Sunday, 1 September 2013

Interview with Christopher Guinness

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. How was Bepperton Entertainment Productions realised?
My wife and I decided to form a company! LOL. No epic story behind it.

Captain T&T

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.


  1. 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?”

  1. “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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Tell us a little about any good artistic work you’ve seen recently.
Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park. Just wonderful!

  1. What other interests do you have? 
Guy stuff I suppose - football, combat sports, and video games.

  1. Where can we find you and your work?

You can check our website at and I can be reached at, thanks Wayne.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Interview with Dr. Camille Wardrop Alleyne

Dr. Camille Wardrop Alleyne currently serves as the Assistant Program Scientist for the International Space Station (ISS), a science laboratory in space.  She is resident at NASA- Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas.  There she is responsible for managing the communication strategy for ISS Research and Technology that conveys the benefits of ISS scientific research to stakeholders, the public and potential users.  She also leads the integration of all international education programs across the ISS Partners (US, Japan, Russia, Europe and Canada).  Prior to this, Dr. Alleyne has held several positions at NASA, most recently as the Orion Crew Module Systems, Integration and Test Technical Manager at Johnson Space Center, the Systems Engineering and Integration Lead for Constellation Systems Requirements at NASA Headquarters and as a Flight Systems Test Engineer at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She has also held positions as an Aerospace Systems Engineer at the Missile Defense Agency and the Department of Defense, where she led analysis and integration of several ballistic missile defense projects.  

Dr. Alleyne holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University in Washington DC.  She also holds a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, FL, a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Houston. 

Ms. Alleyne is a licensed Private Pilot whose accomplishments include being a Finalist in the 2004 Astronaut Selection Program.  She is the Founder of the Brightest Stars Foundation, a non-governmental organization dedicated to educating, empowering and inspiring young women around the world to be future leaders through the study of science, math and technology. She has received numerous awards and commendations both from NASA and other national and international organizations.  She has been honored as a Caribbean Woman Icon in Science and Technology by the National Institute for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology in Trinidad and Tobago.  She was also honored as an Outstanding Woman in Aerospace by the National Society of Black Engineers.

  1. You were born in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. How did your life and upbringing in Trinidad equip you for your successful career in science and assist in the realisation of your achievements?

My early childhood was very instrumental in helping me to become the person I am today.  Besides an innate curiosity about the natural world around me and about space, I had parents who held deep values for education and for allowing me to nurture my gifts and talents.  My mind was very mechanical and analytical and so I gravitated towards building and fixing things around the house, which my mother encouraged.  Additionally, I attended all-girl schools in Trinidad and Tobago, which I believe played a critical role in building my self-confidence that allowed me to navigate the career path I had chosen.

ISS and Earth (Credit: NASA)

  1. During your childhood, was there a film, television show, comic or novel, which acted as a primary catalyst to your passion for science and your desire to venture into space?
My affinity for science truly was one that was innate.  Along with maths, these subjects were just things I naturally excelled in, again because I think my brain was wired to think that way.  My love for space started long before I knew what I was dreaming about, when at the ages of 6 and 7 years old I would sit on the trunk of my dad’s car and stargaze every night – wondering what was “out there”.  Two of my favourite shows growing up were The Jetsons and Star Trek, both of which seemed far-fetched at the time, but I enjoyed tremendously.

  1. You are a role model. Did you have role models of your own?

My mom was my first role model in a very subconscious way.  I say subconscious because I was too young to know what being a role model meant.  She was a very strong and independent woman who along with my dad raised their three daughters to be strong, independent and self-sufficient.  In the last 20 years or so, my other role models were people who gave their lives in love and service of humanity – Dr. Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.

US Spacewalk / 1st EVA on ISS (Credit: NASA)

  1. You were a finalist in the 2004 Astronaut Selection Program. Please tell us about this program and your desire to be an astronaut.

