Imagine Jamaica ten years from now with its own animation studio as successful and influential as Walt Disney. Well, two brothers, twins actually, are hoping to achieve this.
Meet Andre and Akeem Roberts, self-taught animators with a short film, The Harvester, in the works. Going by the brand name Toon Twinz, they hope to finish the project in time for the staging of Kingstoon Animation Festival in December.
“We would love to premiere it at the festival; it’s our first time entering,” Akeem told the Jamaica Observer. “Even though it’s premiering as a short film, we intend to spread it out as a series lasting about five minutes per episode on YouTubeafterwards,” he continued.
The Harvester is a drama/action production which follows protagonist Evangel Brimhorth, the firstborn son of the Grim Reaper. It was inspired by a similar series Vampire Diaries, and Teen Wolf. Both brothers contributed to the script and illustrations.
“Evangel is half-human, half-supernatural and fled the underworld to come on Earth and have a normal life, but his old life comes back to haunt him,” Akeem said. “TheHarvester will be filled with a lot of supernatural creatures and Jamaican folklore features, like the rolling calf.”
He said maintaining a cultural aspect in their work is important.
“It’s more authentic that way and people will be in tuned to the story line because it is close to home,” he said. “We have high expectations to be well received among people, so we will do the best that we can do and see how everyone reacts.”
According to the brothers, past work has reaped praises from the public. They started their career in animation last March and have released several short films including A Toy’s World and various ‘toons’ inspired by popular characters Pokémon, Dexter, Doug and Tom and Jerry.
“Everybody is amazed and they want to see more,” Andre said. “We are grateful that so many people enjoy what we do.”
Do they think the twin factor plays a role in this?
“We’re not exactly certain, but we would like to think it works in our favour,” Andre asserted.
The Titchfield High School graduates decided to chart a path based on passion instead of conforming to traditional careers, and said they have no regrets. The financial rewards however can pose a problem.
“It’s been challenging, but we see what it can become and we have that international appeal as well so we won’t give up,” Akeem said.
The 21-year-olds have aspirations of developing the animation industry regionally.
“We want to make it viable in Jamaica and the Caribbean,” said Andre. “The end goal is to be like a Disney for Jamaica and the Caribbean. We want to create work that can stand up to Star Wars, Naruto, Dragon Ball Z…We want to build original work and expose our industry. We’re really excited at what the future holds for us.”
By: Sade Gardner