South Africa made a strong showing at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival this year, with three films in competition and two wins at the star-studded awards. But behind the scenes, Tim and Candice Argall of Bugbox Animation have been working on a different kind of win for SA.
Off the back of their winning pitch at MIFA’s Animation du Monde contest last year, and a subsequent residency at prestigious French studio Folimage, the team have signed a French/South African co-production. The property the team will be producing is the preschool series Musi & Cuckoo, the story of two best friends, a chicken and a hippo, who run a taxi service. The motto of the show is “better together.’
As part of their award from MIFA, creators and Bugbox co-owners Tim and Candice Argall worked with consultant mentor Cristophe Erbes to develop the series, as well as undertaking a residency at Ciclic in Vendome. Production designer, Heidi Stohr also benefited from on-site mentorship at the Folimage studios in Valence.
As the series developed, Folimage decided they wanted to be in it for the long haul. “They fell in love with the heart of the show,’ says Candice Argall. “We are thrilled with the opportunity to partner with Folimage – a studio we have long admired for their bold creativity and passion for the craft of animation. We look forward to sharing the creative process with them and the opportunity to learn from their many years of experience.’
The Bugbox/Folimage co-production will open the door to further collaborations, and help cement South Africa’s standing as an animation partner of choice for France and beyond, explains Frederic Chambon, Regional Media and Film Attache at the French Institute in South Africa (IFAS).
“We are particularly excited and happy to celebrate Musi & Cuckoo as the first animation co-production between France and South Africa,’ says Chambon. “This is the direct outcome of a development support process we put in place together with MIFA for this project, and the relationships we established between our two animation industries these past years together with Animation SA.’
More exciting partnerships are already in the works, Chambon reveals: “In addition to Musi & Cuckoo, we have two animated short films in development as co-productions, as part of an ongoing cooperation that includes partnerships with animation schools like Gobelins, internships of French students in local studios and support to the Cape Town International Animation Festival.’
“Frederic Chambon and IFAS have been instrumental in forging ties between the film and animation industries of our two countries,’ says Julia Smuts Louw, Head of Marketing for Animation SA. “We’re grateful also to MIFA for making this opportunity available to South African studios, and proud to see it paying off.’