Almost after close to three years since the start of the training program in 2016, a team of youth at the iBEST Studios has created the 2D animated film the “Legend of Pemi Tshewang Tashi”.
The movie is about the warrior who lived during the nineteenth century. Despite the impending omen of his death, Pemi Tshewang Tashi’s loyalty to his lord supersedes the love towards his beloved family and close ones. Yet his journey to the battle is an emotional one; all the good times he had with his family replays in his mind throughout the journey.
Such an animated movie which requires the mastery, in terms of skills and experience, to bring the journey of the legend alive on the silver screen, was started by the inept young team!
With support from the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources, the youthful team was trained for a year in the areas of animation, storytelling and scripting, art and sketching, composition and editing etc. Yet the training was inadequate to gain enough competencies required in their later professional work for the project.
After the training completion, the youthful employees have engaged again in the numerous small projects to further provide hands-on-practice experience. In early 2017, the team began the work on the movie project with so much pride, hopes, and dreams.
The team was well aware that all the members lacked the skills and experiences, and, as a company, we had limited resources at our disposal, especially, in terms of financing and adequate talent pool to execute the project.
Despite all the limitations, the team members dared to take on the project!
As the team went on about the project, to our utter dismay we realized that we could not bring alive the emotional journey of the legend and our hero! We were running short on deadline. As a company, we ran out short on our resources. The team members were exhausted. Emotionally stressed despite all the hard work and effort with so much of dedication and commitment. We had literally ‘travelled the road less travelled’ but all in the darkness. We were all lost, worried, and scared about the course of the future ahead of us.
In the process, some of the team members opted out of the project for their own good. The team members left behind felt abandoned, and the gusto and spirit at the workstations were diminished. Our project was a laughing stock and ridicule among the others who knew about the daring project we have undertaken.
The biggest blow to the project was that even amongst the remaining members, the project was a far-fetched dream, a wishful thinking!
We had the series of meetings and heated discussions to decide the fate of the project. It was an unpleasant time at the office which was taking a toll on each of the team members – both at a workplace and a home. The project was halted. During that period, all the team members had time to think through in retrospection about what went wrong in our journey thus far.
On our final exit meeting, some inexplicable miracle happened!
Instead, we asked ourselves for what did we work for; what was the use of all our difficulties that we endured; and why did we start the movie project in the first place?
All of us agreed, deep in our hearts, that we sacrificed so much for nothing. We too are human like any other who are capable and gifted, who have achieved and made their dreams possible despite all the bottlenecks they persevered along their way.
We were united as a team but all for the one common goal – to make the Legend of Pemi Tshewang Tashi a reality, the dream we aspired for! We literally transcended beyond our petty issues.
For the company, the biggest worry was that how do we engage our team members if we had to halt the project. Their employment and future, and above all the livelihoods which depend on them. The far-reaching concern, at an intellectual level, where will they fit in beyond their animation career – a vocation and dream that they too held on for so long!
The company took a firm stand. We reaffirmed ourselves that we are committed in our cause to ‘create, develop, and promote’ the animation sector in our own small ways. And that through the works that we undertake, we will continue to ‘provide an enabling platform for the passionate youth’ to tell our Bhutanese stories to the best of our ability.
The Legend of Pemi Tshewang Tashi is our stepping stone for all these aspirations to happen. For our team members and the company, we took a leap of faith!
The company pulled in some more financing. Then we fixed our final deadline, the third in the row beyond which we will not budge an inch! Our attitude was either “do or die”.
Then we did the things differently- we celebrated our strengths, we made up for our weaknesses; we helped one another, and stood by one another like a solid rock. And our office became a second home- we worked together in complete unison, ate together, cheered for one another; and we were seeing the dream becoming a reality in front of our own eyes!
The day came for us to launch our first official trailer and poster on 1st August which coincided with our company’s anniversary. The trailer motivated all of us that we had not made a mistake in our quest. And that made all the difference to the team members to give in whatever they could for the last mile of the project.
We premiered our movie on 12th September in Thimphu. The team members and the iBEST family are overwhelmed with the positive response from the crowd.
In all our humility, we would like to thank everyone who helped us through in their own ways during the project.
We thank from the deepest of our hearts to Dr Karma Phuntsho for writing a wonderful review about the film published in Kuensel newspaper; Chablop Passang Tshering for taking an effort to blog about our journey; and BBS for their wonderful coverage. And numerous individuals and organizations who helped us, and still continue, to promote our movie and its comic book. We owe our gratitude to individuals, viz., Azha Karma, Ngawang Phuntsho, Dasho Sangay Khandu, Chimi Zangmo, Namgay Zam, and numerous others. We thank VAST Bhutan and READ Bhutan, the NGOs which champion the cause to promote the overall art and reading culture in Bhutan respectively, for allowing us to “donate five per cent sale proceed” to each organization.
Currently, our movie is screening at the Lugar Theatre every weekend at 4:30 PM since its release during the Thimphu Tshechu.
We thank all the people who continue to show us your genuine love, support, and appreciation for the work that our youth has done by coming to watch the movie at the theatre. And buying the comic book, which has both the languages Dzongkha and English, at the ticketing counter. The comic books are available, at a retail price of Nu 350, at several bookstores, viz., Megah Enterprise, Junction Bookstore, Pekang Bookstore, and DSB Bookstore.
With the support of all our Bhutanese people from all walks of life, we can make an animation dream a reality for our youth and the future generations, and above all, build a long lasting asset to the nation.
Thank you and kadrinche la.