Tag Archives: Basement Animation

Animation goes DownTown

DownTown Lagos follows two friends who struggle to make it in the city

Nigerian animator Mbuotidem Johnson, CEO of Basement Animation, tells Content Nigeria about his new series DownTown Lagos, why he created it and the challenges he faced during production.

Mbuotidem Johnson

What inspired you to create DownTown Lagos?
At Basement Animation, we believe in responsible business practices. DownTown Lagos was created because we felt the need to use animation to address relevant social issues. This way, when we capture our viewers’ attention, we can pass across relevant, relatable information that addresses the current issue, albeit with a humorous tone.

What message is the show passing across to its audience?
DownTown Lagos is the story of two friends, Olajide Dollar and Chike Chicago, who despite their daily struggles are determined to ‘make it’ in Lagos after relocating to the city. Each episode will use animation and comedy to illustrate how they constantly come up with new and, more often than not, silly schemes to make money and become successful in the city. The show also touches on real issues affecting their community and Nigeria.

What challenges did you face during production?
The main challenge was a lack of constant power supply during the production process as the production of animated content requires constant power. Also, in the course of producing DownTown Lagos, we were transitioning to a new animation software to meet up with market and innovation demands. Finally, Basement Animation is a relatively small team, therefore we did not have a dedicated team focused solely on the project, and as such, a few of our projects had to be put on hold to enable us finish DownTown Lagos.

What shows do you have in the pipeline?
Our other upcoming animated content includes Tech Timi Out, Raga Shaga Mama and Adefellas. These are all currently in production. Basement Animation is one of the fastest growing animation studios in Lagos and is focused on producing qualitative kids, teen and family entertainment content.

DownTown Lagos aims to offer comedy with a message

In 2017, Basement Animation was mentioned as one of the top five Nigerian animation studios by Discop. That same year we had the opportunity to produce a TV commercial for Fupitoons Festival that was broadcast on Cartoon Network Africa.

In 2018, we coproduced the pilot episode of l’Arbre à Palimpseste, which won the Gulli Prize in Animation du Monde/MIFA pitch at the Annecy Animation Film Festival and was subsequently pre-bought by Gulli, the Lagardère-owned kids’ network. Basement Animation and two other African animation studios will kick off production in the third quarter of this year.

The pilot episode of DownTown Lagos, titled Do As I Say, was released just in time for the recently concluded election cycle in Nigeria. The episode encourages everyone to become more proactive as regards every aspect of nation-building, politically and service wise. It is not enough to be newspaper analysts or social media activists or everyday mourners of bad leadership. Our actions must follow our words and we must do as we say.

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Nigerian TV firms bound for Discop

A number of Nigerian television companies are set to attend the Discop event scheduled to take place in Johannesburg, South Africa next month.

Crey Ahanonu

Discop Johannesburg runs between November 14 and 16 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. It will include several events that will bring innovative ideas, fresh talent and industry experts together.

There will be over 1,500 participants including 1,000-plus acquisition, production and distribution executives from 70 countries, according to Discop organiser Basic Lead.

Also in attendance will be about 250 producers of film, television and digital content, adaptation rights and packaged TV channels, including international, regional and local suppliers. There will be a wide display of movies, TV series, documentaries, animated content and dramas by these firms.

Nigerian firms at the event will include Lagos-based Basement Animation, Screen Academy & Films, Black Studios, Dope7 Media and Shutterspeed Projects.

Crey Ahanonu, CEO of Screen Academy & Films (aka SAF Productions), said: “We stand to gain a lot at this event. It will give us the opportunity to meet with content buyers and discuss filmmaking and online TV. We hope to promote our online TV service, MySafTV.”

This Enugu-based company creates an avenue to teach and empower the young and old who wish to be in the movie industry through its film academy. The company also engages in video production, films, TV shows, commercials and documentaries.

Discop Johannesburg will allow for networking opportunities between content buyers, sellers and producers, screenings of upcoming TV, web shows and movies and also sessions for discussion on topics related to innovation, coproduction relations and pitching competitions.

The conference agenda for the event includes a panel on Nigeria’s animation, comic books and video gaming industry on November 16.

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Animators speak out at NITV

Somto Ajuluchukwu, Ayodele Elegba and Kola Olarewaju at the animation roundtable

Animation is an often-neglected part of Nigeria’s media industry but this is beginning to change, delegates at Nigeria International Television (NITV) Summit heard.

In a roundtable discussion at the Wednesday event, studio heads and animators discussed the uniqueness of the animation industry as well as the challenges.

Mbuotidem Johnson

Speakers included Mbuotidem Johnson, CEO of Basement Animation; Ayodele Elegba, CEO of Spoof Animation; Kola Olarewaju, CEO at Komotion Studios; and Niyi Akinmolayan, CEO of Anthill Studios. The session was moderated by Somto Ajuluchukwu, MD of C3 African Network.

Highlighting the challenges facing the industry, panelists agreed that one of the major issues is electrical power, saying that the use of high-powered computers and other technology necessitates constant light, which is costly in Nigeria.

According to Akinmolayan, talent is also difficult to come by because there are no training schools in Nigeria, so it falls on the animation studios to train animators, which is a long and costly process.

“Finding the right person to do your job is not easy because there are no qualified people and no training schools. Therefore, that responsibility lies on us, so we train and do the job simultaneously because that is the best tactic,” he said.

Agreeing with this, Johnson, who is also the founder of trade body Animation Nigeria, said: “I came from a background of 3D animation but as I considered my options, I switched to 2D. With 2D I can finish a project and train faster. Within a month a trained person can execute 2D renderings well enough, but 3D takes about five to six months of training and you’ve hardly begun.

“Finding investors is also one of the hardest thing to do. So to stay in this industry you have to do things in unusual ways.”

For Akinmolayan, director of The Wedding Party, the right approach to sustaining an animation studio is to get other jobs to keep the cash flowing.

“Do something on the side. I make money as a film director. If you call me to do wedding videos, I will do it. Anything to keep the money flowing in, because animation is a long-term investment and I’m not giving up.”

Olarewaju highlighted the issue of religion and animation. “When we did [short film] Sango, many people said it was fetish. They liked it but would badmouth it because of their religion. They do not see it as a work of art but as something fetish, which is mostly how Nigerians react to something out of the norm,” he said.

“The audience demand in the international market and here in Nigeria varies. Animation in the international market is often created for younger audiences, for under-nines, or nine- to 13-year-olds. However, here it appeals more to adults, so to break the market in Nigeria we are often forced to create content for adults, which is kind of restricting,” said Johnson.

Elegba, also founder of Lagos Comic Con (LCC), advised on the right strategy for getting investors. “If you are only thinking of how good your content is, you will run down,” he said. “You have to think of the business side – think distribution, coproduction, and more.”

LCC, of which Content Nigeria is a media partner, takes place at the Landmark Centre, VI, Lagos on September 15.

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