InvesTT backs local animation film Noka Wheel

InvesTT backs local animation film Noka Wheel

Jason Lindsay, managing director, Full Circle Animation Studio. Photo: Shirley Bahadur

Jason Lindsay, managing director, Full Circle Animation Studio. Photo: Shirley Bahadur

Jason Lindsay, managing director, Full Circle Animation Studio, said the animation film the company is working on is an example of how the Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) has helped local businesses.

Full Circle Animation Studio took part in CIF 2012 and is now producing a 25-minute animation film with help of a Trinidad-born Los Angeles producer.

Noka Wheel is the title of the creature live and animation film being developed and it will be directed by Los Angeles-based Trinidadian Shaun Escayg of the Shaun Escayg Film Company, which will also use local and American actors and animators.

Lindsay said some of Escayg’s credits include such Hollywood animation films as Transformers and Dark Side of the Moon.

“I am the evidence of this investment forum. I benefitted from some of the relationships that came out of that. It has been an effective platform for local businesses looking to innovate and develop their business models and to have that opportunity to access investment opportunities.”

He spoke at the May 7 launch of CIF at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad hotel, Port-of-Spain.

Lindsay, who participated in CIF 2012, showed excerpts from Noka Wheel at the CIF launch and used the Harry Potter series as a reference for the kind of animation film being developed.

“We have understood the model and understood what investors want and what markets to access and how we can link to those markets and then adapt our story accordingly,” he said.

Lindsay described the content of Noka Wheel.

“This story is a simple tag line and is based on the relationship between a mother and her son. The son has schizophrenia and the challenges they face as they follow a journey. It is something very global. It is live action, what we call in animation, photo real with creature animation, something like Harry Potter. It also involved our folklore,” he said.

Lindsay said the animation characters, although based on T&T folklore, like a soucouyant, will be modified for a Hollywood audience.

“We incorporated traditional folklore characters and brought it to life in a cinematic approach. A lot of the pre-production has already been done in Los Angeles, and the shooting will be done in T&T in July. It is a blend of local and Hollywood actors. Those animators will be coming to T&T to do the play tracking.”

Lindsay said it is important the local and Caribbean diaspora see the film, but the overall objective is to target a global audience.

“This is for a global audience and yet, at the same time, tell our stories and develop our intellectual property. The challenge with engaging the diaspora is that sometimes they do not believe there is that environment to sustain them here. So we have to find new ways to engage them and Noka Wheel is one of those projects. This project became a reality through the efforts of InvestTT and other stakeholders as we came together to support a Hollywood-type cinematic project for our intellectual property.”

Lindsay said he’s hoping the film will be developed into a full-length feature film.

“The reason for the 25 minutes is to get into the international film festivals,” he said.

The film has a budget of $1.2 million and is being made with private equity and InvesTT sponsorship.

“The benefits for the industry are income and employment and knowledge from working with these guys as we have Skype calls every week and capacity building,” he said.

Full Circle Animation Studio was established in 2006 and is a design studio focusing on animation, outsourcing in 2D Animation and 3D effects. The studio currently employs ten persons full time and up to 20 on a project basis.

The company also specialises in real flow technology, new media production and training.

This animation film comes on the heels of other films, both locally and internationally produced being shot in T&T.

These include the Canadian-produced film, Home Again, which was shot in T&T and used local actors, and A Hero For Time, based on the life of a Trinidad-born World War II veteran Ulric Cross.

Seeking out markets

Lindsay said trade and investment shows like the CIF are important in helping local businesses and industry to understand how to look for markets and, when they find them, how to operate in them.

“In many ways, the creative industry has been a challenge locally because some of these business plans are not always aligned to the expectations of investors and financiers. Animation is an export-oriented industry and there is just not enough local consumption to sustain it,” Lindsay said. “The regional base is the very minimum as the animation industry needs to engage and realise profit and access sustainable markets. There is also the diaspora.”

Through past TIC shows, Lindsay said the studio made partnerships with foreign investors in this sector.

“Through the support of InvesTT, we have made significant connections to animation investors in India, Canada and the United States. InvesTT has also supported, through this forum, capacity building for local studio resources as we have had the opportunities to interface with global leaders and diaspora expertise in the industry and maintain a long-term mentorship with them.

“As a follow up from CIF 2012, InvesTT also visited major production studios in Los Angeles and has given us considerable insight into the approach to access these markets,” Lindsay said.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

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