US-based Baboon Animation has partnered with the African Animation Network (AAN) on a new production unit to work with creators in Africa.
Baboon Animation Africa has launched in partnership with AAN to help foster a “socially responsible animation industry” in Africa, the two organisations said.
The move comes after the two were commissioned by WarnerMedia-owned Cartoon Network Africa to produce superhero series Garbage Boy & Trash Can (10×2’30”) with the show’s creator Ridwan Moshood earlier this year.
Mike de Seve, president of Baboon Animation, said the aim of Baboon Animation Africa is to develop talent and shows in an “equitable and responsible way that keeps creators in the driver’s seat.”
Among the six initiatives the two are set to launch in the next six months as Africa’s animation industry continues to grow are The Great Big African Animation Pitch, slated for early 2022 and focusing on under-represented creators.
Nigerian animator Moshood, creator of Garbage Boy & Trash Can, was identified by Baboon as part of a pan-African talent development partnership with AAN’s Nick Wilson and the Annecy International Animation Festival/MIFA in France.
“We are building on the success of our new WarnerMedia show, Garbage Boy & Trash Can. Real ownership by African creators is our goal and we have the relationships to do it. AAN pioneered this approach through their social impact goals and together we are expanding,” said de Seve.
“Baboon is a perfect creative partner for this enterprise,” said AAN founder and head of projects and content Wilson, who developed and produced the continent’s first half-hour adult animated comedy in 2015.
AAN, which links various animation professionals and national associations across Africa, unveiled plans for a linear channel to Content Nigeria earlier this year.
“We have relationships with the biggest comedy stars and animation talent in Africa. The word is out that we are the go-to people if you have a show. We are the first ones producing African shows in Africa for a global media company,” added Wilson.
The African Animation Network (AAN), which links various animation professionals and national associations across Africa, has unveiled plans for a linear channel.
The AAN will first roll out a one-hour weekly edutainment block across networks in Africa at the end of this year, said its founder and head of projects and content Nick Wilson.
The animation-focused programming block will be trialled for three months in partnership with, at present, around 11 partner broadcasters in Sub-Saharan Africa that cannot yet be named.
“These broadcasters have a total audience reach of around 85 million viewers, and we’re conservatively estimating we can engage 8.5 to 12 million kids,” Wilson said.
The ANN plans to secure investment to launch its own linear channel if the trial is successful.
“We’re pretty bullish that we will get further investment to be able to run or at least build out a programme block or a 24/7 linear channel,” Wilson added.
“We want to create a broadcast network across the continent, but we also want to work in partnership with the local broadcasters and assist them in building ecosystems. We do not want to be in competition with them.”
On the content the network would greenlight, Wilson said: “There are only a handful of TV series that have come out of Africa and there is not enough catalogue for us to run a 24/7 linear channel.
“We have relationships with various distributors, who have plugs that we could license into Africa. But ultimately, the idea is for us to build up our channel around a new production company.”
Following the launch of a broadcast network, Wilson said the AAN would look to roll out accompanying digital platforms.
“In our roadmap, we have already identified that streaming or SVoD services will be part of the project’s long-term future, and we will pivot to that when it becomes necessary,” he said.
African non-profit organisation The Ladima Foundation has linked up with Culture & Development East Africa (CDEA) and the Kwetu International Animation Film Festival (KIAFF) to organise training, development and professional opportunities for women in animation across East Africa.
The animation training for women will start in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in early 2022 and participants will be trained by well-known animator Comfort Arthur and the African Animation Network. They will also engage in an incubator and accelerate mentorship programme aimed at ensuring their skills are put to use in the animation sector.
KIAFF provides a platform for animators, animation writers, innovators and distributors to showcase and promote regional and international animation. It will also provide a key opportunity for successful trainees to showcase their work.
KIAFF founder and director Daniel Nyalusi said the partnership is important for East African animation filmmakers, particularly women, in that it will provide an opportunity for women in animation to learn animation skills and apply them in a professional environment through the incubate and accelerate process.
“As a festival we will be excited to showcase the work of more women animators and we hope this training will be part of igniting the animation sector in East Africa,” Nyalusi said.
CDEA, a creative think-tank based in Dar es Salaam, facilitates multi-stakeholders to use culture as a resource to promote creativity and innovation supported by technology to solve the numerous social, political and economic challenges faced in East Africa.
Executive director Ayeta Anne Wangusa said: “We are excited about this partnership because it reinforces our commitment to train filmmakers in East Africa. In 2017, we launched CDEA’s Creative Economy Incubator & Accelerator initiative focusing on the audiovisual and design sectors. This partnership provides us an opportunity to improve the capacities of women filmmakers in a male-dominated industry.”
The partnership between The Ladima Foundation, CDEA and KIAFF is the first of a number of East Africa initiatives that will roll out in 2022 among other partners, according to the companies.
The Annecy International Animation Film Festival (MIFA) will celebrate African animation at this year’s event, which takes place in France from June 14 to 19.
