Stories from the Continent: Triggerfish launches Story Lab, an animation competition with US$3.5 million of investment over 3 years

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2019 - Triggerfish StoryLab

Cape Town’s Triggerfish Animation Studios has been ploughing a lonely furrow. It has produced two commercially successful, feature length animation films. It now wants to scale up and work with others who want to create African stories for the global market. Russell Southwood spoke to Stuart Forrest, CEO of Triggerfish about what Story Lab aims to do and who it’s partnered with to make it happen.

According to Forrest, the idea for Story Lab was about addressing the need for script development. Triggerfish has the production facilities and the ability to produce at a global level but needed more stories to develop,

“With that problem, we approached the DTI about getting funding for script development. They were very much on board and agreed to partner with us on a Story Lab. We want to look for the best writers and directors with truly original stories.” The DTI is putting up most of the US$3.5 million.

“We approached Disney to see what they were looking for in practical terms. It was looking for diversity and liked the idea of funding talent from a new part of the world. Their involvement is quite light touch at this stage. We want to tap into the development teams working at Burbank and they might develop with us.”

Applications are welcome from all writing and creative disciplines, not just experienced film and TV screenwriters. Applicants must be over 21 and either African citizens or permanent residents. Entries must be in English. Entries close 31 August 2015. Full guidelines and an online application form are available at 

Triggerfish will workshop with the 20 best applicants with a scriptwriting consultant and the entries developed in this way will go before a panel of international judges. Shortlisted storytellers will take part in workshops with leading Hollywood script consultant Pilar Alessandra, author of The Coffee Break Screenwriter.

It’s then looking for 6 final entries where the applicants have demonstrated “a passion and a talent for storytelling,” and help develop them into a marketable product:”We want something we can shop to the market and raise funding for.”

2019 - Triggerfish Studios Stuart Forrest

The entries will be evaluated by a high-profile panel of both local and international experts, including British director and co-founder of Aardman Peter Lord (Chicken Run, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists), Hollywood writer Jonathan Roberts (The Lion King) and script consultant Karl Iglesias (Writing For Emotional Impact), and a panel of development executives from The Walt Disney Company, as well as South African storyteller Gcina Mhlope, comedian David Kau and Triggerfish’s development team of Anthony Silverston, Wayne Thornley and Raffaella Delle Donne.

The development process can take a number of years. For each phase of development, Triggerfish will provide financial support, workspace, and expert guidance by internal and international consultants and mentors, as well as a route to market through top-tier relationships with Hollywood agency William Morris Endeavor.

So what do potential competition entrants need to know?:”We believe that talent is equally disposed all over the world….We’re approaching this with a very market-oriented approach. It is a unique challenge and we’re looking for those who can go beyond their own personal artistic goals with work that is audience-focused. Anfd they bring originality into that.”

Watch Stuart Forrest, Triggerfish Studios talk about the release of its second animation feature Khumba and its new slate

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