My desire to fly in space (the job of an astronaut) started when I was a freshman in college in 1986 when the Space shuttle Challenger accident happened.  At the time, just having moved from my home in the Caribbean, I did not know anything about NASA, the space shuttle or the career of being an astronaut – but I was hooked! I had just commenced my undergraduate studies in aeronautical engineering but the tragic event of the Challenger, opened my eyes, and instantly moved me, to switch my major to a focus on space and aerospace.  Six years later, after completing my college and graduate studies, I was driving into the gates of Kennedy Space Center to start what has been an amazing 18-year career.

The Astronaut Selection program is NASA’s process for recruiting candidates who train to be astronauts.  In the 2003-2004 selection process, I was one of 100 finalists who were selected from a pool of 4000+ applicants and who were invited to interview and undergo medical evaluation.  This was a week-long process that resulted in the selection of 12 of the 100 who undertook 2 years of training to be US astronauts.  Even though I wasn’t selected as one of the 12 candidates, going through the final selection process was one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. 

  1. Tell us about your role within the International Space Station Program.

The International Space Station (ISS) is a multidisciplinary (biology, physical sciences, human research, just to name a few) laboratory in space where we conduct scientific research and technology development in a microgravity environment.  As an Assistant Program Scientist, I am responsible for the development and implementation of the communication strategies that effectively convey the benefits of microgravity scientific research to stakeholders, the public and potential users.  I also lead the integration of all international education programs across the ISS Partners (US, Japan, Russia, Europe and Canada) that have engaged and inspired millions of students globally, in their studies of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
  1. What is an aerospace engineer?

An aerospace engineer is a person who designs, develops, integrates and tests rockets and spacecraft vehicles and their systems.

  1. What advice would you give to someone with a desire to pursue a career in engineering?

Firstly, your career choice should be something that you are passionate about.   Engineering itself is a very challenging but fulfilling career.  Engineers are trained to analyse problems, develop solutions and think critically about the world around us.  It requires determination, perseverance and tenacity to successfully complete a college engineering program, especially for women, because it is traditionally a male-dominated field.

  1. Tell us about your role as a designer.

In the design of rockets or spacecrafts there are many sub-areas or subsystems that need to be designed first and then integrated to make a whole system.  The subsystems of rockets include the structures, propulsion, navigation and controls, aerodynamics (flow of air over a structure), avionics, thermal protection (specific to spacecraft).   Each of these areas is a sub-speciality in itself.  Then there are systems engineers who are responsible for integrating each of these parts into a whole and testing the whole to ensure that it meets the requirements it was designed for. Most of my career was spent involved in the design of spacecraft systems, rocket systems and the integration and testing of both.  In the last few years however, I have moved away from engineering into leading and managing projects and programs.

  1. As a child, I expected jet packs, flying cars, sub-orbital commercial flight and moon bases to be a part of our everyday life by now; but after just 6 missions, manned lunar landings ended in 1972. Since then, we’ve seen Concorde retire in 2003 after 27 years of service; and after 30 years of service we’ve witnessed the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011. Is science fiction unreasonably optimistic with regards to human technological potential?

Sometimes it seems that our human potential lags what we coin as “science fiction” and sometimes we have surpassed science fiction in many ways.   There is nothing wrong with human beings dreaming big and using our imagination; in fact, it is a part of our nature! But there are scientific and physical realities of how our universe works that, regardless of how innovative and imaginative our thoughts are, the universal laws always dictate. Having said that, in 2013, we are on the verge of sub-orbital commercial flights for everyday people; we have smart phones in our pockets that are revolutionary- I never would have imagined 15, 20, or 25 years ago, this small device would allow me to respond to voice commands, access the internet and give me a capability to video conference with friends and family across the globe.  We have athletes with artificial limbs competing in able-bodied Olympics.  There are cars that don’t require gasoline. Finally, something that’s near and dear to my heart, and that is our Space Station in low Earth orbit built and operated by 15 countries working together to explore and further human knowledge.

