Wed | Oct 21, 2020

Young creative scores with animated video for Wailing Souls classic

Published:Friday | September 18, 2020 | 12:12 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer

Nearly two decades after it was first released, Shark Attack, a single by veteran roots reggae group Wailing Souls, has been given a makeover, in more ways than one. Not only has Sicilian reggae singer Alborosie been added to the classic 1992 track, it also sees generations collide, in a formidable and fascinating way, with the production of a new animation video by a young, Jamaican creative. The success of this project is seen as a boon for Brand Jamaica, while opening doors for youngsters in this field.

Carter Van Pelt, VP Records’ director of catalogue development, was instrumental in hiring Jenille Brown, one of the new group of Jamaican animators, to work on the Shark Attack music video. “I commissioned an animated video for the single, something I’ve wanted to do to break away from the pattern of videos that is, honestly, quite predictable,” Van Pelt shared with The Gleaner. “Her work came to my attention as part of the team that made Royal Blu’s Style and Pattern video. I see a lot of interest in the young, creative class in Jamaica, but this is an aspect that I wasn’t even aware of until I wanted an animation. I didn’t immediately think I could get the work done in Jamaica, but I was really happy to make it happen there and keep the money in that economy,” the US-based exec said.

Brown, a self-taught animator, actually spent a year at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, before leaving to really pursue her goals. “That was in 2011, before they had an animation course at Edna. I was encouraged by someone in the field, and so I went online and eventually figured out what 24 frames per second was and finally how to animate,” she said. Having secured jobs in the field, she has been doing it ever since, and is happy that there are now also courses at UTech, CARIMAC, and the Vocational Training Development Institute.

Basking in the compliments

Having enlisted the assistance of a few colleagues on the Shark Attack project, Brown is currently basking in the compliments she received for the video, which was released in July. “When Carter contacted me, he had noticed the trend in current video projects and he had seen my name on the credits of one of these projects. That’s why credits are so important,” Brown emphasised. Her instructions were to keep the original video in mind, but otherwise, she was given full creative control on the visuals.

The project officially got underway in April, when contracts were signed and funds changed hands, and that was when the otherwise confident animator and character designer experienced a few flutters. “I was really anxious doing it because it was a project that I was personally, totally responsible for,” Brown, who works full-time at a production company, said.

She describes the end product as being “solidly done”, pointing out that the hand-drawn, frame-by-frame animation made the project unique. The producers, in their notes, outline that in the original Shark Attack video, the exploiter was a “manipulative shark with a sketchy briefcase full of loot”. For the updated recording, “Alborosie crafted additional lyrics of street-level exploitation in Jamaica, and animator Jenille Brown reimagined the shark as a record producer, extending the concept into the sphere of cultural appropriation”.

A creative who is quite aware of the challenges that exist for her sector, Brown was among the animators who were featured at the C.A.G.E. (Cosplay. Animation. Gaming. Esports) exhibition last year August at the University of the Technology, Jamaica. The event, an effort to bring together the three major areas of millennial entertainment (cosplay, animation, and gaming), was organised by Anime Nerds of Jamaica and e-sports Jamaica.

This year, she is putting her energy into a small Internet event called ‘DREAM DUST’, which will double as an expo and pop-up art shop.