Looking for SA’s best animators
Triggerfish chief says online learning can open the field
Port Elizabeth-born Stuart Forrest is making huge strides in the animation industry and is now looking to unearth Africa’s most talented and passionate animators.
Forrest, 48, of Lorraine, who attended Victoria Park High School, is now the CEO of Cape Town-based film and entertainment company Triggerfish Animation Studios.
Forrest said he thoroughly enjoyed coming back to Port Elizabeth once a year to visit family, friends and the “worldclass beaches”.
Established in 1996, Triggerfish has produced two of the top five highest-grossing South African feature films of all time.
This is Adventures in Zambezia (2012) and Khumba (2013), which have been licensed to be screened in 160 countries and translated into 25 languages.
Earlier this year, Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, a production for which Triggerfish provided animation, was nominated for an Oscar and won more than 15 international awards.
These included the International Emmy Awards Kids: Animation prize; the Crystal at Annecy; Best Animated Special at the Annie Awards; Best OneOff Special at Kidscreen; and Best Animation at the Bafta Children’s Awards.
But while creating “Oscar-winning” content was a critical focus for the company, bringing up young African artists is at the forefront of the company’s business model.
In partnership with the Goethe-Institut and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation, Triggerfish has developed a step-by-step guide, accessible from its website.
“The big problem is that the schools that do teach animation are very expensive. They are hard to get into and they can’t teach enough people.
“We are developing a curriculum for online learning in animation that has a particularly African focus.
“Our aim is to change the idea that Africa is poverty-stricken and limited, through animation.
“We are part of the movement that wants to show that there are no limits and we can actually provide Oscar-nominated quality productions,” Forrest said.
According to Forrest, the aspiring animators can use the tools provided by the academy to learn how to write and animate their own short stories, and then post their animations on YouTube.
“We are trying to get people to come up with stories. We want to draw more from other African countries and African people and we want to be able to introduce animation at school level,” Forrest said.
The winning animators, he said, will have their films screened at the Cape Town International Animation Festival in March 2019.
Forrest began working at Triggerfish about 18 years ago, and is now the largest shareholder at the company, which will have 170 employees by the middle of 2019.
He said his love for animation had been sparked when a friend of his, from Port Elizabeth, showed him a Wallace & Gromit movie in the 90s.
“It was the first time I had seen clay animation.
“I studied sculpture and photography, but I knew I always wanted to be a writer.
“In 1999, my girlfriend at the time, who was also from PE, and I entered a competition with Multichoice for a public service announcement, and we won that.
“And straight after that I was offered a job at Triggerfish.”
Triggerfish has also provided animation for three multi-award-winning BBC Christmas adaptations produced by Magic Light Pictures: Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Stick Man, Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes and The Highway Rat.