last weekend, at the Kingstoon ani-mation festival in Ja-maica, Bim and Bam won first place in the Concept category and second place in the pitch competition from a judging panel that included an offi-cial from the popular American cable sta-tion, Cartoon Net-work. KingstooN, the Caribbean’s largest conference on ani-mation, was held on March 12 and 13 at the University of the West indies, Mona campus.Alkins, during a telephone interview, said she was “really surprised” with the win.“(it is) excellent val-idation. Nice to have something saying (officially) that your concept is a good one,” she noted.Bim and Bam, a series about six-year-old twins having ad-ventures across the Caribbean, was one of four finalists at the festival. the other three were Tails of Shad-ows (Jamaica), Quan-tum Gear (Jamaica) and Lil Island Kidz (a mixed-Caribbean team based in tampa, Florida).Alkins noted that prior to the festival the animators partic-ipated in boot camps at the Caribbean in-stitute of Media and Communication (Carimac), sessions on different topics and training on how to pitch your concept. the boot camp coaches were Caiphus Moore (EA games, UsA), Camille sel-von-Abrahams (An-imae Caribe, trini-dad), D’oyen Wil-liams (World Bank group, Jamaica) and David soutar (Cari-mac, UWi, Mona campus, Jamaica). Alkins noted that the coaches were “pretty high up” in the indus-try and making waves overseas. the second day of sessions featured four representatives from the internation-al animation indus-try, including hern?n la greca, senior Creative Director of original production for Cartoon Net-work, Boomerang and tooncast latin America. Alkins re-called they informed the animators on what it takes for their concept to get picked up and engaged in a Q&A. on the first day of the festival there were workshops, talks on writing and mak-ing characters that will last, and training with software. At 6 pm the pitch competition was held at an amphitheatre with approximate-ly 300 in attendance and nine judges: la greca, Joel Kuwaha-ra (Bento Box, UsA), Florian Wagner (Bar-del Entertainment, Canada), Carlos Ar-guello (studio C, los Angeles, guatemala), Mike Buckland (trig-gerfish, south Africa) Antonio Morales (ink Apache, spain), Dev-on shepard (UsA) and Brad Ableson (illumination Enter-tainment, UsA).
Alkins was first up to pitch her concept, which included the financial plan and merchandising, as she had been doing in the mock sessions and she remembered thinking “might as well”. she recalled that when the pitch started with the trailer, the pockets of students from the var-ious Caribbean countries shown clapped and cheered. When the trailer reached Jamaica at the end “the crowd went wild” and began making noise and stamping their feet.“they just really, really loved it.” she said everyone who saw the trailer said they loved it, they need to see it made and asked for the Facebook information. Alkins re-called it was “really cool” and very important to get the buy-in from each of the territories represented.“We as Caribbean people need to believe in it and want it. And our support in the region is what will get international people to notice there is a market for it. these are stories that need to be told,” she said.Bim and Bam placed second in the pitch competition, while Tails of Shadows won.the second and final day of the festival featured more ses-sions and Alkins recalled that the presenters, working in emerging industries similar to Caribbean context and it was relatable to the animators. she noted the south African stu-dio, triggerfish, has been able to break into the international mar-ket while telling African stories. “it gave you a glimmer of hope in a very first world industry,” she commented. on that day Bim and Bam was also announced as the winner of the Concept competi-tion, which had been entered in advance and Alkins had forgotten about. she pointed out that one of the criteria was that the concept be commercially viable and have po-tential to be produced. she noted with this win she can go to corpo-rate entities with a concept chosen by a World Bank officials and an animation festival.For the wins the Bim and Bam team won a trophy, certificate, equipment, software and hard-ware, a summer training pro-gramme at a university in Van-couver, Canada membership in Jamaican Animation Association, as well as the opportunity to nego-tiate a deal with a global distrib-utor.“that is really, really exciting. And very cool,” she said.Asked what is next for Bim and Bam, Alkins said she will be im-plementing the suggestions she received at the festival and ap-plying them to make the prod-uct stronger. she has also begun work on the business side of the concept and will be launching a crowd funding campaign to pro-duce a pilot.Alkins is currently focusing on building the audience base and is asking people to like the Bim and Bam Facebook page and sub-scribe to the Bim and Bam chan-nel on Youtube.