Young animator dreams of making it big


Like many Jamaican children, watching cartoons on a Saturday morning was a staple for JoWayne McFarlane, Caribbean 360 reports.

It was this early love for and fascination with caricatures captured in the cartoon art of Walt Disney, Hanna-Barbera and others, that has inspired her to pursue a career in animation.

Her aim is to use the art form to showcase the Jamaican and wider Caribbean culture to an international audience.

“I want to be able to create original content based in the Caribbean and to put out in the world for it to be recognized as made in the Caribbean,” the largely self-taught McFarlane says.

“I began by creating flip-books where characters are drawn to gradually change from one page to the next. So, when the pages are flipped rapidly, the pictures appear to animate. I pursued this on my own, and started practising using YouTube and searching on Google for websites and online magazines. I also started networking to see if I could find anybody who had similar interests, mentors or professionals I could talk to.”

In 2013, McFarlane participated in the inaugural KingstOOn Animation Festival, where she placed second in the character design category.

Her work, Raising Jase, was about a Jamaican boy with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and focused on his struggles with his learning disability.

“My entry in the first KingstOOn was not in animation as I did not have the tools. However, I used what I had at my disposal, which was my artistic skills,” McFarlane recalls.

“I worked with what I had. I just sketched a set of characters with expressions and detailed biography and pitched it (to the judges).”

She said the experience was “amazing and enlightening,” and she learned much more about animation and the tools and programmes needed to further her development in the craft.

For placing second in the competition, JoWayne received an internship with telecommunications company Flow. With a laptop she received from Flow, along with a graphics tablet she bought, McFarlane taught herself digital animation.

She also enrolled at Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), where she did a four-month intensive animation course.

Following KingstOOn, her growing network of contacts in the animation industry proved useful, and she was recommended for the Animae Caribe Animation Festival in Trinidad and Tobago.

McFarlane participated in the festival in 2015, and was among only a few representatives from Jamaica at event. While there, she was part of a team, which placed second in a competition to develop and pitch a project to receive grant funding.

The group will be presenting the idea at the Caribbean Tales International Film Festival in Canada in September, where it is hoped that they will win first place and get funding to develop the project.

Now, McFarlane is looking forward to the year’s second staging of the KingstOOn Animation Festival scheduled for March 12-13 at the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts.

Along her journey, she has met and benefited from the expertise and advice of many notable persons, among them Derek Iversen, a writer for the popular cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants.

Other mentors are Corretta Singer, who introduced her to the Jamaica Animation Nation Network, and Visual Effects artist Wayne Carnegie, who worked on the North American 3-D animated movie ‘The Nut Job.’

The young animator says that her plan is to become a cartoonist, creating programmes similar to the ones she enjoyed as a child.

McFarlane says while Jamaica is a bit behind in the industry, there is a lot of untapped potential and the country is on the right track. And she believes there are viable career opportunities for young people in this area.

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