Young Animator Dreams Of Making It Big

Photo: R Hutchinson Animator, JoWayne McFarlane, reads a promotional poster for the 2016 KingstOOn Animation Festival during a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’. JoWayne, who placed second at the inaugural staging of the festival in 2013, is a finalist at this year’s event, slated for March 12 to 13 at the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston.

Story Highlights

  • Like many Jamaican children, watching cartoons on a Saturday morning was a staple for JoWayne McFarlane.
  • It was this early love for and fascination with caricatures captured in the cartoon art of Walt Disney, Hanna-Barbera, among 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.

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

It was this early love for and fascination with caricatures captured in the cartoon art of Walt Disney, Hanna-Barbera, among 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 recognised as made in the Caribbean,” JoWayne says.

JoWayne, who provides entrepreneurial services for 2-D digital works, designs and 2-D traditional animations, tells JIS News that she is largely self-taught.

“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,” she says.

“I pursued this on my own, and started practicing 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,” she points out.

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

Her work, called Raising Jase, was about a Jamaican boy with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and focuses 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,” JoWayne 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 informs.

She notes that the experience was “amazing and enlightening,” and she learnt 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, JoWayne 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.

JoWayne 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, JoWayne is looking forward to the year’s 2nd staging of the KingstOOn Animation Festival scheduled to be held from March 12-13 at the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts.

She says she is very pleased at the structure of KingstOOn 2016, and the fact that the festival is now making a special plea for content featuring afro-descendants.

JoWayne, who also does freelance work with local animation studios, says that while Jamaica is a bit behind in the industry there is a lot of untapped potential here and the country is on the right track.

She notes too that the industry is still very young and believes that it is a very viable career option for young people.

JoWayne tells JIS News that she is appreciative of all opportunities afforded her to date in the development of her career in animation.

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.’

“I met him (Carnegie) through the Anime (festival) network group, and he offered to mentor the ‘Strictly Toons’ animation group that I am a member of,” she explains.

Strictly Toons focuses on 2-D art and illustration. JoWayne says the group’s online presence allows her to network and find persons with similar interests across the world.

She tells JIS News that Kevin Jackson, the animator behind the ‘Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica’ campaign, “was also another great coach to me.”

In addition to her internship with Flow, she has also apprenticed at REEL ROCK GSW Studios, and has a Certificate of Achievement (Merit) in 2-D Animation using ToonBoom.

JoWayne says she also continues to volunteer “for anything to do with animation no matter how small the opportunity”.

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

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