"Sex Moves" "Sex Moves"

Sex is fun.

This message may seem self-evident, but in Alex Bernas’s view, it’s in danger of being eclipsed. Alarmed by the insidious influence of pornography on society, the animator set out to reclaim sex as a joyful act. The result is Sex Moves, a gaudy, goofy, not-quite-explicit celebration of carnal lust. The two-minute film is being directly released online, exclusively launching on Cartoon Brew. Watch it below:

Bernas studied animation at the U.K.’s University at Bournemouth and Royal College of Art. His graduation film at the latter, White Lilacs, caught the eye of cross-media production company Partizan, which signed him. Since then, he has been working as a 2d animator between London and L.A. He made Sex Moves at Partizan’s in-house animation studio in London.

The challenge in the film was to strike the right tone, conveying the pleasure of sex while entirely avoiding the conventions of porn. Below, Bernas talks Cartoon Brew through the making of the short:

Alex Bernas
Alex Bernas

Bernas: I was pooped after a year of failed pitches, so took a month off to scratch the creative itch. Sex Moves was based off a drunken chat with some friends. It percolated in the back of my head for a year or two, then was further shaped in reaction to a couple of articles I read on pornography. A slew of them were published by The Guardian as I was ramping up for production. One article highlighted research which shows that British teenagers are increasingly watching porn because schools do not tell them “what to do” in sexual encounters. Another commented on the prevalence of rape and abuse videos on porn site Pornhub.

I guess it’s commonly accepted that the sex depicted in pornography isn’t realistic, but I feel it goes a little further than that: there are so many power fantasies; the whole thing feels aggressive. And sure, I don’t want to judge anyone for their fetishes, but what these films miss out is the awkwardness and humor. All of this made me want to bring a bit of goofiness into the act, almost as an antidote to other readily available depictions of sex.

I pitched Sex Moves as a short film to Partizan and they were very supportive. Working out of their London studio, I loosely boarded the film in a couple of days and wrangled a few friends to help. The whole process took about a month, with the crux of the production being done in two weeks.

We spoke about how to keep is positive. One key thing was that the characters had to be smiling the whole time, happy to talk about their favorite sex moves to a curious young man. We felt it would be more humorous to have people miming out their moves rather than demonstrating them [explicitly]. From the start, we wanted to position this film as far away from pornography as possible while still being about sex: we don’t want to titillate, just to entertain.

Generally, I try to work with limited color palettes. It makes cleanup/coloring quicker, and it also forces you to make weird decisions — like a character with green skin and purple hair. I tend to favor a more “cartoony” aesthetic, and I don’t spend a lot of time on backgrounds, so I find that brighter colors work best.

Anyway, I wanted Sex Moves to be happy and accessible so I looked at a lot of pop art. Keith Haring in particular captures a raucous energy with his heavy linework and vibrant color choices, a real party — which is exactly what the film’s about! A celebration of awkward sex.

To see more of Bernas’s work, visit his website and Instagram.

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