• Feature
    Chief Technical Director in the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division, Office of the Prime Minister, Jacqueline Lynch Stewart (third right), presents the first-place award in the KingstOON Concept competition to Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of 'Listen Mi Caribbean' Kenia Mattis (second left). The presentation was made at the finals of the pitch competition held on April 7 at the University of Technology (UTech), St. Andrew. Members of the winning team share in the moment.
    Photo: Donald De La Haye

    Story Highlights

    • ‘The Adventures of Kam Kam’, a Jamaican space exploration story produced by ‘Listen Mi Caribbean’, took the coveted top prize in the Concept Pitch competition at the recently concluded KingstOOn animation film festival.
    • The five-member team was declared the winner after presenting a framework for the 52-episode pre-school animation series to the judges in a five-minute pitch at the University of Technology (UTech) on April 7.
    • Among the judges were a Sesame Street executive and a former Disney executive.

    ‘The Adventures of Kam Kam’, a Jamaican space exploration story produced by ‘Listen Mi Caribbean’, took the coveted top prize in the Concept Pitch competition at the recently concluded KingstOOn animation film festival.

    The five-member team was declared the winner after presenting a framework for the 52-episode pre-school animation series to the judges in a five-minute pitch at the University of Technology (UTech) on April 7.

    Among the judges were a Sesame Street executive and a former Disney executive.

    For their victory, the team received a cash prize of $100,000, software licence from Toon Boom, a computer and printer, and a trip to France to attend MIP Junior, which is the World’s leading children’s entertainment industry event.

    The Adventures of Kam Kam tells the tale of a spirited Jamaican girl who wants to become a space explorer.

    Listen Mi Caribbean’s Chief Executive Officer and co-founder, Kenia Mattis, who led the winning team, tells JIS News that the hero in the story was inspired by her little sister, Kamika.
    “This project was about a little girl with big dreams who wants to go to space,” she says.

    Miss Mattis tells JIS News that the team participated in an intense two-day boot camp in preparation for the finals of the competition, where they benefited from the expertise of local, regional and international animators in preparing their pitch.

    She notes that coach Raquel Benitez of Comet Entertainment gave “so many good pointers” that helped “to take the pitch to another level”.

    “With our coach, we really got a [good] perspective. She understands storytelling, as well as the animation business and how a story like this needs to scale, so she really gave us some good insight on how to tweak the idea to make it even more solid,” she explains.

    Miss Mattis tells JIS News that the competition, which attracted submissions from three Caribbean countries, was of very high quality.

    “As a region, we have really put together a great combination of quality ideas that could go global,” she points out.

    Miss Mattis says that while she was confident that her team had a “winning idea”, based on the quality of entries, she believed that “the competition could have gone in any direction”.

    She says she is proud of the outcome, noting that the team “is working at a high level, which the judges believe can take a project globally”.

    “All of the hard work has not gone in vain,” she adds.

    Miss Mattis is excited about the opportunity to attend MIP Junior and pitch the animation project.

    “The best of the best goes there, and it will be a great opportunity to meet distributors, co-producers and persons who can really help to take your work global, and get your work seen on screens across the world,” she says.

    In addition to the company winning the coveted top prize, the Listen Mi Caribbean CEO shares in the outstanding performances of members of her team, who submitted individual entries at KingstOOn.

    She highlights Gashwane Hudson, who won the Storyboard category of the Emerging Animated Content Competition with his entry ‘Spectacular Specs’ and placed second for Character Design and Concept.

    Patrick Meegle placed fourth in the Wacom Cintiq Showdown where contestants use their imagination to interpret and draw their best representation of a randomly generated three-word phrase.

    Meanwhile, she tells JIS News that Listen Mi Caribbean will now be focusing on a number of projects, including animating the popular Jamaican series ‘Lime Tree Lane’ and producing a pilot of the team’s 2016 KingstOOn entry ‘League of Maroons’, which, she notes, has received “great feedback”.

    Other ventures include collaboration with international firms, co-producing with local studios and working on the programme ‘Listen Mi News’ on CVM TV.

    Miss Mattis is encouraging persons interested in animation to “venture out now”, noting that the industry in Jamaica “is ripe with potential”.

    “I see there are real moves to set up studios, which are training persons and working with universities to ensure that when they are finished they have somewhere to go,” she points out.

    Miss Mattis notes that her organisation is helping to build the industry, and currently provides internship for students from the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) and UTech.

    She is advising students to “get good training, build your portfolio, and once you have a solid portfolio, you are able to showcase your strength, then find a good team”.

    KingstOOn was a collaborative effort between Jamaica and the World Bank aimed at stimulating the animation industry in an effort to boost youth employment.