Local animators get HBO contract

Full Circle Animation Studio News Featured Local animators get HBO contract

Full Circle Animation Studios, a Trincity-based design studio, is making waves internationally.

Just recently, the company completed work on Season Three of the popular HBO animated series—Animals—which features guest appearances by celebrity actors and performers RuPaul Charles, Usher, Aziz Ansari, Wanda Sykes and Raven-Symone.

The series is an American animated comedy created by Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano.

The first two episodes were independently produced and presented at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2015.
In May 2015, HBO picked the series up with a two-season order, which premiered on February 5, 2016.
The series was renewed for a third season on May 19th, 2017.

Full Circle’s managing director Jason Lindsay told Express Business last week that in November last year, the company was contracted by Big Jump Entertainment in Ottawa, Canada to produce the animation for the HBO series, which premieres on August 3 2018.

He described the partnership as a major accomplishment, not only for Full Circle but for the local animation industry.
This is the first time that an animation studio from Trinidad and or the Caribbean has been contracted by an international studio for a full season of a TV show on a major network he noted.

He said the contract with Big Jump will open doors for Full Circle, given that Big Jump is one of the main production studios in Canada.“It’s a company we had always admired and looked forward to working with. I believe that post-airing, we will get a lot of visibility and we will be able to add to our showreel. It will not doubt create other opportunities outside of that relationship.”

(A showreel is a short piece of video or film footage showcasing an actor or presenter’s previous work.)

Focussing on foreign markets

Lindsay’s field of study is economics.In 2013, he partnered with Camille Selvon-Abrahams –head of the University of Trinidad and Tobago’s Animation Department–to incorporate Full Circle Animation Studios.
Selvon-Abrahams, chief executive officer of Full Circle, founded the company in 2002.It was previously known as Full Circle Productions.

Lindsay said that the company’s initial focus was on producing animation and animated content for local advertising and content producers.

“Since 2013, we expanded into outsourced animation production from bigger studios abroada and that’s typically for animated TV shows, web series, and in one case a feature film. We also, in more recent years, started developing our own content, our own stories to market,” he stated.

He said over the last three years, more than half the company’s income was from foreign clients.

“Coming into 2018, almost all of it was from foreign clients. We are now starting to get a little more local work,” he said.

Full Circle’s team of 12 comprises 2D and 3D animators, compositors and illustrators.

Tough Industry

Asked to describe the local animation industry, Lindsay noted that it was “tough”.

He said the industry was currently unsustainable, primarily because the main opportunity for earning income is in advertising.

“Of course, as an economy struggles, budgets get cut back, marketing gets cut back and video (advertising) goes first,” he said.

“Also, because of the complexity of broadcast, with the cable TV and with the lack of local content, it is also tough for content producers to produce animated content. Locally, it is not sustainable. The best opportunity may be regional, but that is also very tough because the markets are so different – Jamaica wants Jamaican content, Barbados wants Barbadian content,” Lindsay stressed.

He said had it not been for foreign clientele, Full Circle would not have been able to keep its doors open.

But he pointed out that reaching foreign markets was no walk in the park.

“It was very challenging getting work out of T&T,” he said.

He explained: “ There is good and bad. The good is that unlike film, which needs the entire film crew on the set where you’re shooting animation is like the complete opposite. After the project is conceptualised, everybody goes back to their work stations and produces. That makes it easy to do work outside, like we’ve done in the past for producers from Spain, Italy, France, the UK, the Far East and the US.”

“The challenging side is that the digital work space does not afford things like trust going in, confidence with who you are work with or the assurances you would have when you walk into somebody’s office. So we had to invest a lot in jumping on planes, meeting with studios, building our showreel. It took a lot of effort to get to the point where we had a showreel that was not just good in terms of quality but good in terms of reputation.”

Over the last few years, Full Circle has produced work for DreamworksTV (an online station), Disney, Universal Studios, Nickelodeon and most recently, HBO Productions.