Ingrid Agbo laughingly points out that “… I can’t even draw a line.”
This Paris-based Togolese director and camera operator didn’t let her lack of experience in the art form stand in the way of working towards producing an animated series about African history. “…but I know what I want…and I have a lot of giants [in design and animation] around me.” The story leading up to Annecy 2018 is in itself a uniquely African one.
Ingrid Agbo took the stage at the 2018 MIFA Animation du Monde pitching. It was the third time she would tell a room of mostly strangers about L’arbre à Palimpseste. This project is about two brothers who learn about historic African figures from the stories their grandmother tells them.” Her nervousness was understandable but like in the previous sessions in Abidjan and Johannesburg her concept won judges over. Gulli, the French children’s network, awarded it with a prestigious presale.
There are many stories that relay European and Asian history. Ingrid hopes that L’arbe à Palimseste will become a landmark series for historical figures from the African continent. “ … if you talk about African history, heroes…this is something that, in a TV show, has not been done before.” Ingrid said during a recent interview. Each episode is a short film about a person from history with the grandmother and her two grandsons as the only reoccurring characters. The boys represent our own ignorance of the past. Through them we learn more about these people. “African history is full of important and inspiring – but sadly forgotten – characters. We wish to resume this transmission, to promote this fading legacy.”
A screenshot from the second pilot of L’arbre à Palimpseste image courtesy of Ingrid Agbo
Annecy was the catalyst that the project needed to move forward. “Gulli here in France and in Africa is the channel for children, it is something very important to have that kind of broadcaster for children [as a partner]…we are very happy and proud” Ingrid said about the deal. The presale enables the L’arbre à Palimpseste team to approach more coproduction partners, distributors, and perhaps institutional funding. The project has come a long way since the initial pilot that Ingrid funded herself, “The first pilot cost a lot… but the result wasn’t so good…animation costs a lot, if you don’t put in the money you don’t get the quality.”
This was the beginning of her journey with L’arbre à Palimpseste. When she heard that African Animation Network had organised the Animation du Monde pitching session during DISCOP Abidjan 2017 she saw an opportunity. “The important thing about this pitching session…was to put talent together…” Through it she was able to meet with animation studios from across Africa and started to collaborate with two. “I didn’t realise I could find collaboration with [an animation] studio in Africa.” She worked with studio Basement Animation Studios in Nigeria to make a second pilot.
Mbuotidem Johnson, the creative director and producer for Basement Animation Studios was invited to speak about Animation Nigeria at DISCOP Abidjan 2017. “[Ingrid] showed me the first pilot that she created. I also had a pilot with me that we created for market…which I showed her.” Mboutidem, like Ingrid, believes that festivals and markets are key to growth. “I have met more people in my industry… [it] has exposed me, educated me, and empowered me in this industry….”
This Pan-African collaboration yielded the fruit she had hoped for. “I gave them the opportunity to work on the second pilot…we won the ticket to get to Annecy.” She wants to continue collaborating with studios from across the continent to produce the first season’s 52 episodes. “I think if you have talent in animation and drawing on the continent why not use them? I have no problem working with talent from my continent.” Prior to pitching she added a coproduction partner from Madagascar. “All of the partners, I hope to work with them further, always tell me that the concept is very good, but we need to improve the animation and design.”
A setting from the new designs of L’arbre à Palimpseste image courtesy of Ingrid Agbo
The African animation industry is not as well-known as those in other developing countries. She wants to show the world what African talent is capable of delivering world class content. The fact that animation is a resource-heavy endeavor is something that is on her mind when talking about the project. “I used to call it the African production economy…It doesn’t mean we won’t produce quality. It just means that is difficult to raise the funds to make the 52 episodes in the first season.” She believes that the success of the project requires them to invest in African talent. “If we want to compete on a world stage we have to produce quality, and quality requires a lot of money. We believe that money brings in money”.
Setting the historic parts of each episode apart through design, L’arbre à Palimpseste image courtesy of Ingrid Agbo
The historical figure that was chosen for the pilot is Anne Zingha, an African queen that demanded excellence from her subjects and ruled with strength. Much like Ingrid she faced the odds stacked against her with an uncompromising determination. “Just tell the right history of this lady and you have a movie. I chose her because I was impressed when I read her story. I need to tell this story. There was no political meaning in choosing this character.”
