As a recent intern and now animator/illustrator at ListenMi Caribbean, I want to contribute not only to my team but also to the regional animation industry. I got one step further to figuring out how I can do this last year, when I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the AnimeCaribe Animation and Digital Media Festival.
I represented The Jamaica Animation Nation Network, JANN, as part of the new Caribbean Digital Youth Forum. Its objective is to discuss new ideas and projects related to the growing digital economy. What’s cool is that I learned some key insights that helped me understand the industry better and how I can play a part in helping it grow. Here are 8 things I learned that could be useful for anyone interested in playing a part in growing the regional animation industry.
What I Learned
- Unity in uncertainty can help us share more. Meeting up with the fellow regional representatives was truly amazing. I learned a lot from and with them, speaking to them about their personal efforts in their countries and what challenges they faced and are still facing. These representatives hail from Grenada, Guyana, St. Lucia and Suriname. Each person shared similar sentiments; they never really represented their country alone like this before. However, I believe that being uncertain together propelled us to share our ideas boldly and work even better together during the time. It was phenomenal. Maintaining these connections and bonds is the next step for us.
- Explore VR/AR/MR and 3D Technology. The global industry is already pretty much there, and our region has got to push that way too. Sci-fi isn’t that much of Sci-fi anymore folks! The master classes venturing into stop motion, concept art, 3D design and 3D printing were breathtaking. They gave way to many opportunities to have hands-on learning experiences and connect with some new and familiar faces.
- Many international players want to work within the Caribbean region. We have similar storytelling structures, but with such a unique twist in perspective people want to hear our voice. Also, we have no English language barriers and our proximity geographically is ideal.
- Regional co-production is a possibility. With funding opportunities through Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and Creative Industries Innovative Fund (CIIF), regional partnerships are even more possible now. There’s been a regional collaborative effort in animation called ‘Pepperpot Valley’. It is a start and shows that regional collaboration for animation is possible.
- We still have our own local challenges. All of us currently suffer from very similar struggles with our own countries and internal governmental structures. Issues such as facilitating more opportunities, implementing incentives particularly for securing international projects/work and their management, and funding.
- Youth — me included — need to take responsibility and properly manage the mantle of those before us. We need to be serious, intentional and keep abreast with what is happening at the local, regional and international level if we desire to truly grow this sector. Thing is, creative sectors are what have been recorded to employ and help the GDP of regions globally, so we need to keep pushing.
- This growing regional industry is seriously not a walk in the park. Scarce funding, finding and working with team members, maintaining relationships in the face of gruesome deadline are just some of the trials and tribulations that come within animation. Expect the challenges to be similar to getting shot, stabbed and acting as a martyr time and time again. Yup, it can be that brutal.
- Networking is key. I was privileged to share some insights in one-on-one convos with a few awesome people, like local pioneer Jason Lindsay of Full Circle Animation and Caiphus Moore from EA. We’ve spoken a couple times before and I’ve learned a couple character designs tricks from Caiphus. He’s all about regional development and you know, he’s Trini. Meeting up with other artists, animators and gamers was also extraordinary and even getting to interact with government entities from ExporTT and even CARICOM was good too.
With all of that, I’m thankful for the experience; who I was able to meet and what I was able to learn. I’m also grateful for the tenacity Camille Selvon-Abrahams and her team have had to continue to keep such a festival alive for so long and make it such a wonderful experience for those who are able to attend!