Visual Culture: Animated “Bad Influence” From Mental Chung

November 19, 2010

Words by Eddie STATS Houghton, via

Chung Picture 1

West Indian animator Reinardo “Mental” Chung of Mental Chung Creative Lab has been generating lots of attention in the past month or so with the release of an animated, dancehall-driven short film, apparently Jamaica’s first. The story is in the police-and-thieves vein and is called “Bad Influence”–we caught the vapors via our dude Skerrit and then shortly afterward came across this quick interview with Chung on, delving into his process, plans for an effects and production house in Jamaica and which dancehall personality he would most like to animate. Watch “Bad Influence” below and read the interview after the jump.

UPDATE: Though it has been widely touted as such, we have been informed via email that ‘Bad Influence” is not Jamaica’s first animated short. Specifically Adrian Lopez and Coretta Singer wonย  awards at the Animae Caribe and New Media festivals in 2001 and 2007, respectively. If you have links for these artists or other Caribbean animators hail us up in the comments section, we would love to post them!

Chung Picture 3

Q: How did you get started in doing animation?

A: Animation is something that I have been interested in ever since I was a child. I taught myself the necessary softwares a few years after learning graphic design–which was self-taught also.
Q: Tell us about your animated short Bad Influence?

A: โ€œBad Influenceโ€ is about a young man (Lance) who is convinced by his friends (Jeff, Grains, Chronic) to assist them in pulling off a heist they devisedโ€ฆbut none took into consideration the circumstances to arise as a result of their individual desires. Caught in a major dilemma, they have to make a speedy decision on how to maneuver so they have a chance of making an escape.

Chung Picture 4

Q: Who is your target audience for the film?

A: My target audience is anyone interested in this type of stuff, young or old.
Q: When and where it will be released?

A: The film (was) released Oct. 8 on my website as well as on YouTube.
Q: Do you have a distribution channel or will you be using the internet?

A: Internet at the moment and it will also be available on DVD along with some extras.
Q: Creating animated films is said to take 5 times the challenge of real life film. How many hours has this short taken?

A: I been at it for four months since I came up with the initial idea, I can tell you the sleep hours are at least six hours a day and the hours put into the film is at least 90% of the time that I am awake.
Q: Based on the trailer it seems there is some great music in the film. Who can we expect and how did you select the music?

A: For the trailer I used sound effects from royalty-free music sites online, as well as some dancehall to generate that high energy vibe and to highlight the fact that the film is Jamaican.
Q: What other projects are you working on?

A: More shorts to come in the future but for now โ€œBad Influenceโ€ is the main focus.
Q: What is your favorite animated film?

A: I have many but I would say Final Fantasy: Advent Children. the animation is unlike anything I have ever seen its just mind blowing and Iโ€™m a fan of high impact stuff.
Q: What do you think of the move to more 3-D animated film?

A: As an artform, 3-D animation is exactly what film needs to push its visionary boundaries and ideas; not only is the mind of the writer and director free to explore without limitations of set design or characters or location–camera angles and so on–but it has also brought stunning, detailed imagery that enhances the viewers experience. Software and equipment has gotten so sophisticated that it blurs the line between what is real and what is fake both in imagery and animation. Films have to evolve and 3-D is the right if not the only direction.
Q: If you could work with any Jamaican entertainer to create an animated character who would it be?

A: Well I guess it would depend on the idea but off the bat Twin of Twins would make some very fascinating characters.
Q: What food is a must have while working?

A: Peanut Butter Sandwich.
Q: What type of music?

Reggae, dancehall, hiphop, r&b, soul, pop, rock.
Q: Ten years from now where do you expect your company to be?
A: I Live moment to moment and try to make each moment better so I guess ten years will be an extremely amplified version of now. I do see the film industry in Jamaica expanded, though and hope to contribute towards that. Also, an established movie production and visual effects house right here in JA.
Q: Thanks for the interview any closing thoughts?

A: Appreciate it, peace and love, blessings and education to all.

ChungPicture 5