Peni Cameron: Reviving for Animation Industry

PERSEVREING, tough and relentless aptly describe Peni Cameron, the founder of PT Citra Andra Media (CAM). With her relentless efforts, Peni, who was born in Surabaya in 1966, has struggled to develop the animated film industry in Indonesia. To her, the industry has vast potential and can play a major role in building the nation’s character.

“Through animated film we can build the characters of the children watching, because animation always has elements of struggle, friendship, victory and loss and many other aspects that are important for the development of positive traits from an early age,” said Peni.

She also said that animated films can expand one’s imagination, as through such films one is free to express one’s thoughts, for example mock or tease others or the government without offending.

Unfortunately, the local animated film industry is in the hands of multinational players, who actually depict characters or values that are not relevant to Indonesians. She said that potential lies not only in animated film, but also in the merchandising of products.

“Apart from royalties, merchandising is a large income. Just imagine if the merchandise of local animated films was available at every mall or even in foreign countries, such as bags, watches, toys, books and so forth,” she said.

Based on this reasoning, Peni along with her 12 colleagues, who have the same interest in animated films, formed the Indonesian Animated and Content Industry (AIAKI) in 2004. However, due to a lack of funds, the organization could not develop properly. This failure did not deter her. With renewed spirit in 2006, Peni established CAM together with other players in the industry to produce, market and distribute animated films and products. CAM also provides training for animators.

“We want CAM to play an important role in the development of the animated film industry in Indonesia,” said Peni. CAM is now helping animators, production houses and animation learning institutions market their films and merchandise.

She said that currently, animation film has not turned into a real industry here, while in other countries it is quite a promising industry. Walt Disney, for instance, is one of the leading companies in the world. She feels confident though that quality-wise, the local work is comparable to that of foreign animators.

With unshakable confidence and conviction Peni is moving forward with her work and will never give up when it comes to reviving the animation industry in the country. Her predecessors’ failures do not seem to scare her. In fact the failures are lessons for improvement in her efforts.

Through CAM, Peni is orga-nizing a road show in 12 cities. The introduction covers schools, corporations as well as the Research and Technology Ministry. CAM has also introduced animation as a subject at a number of high schools, such as SMK 5 Yogyakarta, SMK 14 Bandung and SMK Malang.

The marketing function of CAM is conducted through Animart, which takes care of production and sales. Prior to airing, at least 52 episodes of each title are made. The grand mission of Animart is to look out for the welfare of animation studios in the country.

CAM also has other activities, such as Indonesia Creative Idol (ICI) and the CAM Awards. ICI, said Peni, which started last year, aims to develop public creativity through nine awards for the creative animated film industry: digital music, digital comic, animation, music performance, dance performance, fashion, craft, applied science and game, all of which should have local content.

The results of the competition are registered for royalties in the name of the creator. A CAM Award is also given to commendable animated public service films. The theme of the film can be varied, for example about discipline, anti-corruption, the environment, etc.

Through such films, CAM wants the creative animation community to make educational animation films that are easy to understand so that they can become popular among adults and children. In short, she said, the CAM Awards are intended to form the nation’s character.

Peni, who is an architecture graduate of the Indonesian Institute of Technology, Serpong, dreams of the day that CAM Awards are presented regularly every year here, and even of it becoming an international event.

Although she admitted that she was not completely satisfied, her untiring efforts have been fruitful. The past two years have seen fast growth in the local animated film industry, which is indicated by the large number of competition participants, schools and courses specializing in animation. She said that if the industry were more structured the progress would be faster.

“To date, many are working in a slap-dash way, because one is an animator during the project only and after the job is finished he or she moves on to another job in another profession while waiting for animation orders from the government or private companies,” she commented.

However, Peni, who also established PT Adianimas Cipta in 1996, understands the situation, because production costs are quite high and there are very few investors interested in this sector. Things are made worse by the fact that banks are not interested as they do not see the prospects.

Currently, CAM is working with 30 local TV stations to distribute animated films. Peni said she works with local TV stations for revenue reasons. “If we target national TV stations, which are few in number, they will not buy films that have been aired by other national TV stations,” she explained.

Some of the animated films marketed by CAM through local TV stations are Kuci, Lihat Animasiku (Watch my Animation) and Catatan Dian (Dian’s Notes). “Our target is for at least one animated film to be aired by a local TV station,” said the mother of three. To reach the yearly target, CAM has to make available 32 series. Each series consists of 13 episodes, while each episode runs for 24 minutes.

Peni is optimistic about the future of the domestic animated film industry. However, she wants support from other parties, including the government and other industries and businesses.

“We need their trust and support more than their funds,” she emphasized. She also said that once local businesses used local animated characters in their commercials or packaging, only then would the domestic animated industry flourish. “Rather than using costly Disney characters they should turn to local characters,” she said. (T. Hidayat)

The Jakarta Post, May 13, 2009

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