Re-imaging the past, L’arbre à Palimpseste image courtesy of Ingrid Agbo
For all the talk about history it might make L’arbre à Palimpseste sound like a documentary series, which it is not. “[humour is] the vehicle that carries all truth.” Ingrid explained about the tone of the series. The fun in the series is created around the techniques only animation can create. She wants to share something with children that she didn’t have growing up “When I was [a] kid I missed [a show like this] a lot. When I grew up I didn’t know about these historic figures. The people [with] whom I identify were not from my continent, or my country. It was very sad to realise that. To discover some heroes is very important to educate ourselves. It makes you look at yourself differently.” She hopes that L’arbre à Palimpseste will add to the rich tapestry of world history.
A screenshot from the second pilot of LL’arbre à Palimpseste image courtesy of Ingrid Agbo
Ingrid describes her willingness to make changes on the design and animation as key to winning the Gulli prize. But, she wasn’t willing to compromise on the authenticity of the story to get it made. “I met a producer in France. He liked the project but [he said] why is it so important for you to only have black characters in your story?” Her reply was that there isn’t any problem with being black. “My goal is to keep the history very strong…no matter what the animation and design is as long as the heart of the story stays strong.”
At the moment she is still planning the logistics of going into production. She is excited that she has found partners through Animation du Monde who believes in L’arbre à Palimpseste as much as she does. “The theory, the pitching is now over, it’s time to make it”. And make it, she will.
Garland-Waide Bradford has a career path that has varied from corporate work as a public relations manager in communications strategy to media work as an insert producer for factual television. These were purposeful choices to understand how to integrate creative choices with market requirements in turning content into brands. Growing up in a township meant that these educational opportunities were out of reach due to access and financial constraints. But, having paid his dues through work, Bradford is a dynamic thinker who owns a skills set that is third industrial revolution ready. He completed his BA Honours in Media Studies in 2017. His focus has been on media management and has been studying models of sustainability in the media for several years. He started his journey with the African Animation Network as Head of Communications in 2017 where he hopes to use his skills to empower aspirant animation professionals and member associations to further their global reach.
The leader in children’s animation in South Africa, Cartoon Network, invites African creators to submit their short-form comedy project in the first ever Cartoon Network creative venture run in Africa.
If there’sone thing Africans do really well, it is the ability to laugh at themselves! Taking advantage of Africans’ humorous streak, and incredible storytelling abilities, Cartoon Network Africa is proud to announce the launch of their brand new initiative, Cartoon Network Africa Creative Lab, an African venture designed to bring innovative, local short form content to the channel, and its digital platforms, while reinforcing the local relevance of the brand.
In this ground-breaking move, the leading network in the kids’ entertainment industry, Cartoon Network is taking another bold step in addressing the gap in locally relevant content which offers a viewing experience that resonates with its African audience. The initiative will encourage African talents: creators, writers, graphic artists, animation students … in fact anyone who loves kids’ content, to explore their creative, animation and production talents and have the chance to produce a short-form animated comedy to make Cartoon Network viewers across Africa laugh out loud!
“As sponsors of the Discop 2016 Animation Pitching Competition, we were exposed to some really inspiring local animation projects,” says Ariane Suveg, Head of programming and acquisition Turner kids Africa. “We were so impressed by Cape Town-based Punch Monkey Studio’s amazing creative energy in the winning entry, Cloud Life, that the project has been traveling through the Turner group and is now in a development process with the Turner Asia Pacific production team! This just reinforces our need to invest in local content and our commitment to further mentoring talent in the African animation industry.”
Entries for the Cartoon Network Africa Creative Lab will be open from 7th June until 31st August 2018 across the continent. African residents, aged 18 and over, or any African-based company, can submit their one-minute to three-minute creative short project which must be in the genre of comedy and fit with Cartoon Network’s values of funny, random, irreverent, smart and contemporary humour. Editorial guidelines can be found onwww.CartoonNetworkAfrica.com/CreativeLab.
Ten projects will be short-listed in September, and the local creators will get the opportunity to pitch their work to Cartoon Network Africa’s content programming team. The winner and two runners-up will then be revealed at DISCOP Johannesburg at the end of the year.