  1. What does the foreseeable future of aerospace engineering and manned space exploration hold for us?

The development of a transport capability that would take humans to an asteroid by 2025 with the goal of reaching Mars by 2030. Our goal and objective is to advance space exploration capability that would allow humans to travel beyond Low Earth Orbit.

  1. What do you find most rewarding in your career?

Most rewarding about my career is being in the very unique, specialized and highly technical field of human space exploration.  Also, I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most brilliant people on the planet.

  1. What do you find most challenging, and how do you overcome it?

Most challenging is the fact that I am a woman in a very male-dominated environment and career, and one that has very, very few people of color (male or female).  One is not always given the benefit of the doubt because of those physical attributes.  But what I know for sure is that there is no substitute for excellence – it transcends ethnicity, gender, culture etc.  So striving for excellence is the way to overcome those barriers.

  1. Tell us about your involvement with the Caribbean Youth Science Forum.

The Caribbean Youth Forum is an annual educational event that hosts about 300+ Sixth Form students from all over the Caribbean.  The weeklong event hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago National Institute of Higher Education, Science and Technology, provides students with the opportunity to be exposed to various aspects of science and technology through a mix of academic, social and cultural activities.  In 2011, I was invited to participate as the keynote speaker at the event’s opening.  I was also able to organise for the students, with the assistance of the Trinidad and Tobago Amateur Radio League (TTARL) and NIHERST, their participation in one of the International Space Station education programs called Amateur Radio on ISS (ARISS).  This allowed the students to talk to astronauts on board the space station in real time, as it passed over Argentina.  This was an historic event for the region, as no Caribbean students had ever conducted this type of contact with the ISS.  Later that week, I also gave a public lecture on ISS Research and its Benefits to Humanity, to the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

  1. Rationalism versus mysticism and the intersection between science and religion is often explored in works of fiction. Do you come from a religious family background, do you have strong religious views, or do you believe that there is no place for religion in science?

I do come from a strong religious background and was raised Catholic, but I believe strongly that there is an intersection between religion and science and they are more tightly intertwined that most people are willing to admit.  I am not religious even though I am deeply spiritual (there is a distinction) and am extremely open-minded and consistently in an “inquiry” about our place in the scope and vastness of the universe.

  1. Tell us about the Brightest Stars Foundation.

The Brightest Stars Foundation is a non-governmental organization I founded in 2007 with the mission of education, empowering and inspiring young women to be future leaders through the study of science, technology and engineering.  I travel all over the world, on behalf of my foundation, advocating for the rights of girls to have access to quality education, specifically STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).  I also spend time speaking to and inspiring youth (boys and girls) to believe in themselves and live up to their fullest potential.  A vision of my foundation however, is the establishment of Science Academies for Girls in the developing world, the first one being in Kenya.  These are residential high schools that will educate girls in highly scientific and technological fields, with the goal of educating the next generation of Nobel Laureates in Science. This project has been slow getting off the ground because of the financial commitment needed, but this year it is finally taking off and I am hopeful and determined that by 2016 we would be opening our first school.

  1. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, tell us a little about a good science fiction or fantasy book you’ve read recently.

No I do not read science fiction or fantasy.  I often read biographies of extraordinary people and books with social consciousness like “The End of Poverty” By Dr. Jeffrey Sachs.

Mt. Etna Eruption from ISS (Credit: NASA)

Eye of Hurricane Isabel from ISS (Credit: NASA)

  1. What new developments, in the world of science fact, excite you?

In the world of science, what excites me is something I am exposed to on a daily basis and that is the discoveries we get from conducting scientific experiments in the microgravity environment of space.  What we don’t often realize is that gravity affects every biological, chemical and physical process that occurs on Earth.  So when we take gravity out of the equation and are able to control it via the International Space Station – a science laboratory in low earth orbit – we advance our knowledge significantly on terrestrial systems including human beings. The new discoveries such as vaccine development for Salmonella bacteria, candidate treatments for a certain type of Muscular Dystrophy, development of countermeasures for osteoporosis patients, the possibility of finding real evidence for how our universe started, the ability to take images from 400 km above the Earth that assists us in natural disaster response.  All these and more are new developments courtesy of the International Space Station and ones that excite me daily.

