So often in superhero narratives, the focus is on the superhero to such a degree that supporting characters rarely get fleshed out in any meaningful way. This is especially true for female love interests, who are regularly limited to a “damsel in distress” role in which they are there solely to further the male hero’s story. The Adventures of Penny Patterson is a new short film that’s set to flip this perspective. It’s a superhero origin story told from the point of view of the hero’s girlfriend, a high school student who just wants to get her science fair project done.
The short is the graduate thesis film project of Stephanie Donnelly, an NYU student and a lifelong comic book fan. She’s writing and directing the short, and has started a campaign at Seed & Spark to finance the project; she’s looking to get $12,000, and is 39% of the way there already at just a week into the campaign.
I got to read the script for the project, and it’s both a fun story and a pointed commentary on the traditional tropes of the superhero genre. Stephanie brings a sharp, feminist perspective to the underrepresentation of women not just in comic book narratives but also in the film industry as a whole. Stephanie’s a female writer and director, and has created a project with a female lead because to intentionally counter the lack of women protagonists in film today. As she explains, “As a filmmaker, I strive to change those statistics by telling more stories about strong, complex women. I think now more than ever, we need to see more empowered female characters in superhero movies.”
The Seed & Spark campaign has a variety of reward levels, ranging from thanks in the credits to a digital download of the finished film to getting to be an extra in the project and even an associate producer. That last one will get you on IMDB, by the way, which is all sorts of cool. It’s a great project with a smart perspective that looks like it’s going to be really entertaining as well. I encourage you to check out the Seed & Spark page, see the video they’ve put together and read up on the project, and consider sending some money their way to help the project come to fruition. You can also sign up to follow the project; more followers can help it get featured on the Seed & Spark homepage and thus reach more folks.
The superhero genre can always use more women in starring roles, and The Adventures of Penny Patterson gives us just that! Check out the project and support it if you can!