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.
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.
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.