuring out as you go along. So. Well, I wanna switch to the Oscars now because this is exciting and this is gonna be released just before the Academy Awards in March, but oh my gosh. Re regardless of the result on the night of the Oscars, the fact that an animated short film called My Year of Dicks is nominated and some very fancy person who’s gonna stand on stage and read that out to millions or billions of people across the world, <laugh> just warms my heart. <Laugh>. so what are your goals for the film beyond award season? I know it just came out on Hulu.

Pamela Ribon (40:18):
Mm-Hmm. Yeah. For a limited time. It’s on Hulu so that everybody can see why we’re talking about it. <Laugh>, I mean subscribers, but we’re also on Vimeo. If you’re not a Hulu person or you’re in a different country, cuz I think it might just be here

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (40:31):In theaters right now with Oscar shorts. Yeah. Mm-hmm. <Affirmative> has a theater room.

Asha Dahya (40:35): Yes. Go see it. Go see it if you can.

Pamela Ribon (40:38):
What are, well we’re hoping to keep going with this story to make a TV series out of it. Yeah, we have seasons thought out, <laugh> and willing participants to keep going. We’ve really enjoyed making this together and are not ready to say goodbye. So we’re hope, we hope we have more Pam, Sam, and Karina in the future.

Asha Dahya (41:00):
And will there be other characters or will Pam still be the main person that we see at like, different aspects of her life? Or we’re gonna see new characters enter the, enter the scene in a series potentially. Can you divulge that?

Pamela Ribon (41:11):
She’s sometimes a, a television executive. Asha. Sometimes this podcast is how to pitch a TV series <laugh>. These are the questions you get. Yeah, there’s gonna be other characters and things. Everybody has a year of dicks at some point, at least I hope. I hope you don’t, but everybody does <laugh> and you know which one it is for you right now. You just check in with yourself and you’re like, no, it was actually two and a half years of Dicks, but I had it <laugh>. And they aren’t all physical body parts. The Dicks <laugh>, <laugh>. So

Asha Dahya (41:49):
Metaphorical and physical,

Pamela Ribon (41:50):
Metaphorical physical, academic, medical. There’s so many kinds of dicks out there to say political. Political. So as long as people keep dicking around, we hope to be able to share stories about rising above <laugh>. Oh no, everything’s pun. It’s hard. It’s hard to stop

Asha Dahya (42:15):
So many puns. And now look, now look who we are now. No nominate for an Oscar. It’s beautiful. That’s right. I would also love to keep everyone posted on the future iteration of my year of Dixon and maybe even come back to this conversation once your child is a teenager and you, oh gosh, they do get to see the film, you know? Okay. Maybe, maybe just side note, think about it. No brush. See a few years, but yeah, <laugh> <laugh>. See you in a few years. SAR maybe you and I can convene in another 10 years when our kids are teenagers and figure out Yes. Okay, what was the conversation? But I’m sure it’ll be a really great way to open up conversations and talk about consent, autonomy, and healthy communication. And that’s what it’s all about here. So how can we follow you both? Where can we find you slash stalk you online and follow what you’re doing next?

Pamela Ribon (43:04):
Well, we’re both @myyearofdic’s on Twitter, on Instagram. I’m @PamelaRibon and @Sara_Gunnarsdóttir.

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (43:14): I’m on Instagram. I’m not on Twitter. Yeah.

Pamela Ribon (43:17): Yeah. But she’s like words. Ew, <laugh>

Asha Dahya (43:20): <Laugh> animation only people

Pamela Ribon (43:22): Please.

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (43:23): Visual

Asha Dahya (43:24): <Laugh>

Pamela Ribon (43:24):
See what I’m saying? Or stop it. Yeah, so we’re all over the place. We’re campaigning. We’re campaigning so much. If you liked ‘My Year of Dicks’ tell a friend and share it with a young person that, you know. I think that has been harder for us to get out. You know, I keep trying to be on TikTok and they keep censoring ‘My Year of Dicks’ like we can’t last five minutes on TikTok!

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (43:50):
<Laugh> also, can I say something? Because we are doing this theatrical run now, and I think we are the last in the program and they put this warning before the film comes on, which just seems like this film is just something terr… Like horr… Like something grotesque or something.

Pamela Ribon (44:06):
It’s like take your children and run before this thing begins there and no. Yeah. <laugh>, there’s no chainsaws in this.

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (44:13): There is no nudity in this.

Asha Dahya (44:14): You might find a real relatable teenage experience.

Pamela Ribon (44:18): <Laugh> Yes.

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (44:19):
Terrifying. So I just want, I just wanna say if parents wanna take their teens, I would, I would show this to my 12, 13 year old. Yeah. And it’s just a sweet story with a big heart. The worst thing that could happen is that they hear a swear word, <laugh>. So just wanna put it out there.

Pamela Ribon (44:36):
They might learn that they might wanna start asking questions about sex
Asha Dahya (44:40):
<Laugh>. That would be a positive Yeah. Reaction and you know, to the film and swear words as if they haven’t heard it already. Yeah,

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (44:49):
Right. Exactly.

Asha Dahya (44:51):
It really is a story. It’s not just about dick’s. It is really about heart as well. And thank you, Pam, for sharing your story and your work with us. Sarda, thank you so much for talking about animation and bringing such beautiful nuance and visual layers to this film. It’s really, really wonderful to see. So go see my year of Dicks support it amplify articles, pictures, Instagram posts, everything, because it’s really, really wonderful. Thank you both so much for joining me today on the Repro Film Podcast. Thank
Pamela Ribon (45:22):
You so much.

Sara Gunnarsdóttir (45:22):
Thank you.

Asha Dahya (45:25):
If you want to watch ‘My Year of Dicks’, you can find a link in this month’s Repro Periodical, and if you’re in the United States you can also watch it on HULU right now! We are sending all the winning vibes and keeping everything crossed for Pamela and Sara as we watch the Academy Awards on Sunday March 12th. In the meantime If you haven’t subscribed to the repro periodical, head to where you can find links to previous podcast interviews and have each month’s episode delivered straight to your inbox. The Repro Film podcast is executive produced by mama.filmHosted and produced by me, Asha Dahya, Edited by Kylie Brown, With original music by ParisJane and Marrice Anthony.The periodical is programmed by Neha Aziz and written by Emily Christensen Alex Sgambati is our Social Media Manager and Rebecca Sosa is our Distribution & Impact Strategist. You can find us on social media @reprofilm on Instagram and @reprofilmfest on Twitter. I look forward to bringing you our next conversation.

Bye for now!