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Animation Overtakes Film as Priority Area

Animation has been deemed a priority area by the Film Commission of Jamaica

The death knell hasn’t quite tolled for filmmaking in Jamaica, but it is animation that has now become the favourite child of the creative industries, at least from the perspective of the government. The fledgling animation industry has been listed as a priority sector with several initiatives being created to bolster its development. The latest move is the creation of an Animation Gap Analysis Workshop.

The workshop is slated for July 17, 2013 and is being staged by The Film Commission (at Jampro), in collaboration the Jamaica Coalition of Service Industries, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and comes in the wake of the inaugural Kingstoon Animation Festival and Conference held in June.

Film Commissioner and Director Creative Industries, Kimmarie Spence explains the reason for the shift in focus.

“The film industry has become an industry that requires incentives to get a certain level of work and the Jamaican economy doesn’t currently allow for that,” Spence said. Of course, members of the film community had been arguing for the creation of incentives long before the current state of the economy and in recognition of the country’s increasing loss of international projects.

According to Spence, Jamaica’s inability to woo large scale live action projects requires that the country finds an alternative source of much needed earnings, and animation provides a viable and credible alternative.

“We’re repositioning to continue the flow of work into the country,” Spence said. “Animation is booming with year to year double digit growth despite the recession.” She also explained that there is the hope to generate revenue by becoming a location for outsourced work, the development of locally created content and eventually merchandizing and offers opportunities in mobile technologies, education and advertising, not just film and television.

The film commissioner also explained that with animation, the government is seeking to create employment opportunities not only for those currently enrolled in institutions. As such, the development of the sector is being twinned with social development projects such as the Governor General’s ‘I Believe’ initiative.

The proposed gap analysis workshop is being created to help build out a roadmap for the development of the sector highlighting required investment as well as the types of educational focus required and the areas which need to be bolstered. The intention is to mine this information from submitted animation. The workshop will also feature a Masterclass session with James Caswell of Sheridan College and will hopefully lead to the creation of an animation finishing school.

Spence also explained that local interest in animation has developed on its own.

“Without any kind of attempt to sell it to anybody our young people are interested,” she said. The impressive turnout at Kingstoon which also received over 100 entries for its competition segment, bears out her argument.

“Let’s put something in our audiovisual industry that can takes us on the growth path through the 21st century,” she said.