Can a Caribbean, animated, kids series make it to international TV screens? That’s what Jeunanne Alkins, founder of design studio Everything Slight Pepper and creator of the children’s cartoon “Bim and Bam: The Adventure Series” hopes to achieve.
Alkins is on a mission to add Caribbean culture to the global children’s entertainment line-up. The stars of the series, five-and-a-quarter-year-old twins, Bim and Bam, are on their first trip to their parents’ birthplace, the Caribbean. Who would have guessed that tiny islands could be so chock-full of big fun beyond just sea, sun or sand?
Season one kicks off at the bottom of the island archipelago with the adventurous duo Bim (the girl) and Bam (the boy) visiting Trinidad and Tobago. Being curious travellers, the twins go off the beaten path, and befriend a motley flock of birds that gets them into all sorts of precarious situations.
With the help of their avian buddies (and unbeknownst to the adults), the pair foil poachers in the country’s largest wetland, headline an open air concert under the bamboo canopies of the Chaguaramas national park, and rescue endangered leatherback turtle hatchlings from certain doom on the nesting beach of Grande Riviere. And, in the midst of it all, they become entangled in spy operations, discover spooky ghost stories, narrowly escape explosions, take part in great races, and even try their hand at chocolate making and modelling.
Targeting children, ages four to eight, “Bim and Bam” falls into the adventure, education, and travel genres. The series puts viewers right in the middle of the invigorating and fearless kid action and promises to be fun, entertaining (even for adults!) and clever: a universal story with a vibrant, colourful Caribbean feel.
The Everything Slight Pepper team has recently completed animation tests, a comprehensive concept bible and season 1’s 13 x 22minute rough scripts. Alkins is gearing up to pitch the cartoon to producers and investors at two, key, international conferences in the kids content industry – Kidscreen Summit in Florida (USA), and Banff World Media Festival (Canada).
Festivals and conferences are critical for the business development side of the project. Kidscreen Summit kicks off this February and the Bim and Bam series has already been registered, and prequalified for one-on-one pitch meetings withexecutives from Canadian production studios, Corus Entertainment and Tricon Media.
“With the growth in spending on experiential travel, diversity and edu-play content, the world is hungry for new stories and I am excited to share Caribbean culture on a global scale,” explains Alkins, who started working on the idea five years ago. “Kidscreen and Banff World Media Festival are where these discussions happen so that is where I need to be. I’m raising funds to help get there, and I’m hoping corporate T&T will be keen to support. The plan is to present the series to producers, get it developed, and distributed on a international video-on-demand or TV platform.”
“I had consultations with international sales agents and film fund representatives – from US, France, Belgium, Canada, and Mexico – who were here for the T&T Film Festival,” she says. “They confirmed the potential of the project, and advised that I need to attend a buyer’s event and make it my mission to source an international producer who works in kids media or animation. This person would be the link to development, finding the right production studio and distribution deals.”
“Kids content generates big sales every year, and the size of international audiences interested in this type of entertainment content is estimated to be in excess of 500 million,” Alkins adds. “When it comes to Caribbean audiences, in the US and UK Diaspora – it’s estimated to be 11 million, and in the English-speaking Caribbean, over 5 million. With the Caribbean being a highly sought after destination for family-friendly travel, because of its exotic landscapes, food, festivals, sport, and culture, ‘Bim and Bam’ can entertain and teach global audiences about everything that makes the Caribbean archipelago special.”
Is the Bim and Bam series worth the investment? Trinidad and Tobago’s business community has already started acknowledging. First Citizens and MASSY Foundation being the first two corporate entities to lend support for the project. Jeunanne Alkins is an American Chamber of Commerce incubatee, past Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist, and winner of the Idea 2 Innovation grant – twice – from the Ministry of Planning and Development.
Support from sponsors can only help drive what the Everything Slight Pepper brand has been achieving in producing quality, Caribbean content for children everywhere.