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Full Circle AnimationBorderless business in T
Jason Lindsay, co-owner of Full Circle Animation studio, studied economics and is a development finance expert who spent years working on developing new businesses in this country’s diversification drive.
An artist, he was not.
Animator? Not so much.
However, when animator and head of the University of T&T animation programme Camille Selvon-Abrahams broached the topic of partnering with her for an animation company, it didn’t take him long to make an affirmative decision.
“I don’t have a background in animation,” Lindsay said in an interview last week.
“I spent the past five years getting a practical doctorate, learning everything hands on and as we progressed.”
In 2012, Lindsay worked at Eteck as the vice president in charge of development projects.
Selvon-Abrahams had started Full Circle Productions years before but with her schedule lecturing at UTT, she needed a partner.
When the two partnered, Full Circle Productions, became Full Circle Animation Studios.
Lindsay left his job at Eteck.
“I knew early on that the focus of the company needed to be on export oriented animation.” Lindsay said.
“The local market for animation on its own could not sustain the business.
“When we started in 2013 our work was mostly advertising agencies and we had no export income. Last year we crossed the 50 per cent mark for income from export bookings.”
This means Full Circle Animation is a net earner of foreign exchange, an accomplishment for any business operating in T&T.
“It’s been a very difficult five years but we have also accomplished a lot.”
Lindsay said that his team of animators have, in the past five years, worked on productions with Disney, Nickelodeon, Dreamworks TV, Amazon and Netflix and, in the region, is the first studio to be part of the animation production pipeline for content broadcasted on most of those platforms.
This has seen them do work in Canada, India, the Far East, Malaysia, the UK, Italy, the US and Holland without ever having to leave T&T’s shores.
The studio also works with local and regional NGOs and have recently completed work on a series for Caricom.
“Our focus has been pushing the export.”
Pushing the export in the digital world, Lindsay says, has less challenges than if the company tried to export a product.
“There is a lot of work in animation and in all the world there are not enough animators to do the work that is available. As video on demand platforms like Amazon and Netflix continue to expand, the demand for content, inclusive of animated content increases,” Lindsay said.
“In some ways it is easier for us. We don’t have to go to Canada to produce for Canada. It is all a digital pipeline. With respect to the diversification drive, being a small island can limit actual physical products in a way it cannot limit the digital opportunities. The travel issues don’t apply and many physical products have other issues in terms of export that we don’t share.”
Lindsay said in the digital world it was almost strange to think in terms of imports or exports, since everybody worked in one global space.
“We experience some of the traditional issues of a regular business but there are less restrictions. What’s good for this generation is that they are born digital so that’s all they know. And in terms of big studios, they don’t want animators who are better or more creative, they want us to be capable, reliable and consistent.”
On the global scale, Lindsay said T&T does not have a reputation for producing animators.
“There aren’t a lot of animation studios locally, but there are a lot of smaller companies that can pull together teams. At Full Circle we have 11 animators who specialise in different things and we use other local animators, both local and from South and Central America on bigger projects.
There are probably more animators in one studio in India than in all of the Caribbean.”
Lindsay said the labour pool makes it difficult for the country and his studio to attract more work.
“We had to turn back work in the earlier days.”
Despite the relatively small labour pool, Lindsay said the field was very attractive to young people.
This is evidenced by his staff, made of mostly former UTT students between 20 and 25.