The hybrid event, which will be both online and onsite, has many African films in the official selection. They include Kenyan short The Wonderful Story of Aisha and Ali & Flipflopi the Multicoloured Dhow Boat, which is directed by Kwame Nyong’o and produced by Nairobi’s Apes in Space Animation.
Other titles include Twende Smoothie Operator (52×11’) from South Africa and Kenya, about a pangolin living on the African savannahs, and short film Cause of Death from South African production house Süd Nord Film and distributor Sixpack Films.
The best of Fupitoons Festival, launched by the African Animation Network, will highlight about 20 films from eight countries, while African animation artist William Kentridge will be celebrated through nine of his short films.
Nigerian animator Adebisi Adetayo’s feature film Lady Buckit & the Motley Mopsters will also be showcased, and Nigerian cartoon studio Basement Animation’s project Joko & Dide has been selected for MIFA Nigerian focus at the event.
Also selected as top finalists from Nigeria include Egbelughe Philip, Stanlee Ohikhuare, Oyikan Odunlami, Temidayo Odunlami, Brian Wilson, Eseme Joseph, Oluwayomi Oluwasegun Samson and Omotunde Akiode. They will also pitch their works as part of the Nigerian focus in front of an audience of international professionals.
There will also be pitch presentations of 21 African projects from countries across the continent, including Madagascar, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa, Egypt and a comic book project for adaptation.
In addition, there will be a conference on Understanding African Animation: Collaboration at the Core of Today & Tomorrow’s Strategies, focusing on training and technology, production and distribution and opportunities to meet with publishers, broadcasters and distributors from the continent.
MIFA is held every year in the town of Annecy in the French Alps and is attended by more than 13,000 industry professionals from around the world.
The Annecy International Animated Film Festival & Market (MIFA) has reunited with the African Animation Network (AAN) and Discop for its pan-African pitching competition.
The Annecy/MIFA Pitches Animation du Monde competition will this year expand its reach in Africa by also partnering with Discomics, which will ensure the competition takes place in three markets (Discop Abidjan, Zanzibar and Johannesburg) and three comic conventions.
These events are the ICON Comic & Gaming Convention, Nairobi Comic Convention (NAICCON) and Lagos Comic Convention (LCC). The grand finale will take place at Discomics Johannesburg.
“This expanded footprint is exciting because it allows us to reach unique animation talent from more territories and countries in Africa which ensures greater diversity and representation,” said Geraldine Bache, head of education and projects at MIFA.
“This embodies Animation du Monde’s core mandate of assisting in building talent in developing animation territories.”
Participating animators will be given a chance to pitch their content to media professionals at Discop, Abidjan (May 29-31); ICON CGC, Johannesburg (June 29-July 1); Discop Zanzibar (July 11-13), NAICCON in Nairobi (August 11-12) and LCC in Lagos (September 15).
Entries for the competition will open in Abidjan (April 11-May 11), Johannesburg (May 8-June 8), Zanzibar (May 20-June 20), Nairobi (August 11-12) and Lagos (July 24-August 24).
According to Nick Wilson, head of projects at AAN: “There’s going to be a lot of conversation around African animation at Discop. They’re allowing the African animation industry to market itself to the greater broadcast industry in Africa. That’s a massive spotlight.”
Two projects will be selected from each event to compete at the Grand Finale at Discomics Johannesburg (November 14-17). Participants who make it to the finale will be given an opportunity to compete at the Animation du Monde event in 2019 in France.
“Perhaps the biggest value for entrants who proceed to the Grand Finale is the Annecy/MIFA Animation du Monde Skills Programme, which includes pitching workshops, training sessions and one-on-one meetings with industry experts ahead of the Grand Finale. Last year, we saw a number of talents develop exponentially through this experience,” added Wilson.
The annual Annecy International Animation Film Festival, held in France, is one of the four international animated film festivals sponsored by the International Animated Film Association. This year’s edition will be held from June 11 to June 16.
Last year’s inaugural pan-African pitching competition saw two projects selected to represent Africa at Animation du Monde 2018: Mumue, a short film by Wendy Spinks and Clea Mallison (South Africa) and The Tree of Palimpsest, a TV series from Ingrid Agbo (Togo).
Nigerian animator Mbuotidem Johnson tells Content Nigeria about the challenges facing his industry and his plans for his company, Basement Animation Studios.
The animation industry in Nigeria has often been overlooked, especially by audiences who are unaware of the power of storytelling with animation.
Mbuotidem Johnson, founder of industry body Animation Nigeria and creative director of production company Basement Animation Studios, told Content Nigeria about the problems plaguing the animation business, what is being done about them and – above all – how the industry is growing.
In a bid to address the many problems that hold back the industry, Johnson created Animation Nigeria, a non-profit organisation that aims to establish the Nigerian animation industry by ensuring adequate promotion and visibility, both locally and internationally.
