CHARLES KONG SOO
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Look out for Big Man Dan!
Go to the Big Man Dan page on Facebook and you’ll find animated shorts and images from multi-platform entertainment company Story Play. Big Man Dan’s creator, T&T writer and content producer Kafi Kareem Farrell, told the T&T Guardian the animated series was conceived to entertain local audiences with stories that remind us of who we are.
The former Bishop Anstey student has been in the entertainment industry for ten years, gaining most of her hands on experience while working in Hollywood. Farrell who studied at Ithaca College, New York and American University in Washington, DC returned to T&T in 2014 to develop local animated content.
What is Big Dan?
Big Man Dan is based on a typical marriage where husband and wife are finding their individuality. They have their fall outs like every other married couple. They make up and they fall out again. There are moments Big Man Dan—who happens to be very short—would try to be chauvinistic but quickly learns how to bat in his crease when wife Sheila reminds him of what an alpha female she is.
“Big man Dan on the surface level is about a Caribbean/Trinidadian husband who wants to prove to his wife and the world that he is the ultimate definition of what a big man is,” said Farrell. “He tries to live up to this image spun in his mind but always falls short.”
The character of Big Man Dan is voiced by popular multimedia artist Roland “Rembunction” Yearwood. Yearwood, aka “Remy” is an also an animator who launched out in 2006 with the animated music video Roti and Kuchela.
Singer and actress Mandisa Granderson joins Yearwood as Dan’s sophisticated, appealing and confident wife, Sheila.
Farrell said choosing Yearwood was a no-brainer, “Producers know the importance of packaging content. Remy was the right talent for the project but also the right branding for the project. And Rembunction’s brand is one that we felt fit really closely to what we were doing with Big Man Dan.
“He has a history in animation, he is a fantastic and dynamic comedian and so it was a natural fit in that this is somebody in the industry who loves animation, respects it and who wants to tell stories through cartoons, which is what we want to do.”
Even though it is Mandisa Granderson’s first animated project, she was also a good fit with her background of theatre, live acting and singing. “What impresses me about Mandisa’s career so far is that she is a really strong vocal talent and when you’re looking for voice actors, you really want someone who can take direction in terms of vocal notes and be able to control their voice, which might not be the skill set every actor has oppose to an actor who sings as well.”
The 32-year-old who began content development in 2007 when she secured her first gig with PBS, has mostly been working in online video, subsequently getting involved in screen writing in 2011.
She told the T&T Guardian she was able to pull off the project using crowd funding.
“We ran a week-long campaign in August and we just pushed hard for the week and ended up getting 65 per cent of the target funding online and we got some offline contributions as well. That money has really been helping us through to finish the last leg of the pilot.”
The Story Play team founded by Farrell turned down a broadcast license deal from a regional cable provider in 2017.
“From a content producer’s perspective, it gives a much better opportunity for us to figure out how monetary gain can be made from the series as opposed to signing a contract with someone who we will be obligated to give over the series to, for compensation that does not really cover what the series is worth.”
She believes there is still a way to go in making the local industry a viable and sustainable one for content developers.
Farrell said Story Play is looking at expansion. “We will be looking at opportunities to expand and put out more products and get to market in a way that establishes our brand.”
Asked how Story Play intended to help develop the local content market, Farrell said: “Anything we can do or encourage to create a platform for content creatives looking to reach audiences, we are definitely open to, because we know the industry is too small to try to do anything alone.
“The only way we are going to grow is by finding people who want to do the same thing we do, which is to make money from telling stories. So if we find those other crazy people who want to make this their career then we can begin going places. We invite any and all collaborations from various ends of the industry.”
The official launch of Big Man Dan will take place later this month with the pilot episode.
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