Finweek recently sat down with Triggerfish CEO Stuart Forrest. Read the full conversation here:
He’s the governing force behind the highest-grossing SA-owned film since the Eighties, and his production company just secured the development funding for two films as part of a five film slate, which we reckon makes him one of the most successful producers in the country, if not the entire continent. We spoke to Triggerfish CEO Stuart Forrest about the South African film industry, pitching to venture capital firms (VCs) and the one piece of advice he’ll give to anyone who will listen.
Riding on the success of their first two features, Adventures in Zambezia (Sony International Acquisitions) and Khumba (Millennium Entertainment), Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation has secured funding for the first phase of development for what aims to be a 5-film slate. The company continues to explore additional financing options and the possible sale of a stake to a strategic partner. Two of the films announced to go into development include Here be Monsters and Seal Team (working titles).
“We have a number of exciting properties in the pipeline,” says head of development Anthony Silverston, “But we’re particularly excited by these two highly original and exciting high concept stories. And although both stories have an ocean setting, they couldn’t be more different!”
Khumba animators and artists were invited to this year’s Kunjanimation Animation Festival 2013, to share their experiences at the Triggerfish studio with students, industry professionals and the general public in Johannesburg. This is the 3rd edition of the SA animation festival.
After a week of business-related Kunjanimation seminars, the last day appropriately rounded the festival off on a creative note with inspiring art-related discussions and seminars as well as the highly-anticipated Kunjanimation Exhibition – all hosted and catered for at the WITS School of Arts. The line-up included two talks on the making of Khumba.
Our CEO, Stuart Forrest, was invited this week to speak on a panel at DISCOP Africa. The panel on African Animation was shared with Strika CEO Richard Grenville, and EVCL founder Adamu Waziri, and moderated by Animation SA volunteer,and Khumba Animation Lead!) Daniel Snaddon. The panel explored some of the recent successes and ongoing challenges of animation in Africa. Asked what defined African animation, Forrest replied: “If it’s made in Africa, it’s African.”
The discussion highlighted the success of Zambezia worldwide, emphasising that the Triggerfish film was now the most successful South African owned film in thirty years. “If there is ever going to be a South African film that penetrates the mainstream cinema stage worldwide, it’s highly likely it’s going to be an animated film. Animation has the ability to transcend cultural barriers and overcome many of the challenges that face live-action films.”
Defending the use of Hollywood-based actors, Forrest acknowledged that the choice to go to Hollywood was difficult. “But considering that only 4% of our revenue model comes from Africa, we need to be thinking globally about how to make the product internationally as entertaining as possible. On Zambezia we auditioned 1,000 people from South Africa and 1,000 people from Hollywood, and we chose the voices that best fit the character we were casting for. In most cases, the Hollywood actors extensive experience shone through. “ Besides, South Africans will also be able to watch Khumba in Afrikaans or Zulu and Triggerfish aims to dub their films into more African languages in the future.
In a panel later that day, Copper Monkey director Charlie Frost used Khumba as a great example of a winning brand partnership, citing the Wimpy collaboration where the quick service restuaurant chain launched a highly successful campaign coinciding with the release of Khumba. Copper Monkey secured promotional partnerships for Khumba with Green Cross, Virgin active and Nal’iBali.