Johnson also discloses the plans he has for Basement Animation Studios and the projects the company has been involved in so far. These include coproducing the pilot episode of TV series L’arbre à Palimpseste, from Togo studio Nebularts and animator Ingrid Agbo, which was selected for Annecy-MIFA Pitches Animation du Monde 2018 and awarded with The Gulli Prize.
As the founder of Animation Nigeria, can you give us an overview of your plans?
Animation Nigeria [AN] is a body that helps offer a better perspective on what we are about for the government and to help structure the animation industry. Before now, different studio heads have had such an idea of putting things together but have been met with a number of challenges. I didn’t know this until I started the organisation.
After I attended Discop 2016, I had a discussion with representatives from Animation South Africa and I told them about starting the same thing over here. We deliberated and they advised me on what to expect, from the difficulty of getting government attention to the benefits and flaws associated with it.
On returning, I contacted some studio heads based here, told them my vision and we began the process. As a non-profit organisation, we are still in the process of putting everything in place, because it’s a long process. Nevertheless, we’ve been able to partner with the African Animation Network [AAN], which is based in South Africa. We are looking over the whole network of Africa whilst trying to create synergy and collaboration between different countries.
AAN has been a big partner, supporting us at Discop and giving us opportunities to showcase things that have to do with our industry. A big win for AAN was when we went to Annecy in June and they partnered with Annecy in terms of the pitching competition within Africa. The finalist chosen from Africa also won at Annecy 2017. It was a huge deal, not only that they won but that a big channel network, Gulli in France, picked up their project. That was kudos for two years of hard work.
For AN, we have had a lot of discussions with studios trying to see how they can create their own IP. A lot of studios in Nigeria do more of service work – like advertising – rather than create their own content. Everyone is sceptical about doing that because it requires funding and to keep a studio afloat for a couple of years before any returns is quite difficult.
Would you say these challenges are particular to Nigeria?
Not really, but Nigeria has its own cases. Like having to run a studio with unstable power supply or a lot of animation companies going after projects in the same market because there are very few agencies available. These are some of the causes but some of these are normal challenges worldwide.
We started our project two years ago and focused on producing our own IP, which is why we began attending Discop and other markets. During that process we met Nebularts, a studio from Togo that was in the pitching competition. We coproduced their pilot episode that won at Annecy.
The perspective I’ve always been selling is how to get the studio funded without government support. In this country, we have a media industry, Nollywood, that produces content in a week with low budgets. But it takes us about two years to produce animated content, and this makes many prospective sponsors reluctant to support with funding because the returns are not as swift.
With this in mind, we decided to move into coproduction, partnering with studios that can produce quality content and reach out to other continents as well.
Presently, we are in talks with Ingrid Agbo (Nebularts), the owner of the IP, and studios from Burkina Faso and Madagascar, to coproduce a full 52×7’ season of L’arbre à Palimpseste, which was selected at Annecy. With this, we’ve broken the norm by working on coproduction based on our business formula and are able to fund the studio and get the necessary equipment. We keep producing and having a big network like Gulli pick up one of our projects has given us credibility, not only for Basement Animation but the animation industry in Nigeria.
How do you go about distribution?
For coproduced content, they’ve got Gulli ready to showcase it, and also putting in funds for the project. They also raise funds from different countries, some of these have policies put in place and the government tends to fund the project because a studio within their country is producing.
For our own content, we are in discussion with producers in France. We also pitched some of our ideas at Annecy in June and are working out the details. However, many companies are reluctant to sponsor a new studio and also one in another continent but our projects have given us credibility and we’re being taken seriously.
Do you have any plans to produce, coproduce and distribute shows in Nigeria?
Yes, we do. But it’s all about funding. Even when studios want to collaborate, getting the money is the question on everyone’s mind. Networks are also hesitant to fund animated projects; they usually tell us to produce it first and then they’ll buy it. Then studios get stuck because there is no one ready to invest.
With our own IPs, we’re thinking of other angles such as creating shortform shows rather than 11-minute episodes, distributing them online, gathering audiences and leveraging brand placement. From there we finally get our show in the market.
At the Annecy market, we had a number of companies offer to have our content on their platforms based on certain conditions, such as showcasing our content and generating income if we reach a certain number of views. They are not ready to invest but it is easier compared to doing 11-minute videos with no returns.
The first two projects selected to compete in the African final of the Annecy – MIFA Pitches Animation du Monde have been revealed.
Étincelle, represented by Ouassila Kharoune (Burkina Faso), and Koka Kitoumbou, represented by Shikartoon (Congo Brazza), have been selected from the five competitors that were shortlisted at the recent Discop Abidjan market in Ivory Coast.
The Annecy/MIFA Pitches Animation du Monde competition plans to expand its reach in Africa by partnering with Discomics, with further finalists being selected from pitch competitions at forthcoming events the ICON Comic & Gaming Convention (South Africa), the Nairobi Comic Convention (Kenya) and the Lagos Comic Convention (Nigeria).
The pitch competition is a partnership between the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and Market/MIFA (Annecy/MIFA) and the African Animation Network.