The first time I set foot in a classroom I was five years old. I never attended pre-school. My pre-school was the television. As was the case of many from my generation, most of my foundational learning was from Sesame Street. I learned how to count, different shapes, the alphabet even a few Spanish words. Pera is pear, and plátano banana. Pineapple is piña and apple is manzana. I reflected recently on one of Sesame Street’s more popular skits. It’s when Bert put on a Tooth Play. It began with the level headed Prairie Dawn giving her familiar piano-led introduction. It went something like this.
Today’s show was written entirely by Bert and was directed by Bert and it stars none other than our old friend Bert. If the play is just wonderful, you can thank Bert but if the play is horrible YOU HAVE NO ONE BUT BERT TO BLAME!Prairie Dawn, Sesame Street.
While hilarious on its surface, Prairie Dawn had great insight into the experience of the independent creator. What she says about Bert’s experience very closely mirrors our own.
If you’re an independent creator, many times you do everything yourself. Often it’s out of necessity because your resources are limited and you have to find creative ways to get things done. So you end up being the chief cook and bottle washer of your creations. The reality is that despite this fact it does not minimize the expectation that whatever it is you create must still be something fantastic. That is to say, people don’t care that you’re resources are limited and that you’re the only one working on it. You are still responsible for creating something up to standard. You don’t get a pass because you’re an independent creator. Now I’m not saying that you’re expected to create something that looks like it came from a large, well-resourced studio. What I am saying is that whatever you create should be something worthy of admiration. As in Bert’s case, if it’s good people will thank you. If it’s awful you will get all the blame. Because ultimately, you are an independent creator and you are responsible. As you can imagine, it’s a great responsibility. I’ll spare you the Spiderman quote.
Jumbie is our creation so it is our responsibility to create something meaningful. If Jumbie falls short, we can’t use our limited resources and independent creator status as an excuse. This leads me to my next point.
One of the big issues for any independent creator is that of financial support. I recently saw a post on Facebook by an independent creator who was bitterly complaining online that people weren’t supporting them in their business venture. They spoke from a place of what I like to call toxic entitlement. It’s as though they believed they were entitled to people’s support and that people were somehow failures as human beings for not supporting them. This may be an extreme example, and it can be argued that no one is supporting this individual because of their toxic online presence. But it’s more than that. Whether your nice or toxic, no one “OWES” you their support.
When we first came up with the idea for Jumbie, we thought it would be really cool to have our very own Trinidad and Tobago superhero based on our folklore. However, when we released the trailer we realized that it was much more than that. We realized how powerful and meaningful the project was and that we had created something that would change the landscape of animation in Trinidad and Tobago from the perspective of representation. The online responses were really moving.
It would have been very easy to fall into the trap of feeling that since the Jumbie project was so significant, people should be lining up in droves to support us. Private, corporate, government etc, etc. But we would be very wrong to do that and would fail in our responsibility as the creators. No one, I repeat, NO ONE is obligated to support us. We should not expect people to support us, and most importantly, we should not get upset, angry or bitter if people don’t support us. What are we saying? If we don’t get the support, Jumbie can’t happen and it’s the fault of the people who didn’t support us? Do you see the incorrect chain of thought? Like Bert, we would have no one but ourselves to blame if Jumbie does not happen.
We must take the awesome responsibility for Jumbie seriously and invest our time and resources to make it a reality. We can’t expect anyone else to take it seriously and invest in it if we don’t. Eventually, because we are putting in the work, the project will get in front of the right people and they will give us their support. Not because they “OWE” us or are “OBLIGATED” to support us but because they see our vision and see it as something they can get behind.
So in conclusion. We recognize and accept the responsibility that Jumbie represents and are fully committed to dedicating our time, talent and resources to make it a reality. We want to thank our real fans and those who have supported us thus far and look forward to your continued support as we move forward to make something that will bless Trinidad and Tobago and the world for generations to come. If you identify with the vision and you want to support us we have a Patreon.
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