Triggerfish and Netflix partner up to launch ‘Story Artist Lab’ in Africa

Image via Instagram @triggerfishanimation

Triggerfish has launched a Netflix-sponsored artist lab that includes being mentored by Oscar-winning creatives. They are in the hunt for talented African citizens with concept art and/or storyboarding portfolios to join the team and shortlisted applicants will have three months of paid skills development with international industry experts like Nathan Stanton, a story artist on Oscar-winning features like Brave, Finding Nemo, and Monsters Inc, who will be leading the training program. 

Sponsored by Netflix and produced by Triggerfish, The Story Artist Lab builds on the success of their Mama K’s Team 4 all-female writers lab, which saw nine African women placed in the writing room for the first animated Netflix series from Africa. 

Applications for the Story Artist Lab opened on Wednesday, 23 June and will close on Friday, 23 July. The Cape Town-based animation studio is well established in the animation industry with their film Zog winning an international Emmy for best kids animation among other animation awards, including the 2020 children’s programme award from the Royal Television Society.

Tendayi Nyeke

The purpose of the Story Artist Lab is to find talent and upskill the next generation of story artists in the African animation industry. The lab positions will be awarded to young African citizens who show outstanding potential in the creative arts and visual storytelling. “Story artists translate screenplays into animatics, the loose first version of the movie that then shapes every step of animation that follows,” says Triggerfish development executive Tendayi Nyeke. “So having skilled story artists from the continent in control of how their stories are told is a gamechanger, not only in grooming the next African directors but also in giving pre-production artists the opportunity to establish their own voice as they bring African stories to life.”  

Recent initiatives to develop the African animation industry include the Triggerfish Story Lab, a pan-African talent search that has already seen two series greenlit for the world stage: Mama K’s Team 4 for Netflix and Kiya for eOne, Disney Junior, and Disney+, as well as the free Triggerfish Academy online training course. 

Who can apply to join as an animator for Story Artist Lab?

According to Triggerfish, 

  • Anyone with a love of storytelling, film and visual language.
  • The Lab is targeted at experienced and inexperienced storyboard artists. There will be multiple tracks within the Lab for different experience levels.
  • Applicants must be citizens of a country on the continent of Africa and women are specifically encouraged to apply.
  • Knowledge of Photoshop (or similar) is a requirement
  • Applicants may upload a storyboarding portfolio (if you have one), but all applicants must do the storyboarding test.
  • Matriculated school leavers and older may apply.

What the applicants need to know:

  • The Story Artist Lab is a paid skills development programme.
  • The Story Artist Lab is made up of two times six week phases. Selected artists will do phase one after which there is a reduced number of artists that move to phase two.
  • Phase one runs from 2 August – 10 September 2021
  • Phase two runs from 13 September – 23 October 2021
  • Selected artists will be required to be available for daily and weekly sessions and training.
  • Remote working is encouraged.
  • You do not need to have storyboard experience. You can find videos on the Triggerfish site to help you, after watching you may proceed to take the storyboard test. All applicants need to upload the prescribed storyboarding test.

Triggerfish’s first two films, Adventures in Zambezia and Khumba, sold nine million cinema tickets globally. The 25-year-old studio also produced the upcoming feature Seal Team, starring Oscar winner J.K. Simmons and Emmy winner Matthew Rhys; and animated the Academy Award-nominated Roald Dahl adaptation Revolting Rhymes as well as much-loved Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler adaptations produced by Magic Light Pictures (2021 Annie Award winner The Snail and the Whale, BAFTA-nominated and Annecy-winning Stick Man, Rose d’Or winner The Highway Rat).