The winner and runners-up will be given the opportunity to get their project produced as a pilot with Cartoon Network Africa which will then premiere on Cartoon Network Africa and its digital platforms in 2019.
“We are honoured to be supporting local African animation talent through the Cartoon Network Africa Creative Lab. We look forward to seeing the entries and hope to see the winners flourish in their career as content creators, following the footsteps of some of Cartoon Network’s greatest talents.” concludes Ariane Suveg.
The African Animation Network (AAN), the pro-profit, talent-driven social enterprise, embarked on a journey 18 months ago to bridge the global animation community. And today, the first day of the Annecy International Animated Film Festival & Market (Annecy/MIFA), represents the accomplishment of this goal.
Imperial Palace, Annecy
AAN, as a pro-profit, talent-driven social enterprise, set an ambitious goal for itself when it was established 18 months ago. On the top of its priority list is, to create a place for its members on the global stage. Today, the first day of the Annecy International Animated Film Festival & Market (Annecy/MIFA), represents the accomplishment of this goal.
Ourcore mission is to empower African animators and build a sustainable sector for them to work in. Our strategy is built on on 4 key pillars, i.e. skills development, access to audience (which leads to revenue generation), investment partnerships, and intellectual propertyownership.
To facilitate this core mission AAN has created a plethora ofopen networks that allow a wide diversity of African animation professionals and organisations to participate in its events and initiatives and create and distribute content. These include; Animation Unites Africa, Annecy – MIFA Pitches Animation du Monde, Annecy – MIFA Animation du Monde – Skills Programme, African Animation Network SVOD Mobile Channel, FupiToons Festival and the African Animation Network Digital Publication.
The African Animation Network Booth @ Annecy
AAN’s quarter-on-quarter, double digit growthis as a result of 2 key partnerships. Firstly, with the foremost content market in Africa, DISCOP Markets. And, secondly, with the [biggest and] most prestigious animation festival and market in the world, Annecy/MIFA. It is through their support that AAN has been able to interface with key decision makers in the African and global content and animation industries whilst simultaneously raising the profile and validating AAN and its institutional partners.
Animation du Monde:
Perhaps the biggest testament to AAN’s core mission and validation for its efforts is the fact that AAN is a custodian of the Annecy – MIFA Pitches Animation du Monde brand in Africa. This is the foremost talent identification and skills development platform globally with a very high percentage of projects pitched at Annecy/MIFApitch platforms finding the investment and co-production partners to further develop and produce their content.
After a tense round of pitches @ DISCOP Abidjan, the top 2 projects selected to compete in the continental final of the Annecy – MIFA Pitches Animation du Monde are announced by AAN.
Koka Kitoumbou represented by Shikartoon (Congo Braza) through to continental final of Annecy – MIFA Pitches Animation du Monde @ DISCOMICS Joburg
The second edition of the Annecy – MIFA Pitches Animation du Monde, made possible through a continued partnership between Annecy Int. Animated Film Festival and Market/MIFA (Annecy/MIFA) and the African Animation Network (AAN), kicked off on Tuesday 29 May, 2018.
5 projects went head-to-head for the honour of competing in the continental final to be held at DISCOMICS Joburg (14-17 November). The quality of projects and pitches was high but, ultimately only 2 projects could be selected and the judges’ decision was unanimous.
The 2 projects (in no particular order) are:
Étincellerepresented by Ouassila Kharoune (Burkina Faso)
Koka Kitoumbou represented by Shikartoon (Congo Braza)
DISCOP Abidjan, which has a strong focus on Francophone West Africa animation throughpartnerships with AIFA and ABCA– 2 of the leading animation associations in the region, is the first of 5 events in Africa hosting a regional round of the Annecy – MIFA Pitches Animation du Monde. The expanded footprint of events is made possible through a partnership with DISCOMICS. DISCOMICS is a new enterprise founded by DISCOP Markets and AAN in partnership with ICON Comics & Gaming Convention (ICON CGC), Lagos Comic Con (LCC) and Nairobi Comic Con (NAICCON).
