Sound Genius Scripts Animated Pan Tutorial DVD
Written by Jessica Joseph
Thursday, 21 July 2011 17:33

Simeon Sandiford, Managing Director of Sanch Electronix Limited, is still flabbergasted that he has been awarded funding from the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company (TTFC). After all, he is not a filmmaker and this is his first ever attempt to write a script for a media project. His award of the Production and Script Development Programme (PASD) grant speaks to the discerning selection process of the TTFC which is more inclusive than many realise.

When Simeon wanted to develop an animated DVD designed to teach kids how to play the steel pan, he was, like many artists trying to get projects off the ground, in dire need of financial and production support and had other sources of funding in mind. He himself confesses that when he saw the PASD programme advertised in the newspapers, he applied only as a long shot,

"Well, I thought it was for people making films not for people like me. I didn't think the TTFC would actually fund an interactive DVD. Lo and behold, I got a call from them and when they heard the idea for Pete the Pan Stick , they just went crazy over Pete!"

Who is this Pete that caught the attention of the TTFC? Pete the Pan Stick is a feisty, kid-friendly cartoon character that Simeon hopes, will introduce children five to ten to the rhythmic world of our national instrument, the steel pan. Pete is the brainchild of Simeon Sandiford and Camille Selvon Abrahams, our country's foremost animation artist. They met while attending a Ministry of Education re-training programme focused on pan in education.

"She told me she was an animator and told her I had this crazy idea about teaching children how to play pan on the computer. She suggested using animation as the vehicle for the DVD and came up with the name Pete the Pan Stick . Then I came up with the idea of how Pete will walk a child through learning the pan."

Simeon is very down to earth about his innovative and necessary modernised approach to teaching pan. It was this same originality that drew the TTFC's attention to the project, even though it did not fall into the conventional screenwriting category. They share a common passion; harnessing, integrating and marketing our diverse culture in the global marketplace.

Simeon is a foundation member of the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards and he developed National Standards for the Electro-technical Industry. He is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS ) , USA and member of the Copyright Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago (COTT) and a life member of the UWI Alumni Association ( Trinidad and Tobago Chapter).

Since applying the best international standards in the music industry is second nature to Simeon, it is only natural that interactive media of the highest quality would be part of his vision. However during the scriptwriting process for Pete the Pan Stick , none of this mattered. The real test of his talent was, how to teach the steel pan to a child in the most engaging, user-friendly and fun way possible. In order to do this he had to leave the seasoned professional behind and enter the mind of a child. He describes it this way,

"The DVD had to have an interface children can relate to so I just put myself back in the shoes of a child. When you think about children, they have the summer holidays, sitting around all day, doing nothing or getting into trouble. The one thing they love is to play video and computer games, so I thought why not make learning the pan a computer game?"

"Pete is animated, he talks, claps his hands and we did a version where he can speak in Spanish too. There is a section where they get quizzed and unscramble notes in the form of a jigsaw puzzle to make a song. They can play the simulated pan on the computer or they can even play along on their own steel pan if they want."

Fostering an appreciation of our own musical history is another goal of Pete the Pan Stick and Simeon has designed the DVD with an interactive history of the instrument, arrangers and winning Panorama selections. Just as the TTFC wants to establish a vibrant and viable film industry in Trinidad and Tobago , Simeon wants us to be a world leader in the development of high quality recordings of our own music and related multimedia products for commercial sustainable worldwide distribution. Pete the Pan Stick is just one step in a long road to achieving this goal.

Jessica Joseph

Published in The Newsday