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Kingston Gets 'Tooned' with Animation Festival

J. Lewis, I. Gonzalez Berenguer, L. Napier, K. Spence & A. Latchman

Jamaica is set to get a little more animated with the arrival of the Kingstoon Animation Festival, a strategy to position animation as one of the island’s growth areas in the hopes of stimulating the economy and job creation. The animation industry has grown to a multi-billion dollar sector internationally, and with three studios now under her belt, Jamaica is set to get fine-tooned, or at least, hop onto the animation train before it careens past us.

The Media Technology Institute, training arm of the Creative Production and Training Centre  teamed up with the festival last week to host an information session of the two-day event slated for June 20 - 21, 2013 at the UWI Mona Visitor’s Lodge, Kingston. The festival will comprise expert panel discussions, policy discussions, workshops and an animation competition.

Hosted by Chantal Hylton-Tonnes, CEO of the CPTC, the session highlighted the possibilities for growth in the animation industry in Jamaica.

Stacey Ann Wiison, Technical Advisor to MP Julian Robinson“We think and see evidence internationally that the ICT is the wave of the future,” said Stacey Ann Wilson, Technical Adviser to State Minister Julian Robinson, Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, explaining that animation has is being targeted because it has shown the most consistent growth.

Of course, as animation is actually the “wave” of the present, not the future. In her brief statement, Jeanette Lewis, Public Relations Manager of Flow, pointed to the cumulative power of channels featuring largely animated content, which enjoy over 20 million views per month. Lewis explained that five of their 25 top channels including Nickelodeon (8M), Disney (5.6M) and Cartoon Network  (5.1M) are in this list.

“It’s perfect for our economy because we have a lot of people who are unemployed who could be employed in this sector,” Ms. Wilson said. She pointed to the potential area coming online with the tablet pilot project being steered by the e-Learning project.

"It's not just PDFs on a tablet,” she said. “What we need is animated content.” Ms. Wilson also noted that the ministry would prefer to have locally produced content.
Alison Latchman of Alcyone creators of Cabbie Chronicles
Alison Latchman head of Alcyone animation studios, creators of Cabbie Chronicles, highlighted that animation is about more than animators. She pointed out that she is not an animator, but rather a writer and performer.

“Without a story, there's nothing to animate,” she said. “So I don't want to send out the message that it's just about the animators."

“Cabby Chronicles came about out of an idea to speak about Jamaica and what we are about rather than having other people speak on our behalf," Ms. Latchman. She argued that there is great opportunity for Jamaican produced animated content globally, as “Jamaica is in style”.

Kingstoon festival coordinator Ivan Gonzalez Berenguer highlighted the features of the festival and explained the reason the government of Jamaica and the World Bank are pursuing its implementation.

Gonzalez Berenger pointed out that the festival is trying to bridge the production gap that has been noted in the industry, and help create a critical mass of in order for animation to grow.

Kingstoon logo“The industry is labour intensive, which then has great employment potential,” Gonzalez Berenger  said explaining the World Bank and the government's interest in stimulating the industry.
Registration of the workshops and panel discussions opens on Monday, June 10 at 9:00 am. The festival will include representatives from Toon Boon, Mattel, The Shadow, Sheridan College, Skyres, and Columbus College of Arts and Design.

Registration for the competition portion has already opened and closes on June 16, 2013. The competition portion of the festival takes place on June 21 and features four categories: Best Storyboard or Script, Best Character Design, Best Experimental/ Abstract Animation, and Best Final Animation Product. The final category is open to entries from across the Caribbean.  

The roster of prizes include scholarships, internships, hardware, and software licenses.

"Kingstoon is just an event,” Gonzalez Berenger said. “But we don't want it to be just an event. We want it to be a beginning."