Christopher Guinness is an animator and director from Trinidad and Tobago. Graduating from Sheridan College in Ontario, Canada, he is a multi-award winner in the advertising and animation circuit and a former President of the Caribbean chapter of the American Advertising. Having worked as an Art Director at McCann Erickson Port of Spain and Lonsdale Saatchi & Saatchi, Christopher now operates a design, film and animation agency, Bepperton.
His work has won over 70 awards including two Animae Caribe Awards, the Advertising Agencies Association of Trinidad and Tobago Campaign of the Year Award, Caribbean Advertising Federation Best of Show TV, Print and Overall Award, Ads of the World Best from Emerging Market, Adobe Cut and Paste People’s Choice Award and three American Advertising Federation US National ADDY® Awards.
Recently his short film, Pothound was selected as a finalist at the 2012 Vimeo Awards.
- Tell us about your studies in Trinidad and Canada that led to your career choices.
My interests in visual mediums have always seemed to direct my educational choices. Art class was one of the few I showed up for in secondary school. Otherwise, I was notorious for being absent and always in some arcade throwing Hadoukens. So I pursued studies that complimented that artistic expression in college, which was truly a joy. An expensive joy but the experience was wonderful - the people, the mentors, the creative energy. Advertising and filmmaking both rely on similar principles, getting the story across in an engaging manner.
- Tell us about your work as an animator, art director and filmmaker.
The majority of my work has been corporate. The art director/ad-man projects pay the bills. The filmmaking stuff is a recent development, a throwback to earlier days. I’m only now getting to the fun stuff, doing work that speaks from my conscience.
- How was Bepperton Entertainment Productions realised?
My wife and I decided to form a company! LOL. No epic story behind it.
- Growing up in San Fernando, I immediately identified with the connection to the ocean in your films. What other aspects of your childhood in Trinidad inspired your artistic creativity?
The natural curiosity I hope never dies at the hands of complacency; that insatiable yearning to know why, when, where, how. And well, like most kids, media - the endless stream of cartoons, comic books and novels. Also, my family - the contrast of their personalities; my grand father was a strong silent gentleman, my father a cussing loud mouth with a chip on his shoulder, my mother a hypochondriac. Real characters. Lastly, experiencing the diversity of a Trinbago culture. I’ve been jarayed, baptised, attended a Muslim school, and lived on a Carnival route since a baby. The sum of my experiences shows in my work.
- Tell us about your learning process, and particularly how your work evolved as a result of it.
I learn from doing. Usually, I pick a project first and research how to get the technical stuff done along the way. I get stuck all the time in the process, sometimes in the heat of the moment, but improvising usually saves the day. College was kind of the same thing - more discovery than instruction.
- What are the underlying themes and messages in your films, and why are they important to you?
Oh man, so many - from overcoming adversity, redemption, good conquering evil, taking responsibility, but most importantly, to love. To practice love, that kind of encompasses everything good.
- Bubbercin is every bit the star in her titular role as ‘Pothound’. Who owns her, and what were the challenges involved in filming her?
She belongs to Leizelle, my wife. She handled Bubbercin on Pothound. She’s a really smart dog and somehow comprehends what needs to be done. The biggest challenge though was getting the shots before she got bored! Yes, this dog gets bored, so we have two or three chances to get whatever, then she’s like, “I’m bored, what’s next?”
- “Never work with animals or children” is the stern advice of the American comedian W.C. Fields. You have valiantly ignored his advice and produced superbly heart-warming and inspirational results. What is your secret?
Ha! Yeah, I’m well aware of that piece of advice. I like kids and animals though, so I was like, “Fuck it, the worse that can happen is failure.” My pig headed ways don’t always work out, but on these occasions they did. Kids are harder to work with than animals though. You have to be patient, and be really good at bribing.
- You’ve won many prestigious awards. Tell us about them.
The three National ADDYs were pretty special, still unprecedented in the Caribbean at that tier. Also, the Adobe Cut and Paste Award, and the Finalist selection at Vimeo.
But BS elitist classifications aside… they’re nice call cards for more work. They open doors - little testaments for new clients and investors to put their trust in you. Besides that, just another ornament on the shelf that gets dusty.
- What advice would you give to anyone considering a creative career?
Go for it. Things fall into place. Be sure to experience stuff. Whether it is through travel or just on your computer or at the library with a book. Transport your brain to a place where it can learn and grow. Creativity is the sum of your knowledge and technical skill moulded into something unique.
- Who, do you imagine, would be your ideal client?
Someone who actually knows what she wants and pays on time, without reminders, threats or lawsuits!
- Who is your biggest fan?
My wife first and foremost, she supports all my little ideas. And Brunty, a dog that took an entire year to get off the street. She was the untrusting type. When I finally got her, I couldn’t leave a room without her following. She was my shadow. Very attached, very loving. She died though.
- What aspirations, or reservations, do you have regarding the continuing application of your creativity to film and television?
Just to continue doing work I’m proud of. I’ll strive to do bigger stories and larger formats.
- Tell us a little about any good artistic work you’ve seen recently.
Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park. Just wonderful!
- What other interests do you have?
Guy stuff I suppose - football, combat sports, and video games.
- Where can we find you and your work?
You can check our website at Bepperton.com and I can be reached at email@example.com, thanks Wayne.