Gbenga Ajetomobi, head of Lagos-based Highbreed Animations, talks about his latest projects and coping with the Covid-19 crisis while working remotely to ensure productions continue.
Tell us about yourself and your company.
I am a 29-year-old 3D animator from Osun state, Nigeria. I live and work in Lagos. Highbreed Animations was initially a branding business I set up back in 2015 to use as a medium to promote my content. But this year, Highbreed Animations is not only a brand name but also a company that creates 3D animated content. We focus solely on character animation and our main goal is to tell as many stories with 3D animation as we can.
With the myriad animation studios in Nigeria, what makes yours unique?
Most animation studios in Nigeria are multi-purpose, that is they focus on animation as much as they focus on other things. But my plan for Highbreed Animations is to focus mainly on character animation, and I’m very passionate about animation and content creation. So my team and I work hard on every project to make it appeal to the audience and also have an international standard.
Recently you celebrated your five-year anniversary. How has it been so far?
It hasn’t really been easy. Most of the five years of starting Highbreed Animations have been spent on gathering knowledge and experience.
Can you tell us about your recent animated web series?
It all started late last year when some of my animation work was seen by [South African singer-turned-screenwriter] Lindiwe Suttle. She already has the idea of what she wants but as a writer she needed someone to make that idea become a reality. Coincidentally, she saw my works and was wowed. We hooked up, had a conversation and that was how we started developing her web series Coconut Confidential.
Coconut Confidential is a new African-produced animated comedy web series written by Lindiwe about her American high school life set in the 1990s. It tells the story of a meek black teenager who sets out to win back her black BFF while struggling to understand the complexity of interracial friendship. We were able to create the demo for the series and right now we are working on the pilot with the hopes of sharing it soon.
Are there plans for any upcoming projects or series?
Yes, I have projects that I am venturing into. I also have my own intellectual property that is the Ojo & Ebuka series. This will be produced in the future but currently I am working with a team to bring other peoples project to life and one of the project is Coconut Confidential, which all my energy is focused on. We are also working on a children’s show that will be disclosed soon.
How have you been able to manage with the pandemic while still producing?
For the pandemic, it is a global crisis affecting everyone generally because it stopped things from happening. As artists, we work remotely most times and it’s the same with Highbreed and its associates. Although, most of our international partners and collaborators were affected by the pandemic and as a result of this, we were also affected, making some activities slow down.
Another area that we were affected also was during the Coconut Confidential production while working on the trailer, the rendering service was affected by the pandemic and this affected our delivery too. Even in Nigeria, the pandemic was a major setback for us, making it difficult for me to meet up with my team members and also unavailability of tools. This was the main reason why we all had to agree to work remotely for safety purpose.
What do you think is the way forward, post-lockdown?
In my opinion, the way forward post-pandemic is for all individuals and entities to accept the fact that things should be done remotely and not basically seeing people face-to-face before you can strike a deal with them. At Highbreed Animations, most of our clients and deals are sealed online and after the agreement, we get their animation done and deliver it to them.
The pandemic has really shaped some of our orientation on how we handle things, it also makes the work faster and easier because it saves the time of going around different locations to see clients. From the comfort of your home, deals can be sealed and signed. As artists it makes us more productive.