2 projects will be selected from each event and invited to attend the continental Grand Finale at DISCOMICS Joburg (14-17 November):
ICON CGC, Johannesburg, South Africa, 29 June – 01 July (NB: Entries open 8 May & close 8am 28 June: register HERE)
DISCOP Zanzibar, Tanzania, 11 July – 13 July (NB: Entries open 31 May & close 27 June: register HERE)
NAICCON, Nairobi, Kenya, 11 August – 12 August (NB: Entries open 20 June & close 20 July: register HERE)
LCC, Lagos, Nigeria, 15 September (NB: Entries open 24 July & close 24 August: register HERE)
At the Grand Finale at DISCOMICS Joburg 2 projects will be selected to represent Africa and compete against their global counterparts at Annecy/MIFA 2019.
Perhaps the biggest value for entrants who proceed to the Grand Finale at DISCOMICS Joburg is the Annecy MIFA – Animation du Monde – Skills Programme which includes pitching workshops, training sessions and one-on-one meetings with 3 industry experts selected by Annecy/MIFA ahead of the Grand Finale.
Après une série de pitchs tendus à DISCOP Abidjan, les 2 projets sélectionnés pour participer aux Pitch d’Annecy – MIFA World Animation sont annoncés.
Étincelle represented by Ouassila Kharoune (Burkina Faso) through to the continental final of Annecy – MIFA Pitches Animation du Monde @ DISCOMICS Joburg
La deuxième édition des Annecy – MIFA Pitches Animation du Monde, rendue possible grâce à un partenariat entre Annecy Int. Le Festival du Film d’Animation et Marché / MIFA (Annecy / MIFA) et l’African Animation Network (AAN) ont débuté mardi 29 Mai, 2018.
Cinq projets ont compéti en tête-à-tête pour l’honneur de participer à la finale continentale qui se tiendra à DISCOMICS Joburg (14-17 Novembre). La qualité des projets et des pitchs était élevée et seuls deux projets pouvaient être sélectionnés.
Les 2 projets (sans ordre particulier) sont:
Étincelle représenté par Ouassila Kharoune (Burkina Faso)
Koka Kitoumbou représenté par Shikartoon (Congo Braza)
Le DISCOP Abidjan, fortement axé sur l’animation francophone en Afrique de l’Ouest à travers despartenariats avec l’AIFA et l’ABCA– 2 des principales associations d’animation de la région, est le premier des 5 événements en Afrique à accueillir une tournée régionale Annecy – MIFA Pitches Animation du Monde. L’extension de l’empreinte des événements est rendue possible grâce à un partenariat avec DISCOMICS.DISCOMICS est une nouvelle entreprise fondée par DISCOP Markets et AAN en partenariat avec ICON Comics & Gaming Convention (ICON CGC), Lagos Comic Con (LCC) et Nairobi Comic Con (NAICCON).
2 projets seront sélectionnés pour chaque événement et invités à assister à la Grande Finale continentale au DISCOMICS Joburg (14-17 Novembre):
ICON CGC, Johannesburg, Afrique du Sud, 29 Juin – 1er Juillet (NB: les inscriptions sont ouvertes depuis le 8 Mai et se terminent le 22 Juin: inscrivez-vousICI)
DISCOP Zanzibar, Tanzanie, 11 Juillet – 13 Juillet (NB: les inscriptions sont ouvertes depuis le 31 Mai et se terminent le 27 Juin: inscriptionICI)
NAICCON, Nairobi, Kenya, 11 Août – 12 Août (NB: les inscriptions seront ouvertes le 20 Juin et se terminent le 20 Juillet: inscriptionICI)
LCC, Lagos, Nigeria, 15 septembre (NB: les inscriptions seront ouvertes le 24 Juillet et se terminent le24 Août: inscriptionICI)
Lors de la Grande Finale à DISCOMICS Joburg, 2 projets seront sélectionnés pour représenter l’Afrique et rivaliser avec leurs homologues mondiaux à Annecy / MIFA 2019.
DÉVELOPPEMENT DE COMPÉTENCES:
Le Annecy MIFA – Animation du Monde – Skills Programme qui comprend des ateliers de pitching, des sessions de formation et des rencontres individuelles avec 3 experts sélectionnés par Annecy / MIFA est sans doute la plus grande valeur pour les participants au Grande Finale de DISCOMICS Joburg.