With support from the Department of Trade and Industry as well as the Walt Disney
Company, Triggerfish Animation Studios’ Story Lab initiative aims to develop African
storytellers to produce animated content for an international audience.
“Stories are the lifeblood of our business,’ says Anthony Silverston‚ who heads
development at Triggerfish. “We know that there are many writers/directors on the
African continent with talent who have not had the opportunities to create stories
for the world market. Our aim is two-fold: to identify exceptional talent and to
provide them with the right opportunities and support through our network and
infrastructure – with the ultimate aim of going into production. We have a long-term
vision to create a slate of original feature films and to expand into television series
After launching in July 2015, the initiative garnered 1 378 entries from 30 African
countries and produced a shortlist of 35 feature film and TV series projects. The
selected project creators then attended a two week masterclass in Cape Town
hosted by Orion Ross‚ vice president of Animation & Digital Content for Disney
Channels Europe, Middle East and Africa; and Pilar Alessandra, a Hollywood
screenwriting instructor and expert in pitching and story analysis. In December
2015 the final eight projects were announced.
Silverston comments: “Picking the final projects was extremely difficult because
there were a lot of factors to consider and our experts – both international and local
– all had quite varied feedback. I think this pointed to the fact that there were a lot
of worthy submissions, any of which could credibly be developed into a successful
project. I’m excited by the final slate and I’m still hoping that there are ways for us
to remain involved in the development of the other projects too.’
The final feature film participants are: Ian Tucker (South Africa) for Dropped;
Wanuri Kahiu and Nnedi Okorafor (Kenya/Nigeria) for The Camel Racer; Naseem
Hoosen (South Africa) for The Wild Waste; and Kay Carmichael (South Africa) for
Lights. The final TV series participants are: Malenga Mulendema (Zambia) for KC’s
Super 4; Mike Scott (South Africa) for Bru and Boegie; Lucy Heavens (South Africa)
for Wormholes; and Marc Dey and Kelly Dillon (South Africa) for Ninja Princess.
For 28-year old participant Naseem Hoosen the Story Lab process has felt like
coming home: “So often creative people can be guarded about sharing our ideas
(often rightfully so) but the Story Lab helped break down so many of those
Hoosen believes his project, The Wild Waste, made the final cut because the story
is accessible and speaks to his personal experiences growing up in South Africa.
“There’s a strong afro-futurism influence in there and I think it offers the animators
a chance to do something original and beautiful,’ he says.
TV Series finalist Mike Scott, a 33-year-old seasoned animator, says the Story Lab
is a fitting platform to take his project Bru & Boegie, which has been in
development for about 13 years, to the next level. “I’ve been punting my own work
for about 10 years now and this is a major opportunity to give an IP a great chance
at becoming a fully-fledged TV show or movie.’
Silverston says Triggerfish is aiming to have initial story pitches ready for the
Annecy International Animated Film Festival and then move into the next phase of
development, but notes that the development of the features will take some time.
“We’re likely to be working on the scripts for the next couple of years. In February
we’re all getting together in Los Angeles for two weeks to workshop the projects
with Disney experts,’ he comments.
By Carly Barnes