South African animation industry gets a boost with Triggerfish-E4D partnership

The South African animation industry got their much needed boost with the new partnership between Africa’s leading animation studio Triggerfish and the German-funded Employment for Skills and Development in Africa (E4D) Programme, a technical assistance project of the German government. The announcement was made at this weekend’s Cape Town International Animation Festival (CTIAF).

The ambitious three-year partnership aims to expose 10,000 school leavers to the animation industry; empower 6,000 creatives with enhanced portfolios and market access; and create 200 more jobs.

“While so many businesses have been taking strain during the pandemic, the animation industry in Africa has been exploding,” said Triggerfish (25-year-old studio) foundation director Carina Lücke. 

“Among other recent breakthroughs for the African animation industry, Disney has ordered Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire, Kiya, Iwájú, and Kiff; Netflix is in production on Mama K’s Team 4; Cartoon Network is airing My Cartoon Friend and has greenlit Garbage Boy and Trash Can; and YouTube has renewed Super Sema for a second season. So despite everything, there’s never been a better time to be an animator in Africa,” Lücke added.

According to E4D team leader Gavin Watson, they’ve identified animation as an industry sector that is attractive to young people and is growing fast. He further adds that the opportunities for animation extend outside the traditional film industry, within fields like advertising, app and web design, architecture, engineering, gaming, industrial design, medicine, and the motor industry, not to mention growth sectors like augmented reality and virtual reality.

Mifa head Véronique Encrenaz said that the 2021 Annecy International Animation Festival awarded Triggerfish the Mifa Animation Industry Award for “the pioneering role that the company has played in animation in South Africa, and Africa most widely.” 

At Annecy, Triggerfish was announced as the lead producer on the Disney+ original animated anthology, Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire, which brings together a new wave of animation stars to take you on a wildly entertaining ride into Africa’s future. Oscar-winning director Peter Ramsey (Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse), who first appeared in South Africa at CTIAF in 2019, will serve as executive producer for the anthology, which features directors from Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Also, Triggerfish announced  a pan-African story artist lab supported by Netflix. This is giving twenty story artists three months of paid skills development with international industry experts, overseen by Nathan Stanton, a story artist on Oscar-winning features like Brave, Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc

The Triggerfish-E4D partnership will be capturing the learnings from both Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire and the story artist lab. These will shape future modules on the free Triggerfish Academy digital learning platform, among other initiatives. 

Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire

The partnership with E4D is one of a number of Triggerfish initiatives to train and diversify the next generation of African animators. Other Triggerfish initiatives include sponsoring 20 bursaries to The Animation School with MICT SETA for 2021; sponsoring the 2021 Women in Animation World Summit. Also, running the Mama K’s Team 4 all-female writers lab with Netflix and the pan-African Triggerfish Story Lab, supported by The Walt Disney Company, which led to Mama K’s Team 4 selling to Netflix and Kiya to Disney.

During CITAF, the partnership launched a free online course on editing for animation. They also announced a 10-second animation competition for eighteen to thirty five year-olds. Prizes include a Wacom One graphics tablet and a 30-minute one-on-one session with Triggerfish production head Mike Buckland. 

Also, they jointly conducted four workshops in presence of stalwarts like Clea Mallinson of Jungle Beat – The Movie fame.