  1. Tell us about your other interests.

Besides space exploration, I have a passion for travelling the world and experiencing people of other cultures and traditions.  I also have a passion for dance (hip-hop and jazz) and flying planes (something I don’t get to do as often as I would like).  But as a mom to an amazing teenage girl who is an extremely gifted athlete and excellent scholar, I spend most of my time investing in her upbringing and ensuring that she has the supportive environment (like I did) that will allow her to realize her capacity for greatness.


               ISS Research and Technology

               The Brightest Stars Foundation


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Character Interview with Chi-Ro Jin

General Chi-Ro Jin is a hero of the first and second Psychic Wars. He was born on the planet Talis, the son of Space Commodore Jin Lan. He is a master of Hatari Ikou - the Way of Matchless Power, an extremely ancient martial art developed by Mara Kai fighting monks. While a sentinel in the Imperial Court of His Majesty The Emperor Sakara Rey I, he was secretly assigned the role of shamira or protector of Prince Armon of the Blood and has been a key figure in the pivotal Battle of Miru. Chi-Ro is one of the most highly-decorated veterans of the Psychic Wars, having been awarded the Star of Ra, Star of Enki, Order of the Tordon Raptor, Verlaine Star, Sentinel of the Cosmic Sea, Distinguished Aerospace Service Medal, and Commander of the Order of the Eternal Warrior.

  1. How did you first meet Wayne Gerard Trotman?
I am Chi-Ro, son of Jin. I first met Master Wayne, the writer of ‘Veterans of the Psychic Wars’ in a waking dream of my design.

  1. Did you ever expect your adventures to be written in a book?
Certainly not in a Kian book, and my recent portrayal in Talisian opera is somewhat disconcerting. However, I have dedicated my life to the service of His Majesty The Emperor Sakara Rey I; and he has entrusted me with a most important task – the safety of his only son. As shamira to the prince, it seems, my life has become of interest to others. May the scribes record it.

  1. What are your favourite scenes in Veterans of the Psychic Wars: dialogue, romance, action?
I am a warrior not an orator; and I fear that at the hour of succession, the Prince Armon may abdicate for love of his Kian consort. Romance leads to folly, and in times of war, folly leads to death. So I say to you, my favourite scenes involve action, for it is by action that we will bring the Psychic Wars to an end.

  1. Did you have difficulty convincing Wayne Gerard Trotman to write any particular scenes for you?
At times, I sensed a great struggle in the mind of Master Wayne regarding whether some characters should live or die; then there were times when he displayed wanton recklessness regarding the lives of his characters. Often, we were left to wonder who would die when the page was turned. To compound matters, I soon discovered that Master Wayne is also exceptionally stubborn – I suspect he may be Talisian. But, with considerable effort, I was able to influence a few of his decisions.

  1. Have you ever infiltrated Wayne Gerard Trotman’s dreams?
Verily, I am Chi-Ro son of Jin, master of Hatari Ikou, and a veteran of the Psychic Wars. Dream infiltration is but one of my skills. Have you not read the book?

  1. What do you enjoy doing when not on active duty?
I enjoy playing my Sythenian wax wood flute.

  1. Are you currently in a relationship?
No, my beloved consort is no longer in a plane of existence that is accessible to me; and I will love no other.

  1. Are you pleased with the genre you have been placed in?
Verily, military science fiction is a noble genre.

  1. What would you rewrite in Veterans of the Psychic Wars, if you could?
I would completely erase the Kian character known as Dr. Zachary Silverman. I found his frivolous attitude to be most irritating; but he is the loyal friend of Master Armon, and I must admit I gained a measure of enjoyment from sparring with him. Alas, in the end, his portrayal was particularly poignant.  So, in retrospect, perhaps I would not rewrite anything.

