A CAKLE and a show - Donovan Watkis plans integrated entertainment format
Donovan Watkis has organised an event for tonight at Usain Bolt's Tracks and Records in The Marketplace, Constant Spring Road, St Andrew, as he reflects on his past and thinks about the future he intends to chart.
Standing by itself, the show's name, CIA, immediately raises notions of intrigue and
danger, covert operations and grave expressions. However, Watkis is not using the well-known acronym in its accustomed role of representing the USA's Central Intelligence Agency, but to stand for his comedy show - Celebrity, Improv Animation, which is supported by telecommunications firm LIME.
As a talent manager, he handles celebrities as well as those heading to fame. The improvisation, in which a group of actors will depict a story the celebrity tells, goes back to Watkis' training at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA). And for the animation, he will show sections of CAKLE (Cartoon Animation Komedy Laughter Entertainment), a direction in which he intends to take both his longstanding film involvement, but also comedy in general.
Tonight's guests is singer D-Major. Dufton Shepherd and Leighton Smith are the comedians, Iceman will host and ZJ Liquid will play music for the five-week CIA series.
Watkis' track record in film served him very well recently when Junior, the first film he did close to a decade ago, landed multiple awards in the Northern Caribbean University's (NCU) Lignum Vitae Film Festival. It took Best Actor for Watkis' lead role, Best Cinematography, Best Short Film and Best Overall Post-Production. Produced by Michael Reynolds, Watkis said he got the role when Calvin Mitchell urged him to audition.
"It is a short film done in Jamaica with an all-Jamaican crew," Watkis said of the 15-minute film. "Recently, I acquired the rights to the film ... . I thought getting back into filmmaking I would acquire the rights to everything I had done," he added, noting Reynolds' generosity.
Although Junior was done in 2005, it had not been shown in Jamaica before the Lignum Vitae screening.
However, another aspect to his film involvement is all new. Watkis was already doing the CAKLE series (featuring Iceman's voice and excerpts of which will be shown during CIA), and in response to a call by JAMPRO, pitched a film version for inclusion in the organisation's upcoming film festival.
Watkis' vision for CAKLE is to "produce the first 3D animation movie out of Jamaica". He is enthused by the response he received after being included in a trip to Los Angeles, California, organised by JAMPRO ahead of the festival.
"We accessed Hollywood," Watkis said. "The feedback we got for our animation and the film festival was encouraging."
He met Nam Mokwuneye and was introduced to the Public Vine digital distribution outlet, "where you go straight to the market without the middle man".
Still, CAKLE is not the only movie Watkis intends to plug. He plans to also develop the CIA series into a film, presenting comedy in a different way than the accustomed stand-up.
"We want comedy to look young and rock star," Watkis said.
He noted that making a film does not require a lot of resources and "you can do it in a weekend. If we use the talent we have and resources and start putting out films, we can make an industry ... I want to be a part of that".