South African animation series makes mark in Africa

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SOUTH African-made animated children’s television series Jabu’s Jungle is to be broadcast in 22 African countries.

The series was developed in Cape Town using an unusual production method that saw youths from a township partnered with experienced animators. It has been bought by French television network Gulli Africa, to be dubbed into French and distributed in Francophone Africa.

Meanwhile, production company Pixcomm has started work on a second series — the first comprises 13 22-minute episodes in which a nine-year-old boy, Jabu, has various adventures with a range of African animals. The show is to be screened in South Africa by the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

Jabu’s Jungle was created at Pixcomm’s studio, on the fringes of Masiphumelele near Kommetjie, Cape Town. There a nongovernmental organisation, The Movement, matches interns with skilled animators and other production staff, to develop local artistic talent.

"In full production we had about six or so interns at various stages doing various things," says filmmaker Roger Hawkins. While the NGO is in the process of being accredited as an official training centre by the Department of Higher Education and Training, Mr Hawkins says his experience is that "all people want to know is what work you have done" and that what counts in favour of someone applying for a job is that they have worked on a successful production. "Some of the interns have gone on to other employment."

One of these is Mlululeki Manyase, who is now working at a small television studio in the Eastern Cape. Manyase arrived at The Movement with a three-year design and animation diploma under his belt, and was the background artist for Jabu’s Jungle. "It’s a very cool project," he says. "I had most of the skills (needed), but it was a platform (for me to move on)."

Finding interns has been "quite organic", says Hawkins. "Word got out. If you had an interest in animation, come and see us."

He admits The Movement’s laid back selection process has to change. "We tried to have a few open computers, and we let (young people) come and fiddle around. If they kept coming, we would try to fit them in somewhere. That process has produced some gems, but we have realised we need to try to be a bit more organised. We also need accreditation (from the Department of Higher Education and Training). We are aiming at NQF (National Qualifications Framework) 5 or 6."

The NQF is a framework through which education and training standards and qualifications are registered.

Hawkins says he is "very chuffed" that the first Jabu’s Jungle series is to be broadcast so widely across Africa. It was launched last year at an animation festival in Cannes, France.
Source: BD Live 8 March 2016