  1. Do you like the way your epic adventure ended?
A most satisfactory conclusion; however, I sense that the story has not ended. I expect I will be called upon to wield my sok-bou again.

  1. Would you be interested in a sequel written by Wayne Gerard Trotman?
Verily, even if it were not my sworn duty to serve the Talisian Empire, I would be most interested in the continuation of this epic. Rest assured, I have every confidence that my psychic projections will be successful. There will be a sequel. May the scribes record it.

  1. Are you happy being portrayed in digital editions or would you rather be in paperback versions only?
A veteran of the Psychic Wars cannot be limited by formats - paperback books, eBooks… All formats are suitable. In fact, I believe I would even be quite suited to that archaic form of entertainment, which Kians refer to as ‘movies’. Verily, the Kian known as Jackie Chan would be most ideal for my portrayal. Perhaps I should infiltrate his dreams…

  1. Were you able to contribute to the cover design for Veterans of the Psychic Wars?
Alas, I had been engaged in Imperial duties when the cover was conceived. You will note the conspicuous absence of my image from the book cover. Instead, Kiya Mankuria was granted that honour. It seems she has also been infiltrating Master Wayne’s dreams. I must remind him that beauty can be a deadly weapon; and this is especially true of the highly trained Kiya Mankuria.

  1. What is the lamest characteristic attributed to you by Wayne Gerard Trotman?
You dare to suggest that the son of Jin is lame? Ahhh… Your thoughts are transparent. You refer to the most displeasing characteristic. Forgive my outburst, the Kian use of language is often imprecise and years of combat have left me prone to intolerance. On occasion, Master Wayne made the most unsettling suggestion that Chi-Ro Jin is capable of panic, especially with regards to the protection of the prince. I assure you, I have engaged in the dance of death countless times. Panic, however mild, is not something I am capable of.

  1. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I suspect, by Kian standards, any well-trained veteran of the Psychic Wars would appear to be superhuman. Nevertheless, despite my attempts, the secret of astral projection continues to elude me.

Author Bio:
Wayne Gerard Trotman is a British writer, filmmaker, artist, photographer, composer and producer of electronic music. Born in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Trotman immigrated to England in 1984, where he lives with his wife and two young sons.

A martial arts enthusiast, he wrote and directed 'Ashes to Ashes', Britain's first martial arts feature-film. He has a cosmopolitan and multi-cultural approach to all his artistic work, which has received recognition internationally. His epic science-fiction novel, 'Veterans of the Psychic Wars', is the first of a proposed 'Psychic Wars' series.

In a distant galaxy known as the Cosmic Sea, Baron Seti Aljyk has caused the Second Psychic War by seizing Najura, the last of the ancient swords of power, and usurping the imperial throne from Sakara Rey, the True Emperor.

On Earth, young schoolteacher Roman Doyle remains unaware he is Prince Armon Sakara, heir apparent of the True Emperor. That is, until he encounters Chi-Ro Jin, a Veteran of the Psychic Wars. Chi-Ro’s mission is to return Roman to the True Emperor, but Roman believes that Chi-Ro is crazy. When Roman’s wife, Soraya, is abducted by the Baron’s assassins, Roman is forced to make the epic journey to the Cosmic Sea.

However he does not go alone. He is joined by his shamira Chi-Ro, Nuri Nemsys a beautiful secret agent, Anah Sadaka the mysterious captain of the Starglider Sanura and Roman’s friend, Zachary Silverman, a quantum physicist.

With his dormant psychic and astral abilities awakened by an alien drug and pursued by the Baron’s assassins, Roman, his friend, and the Veterans of the Psychic Wars face evil and danger in uncharted space and on alien worlds.

Roman must overcome his fears, master the martial art of Hatari Ikou, and learn the secrets of astral projection, in order to rescue his wife, retrieve the sword of power, and bring the Psychic Wars to an end.

Amazon links:


Official site: