Dam big animation project

By Atiyyah Khan Time of article published Mar 12, 2016

Share this article:

In South Africa, any medium that promotes telling our own stories should be celebrated. Breaking down the inferiority complex of homegrown is a daily struggle. The Blue Forest Collective, the young Cape Town-based team behind groundbreaking animation project Kariba, is working on this mission.

Originally conceived as a 2D animated film, Kariba is many things. It exists as an animated trailer and is on its way to becoming a graphic novel, followed by a feature film. In April last year, a trailer for the feature surfaced reaching over 250 000 views and positive reviews online as well as from the industry.

This led Blue Forest to take the next step in developing a storyline in the form of a graphic novel. This month, the collective launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the graphic novel and were shocked to reach their target of $20 000 in under two days, most of the money coming from South African backers.

The idea behind the project originated with visual artist Daniel Clarke, who remembers stories told to him as a child by his grandfather, who is from Zimbabwe. The stories were about mythical legends and the Kariba dam. Clarke said: “My grandfather worked on the surrounding buildings of the dam and my mother is from Zimbabwe, so I heard those stories as a kid.”

The story of Kariba revolves around the construction of the dam in the 1950s constantly being undermined by the river god Nyami Nyami, angry that the dam has separated him from his wife.

Clarke collaborated with his friend, director and animator Daniel Snaddon, first starting off with a series of paintings. The two worked nights and weekends, drawing on the help of friends and other connections to help them create a trailer.

Clarke said the initial aim had been for it to be 12 seconds long, but it developed into a much longer trailer. The work took months to complete. After a positive response was received, the trailer was pitched at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, held annually in France. This led the collective to realise that a storyline and script needed to be developed.

Instead of writing a screenplay for a film, the collective decided on a graphic novel as a way to do this, so it serves as both script and design development.

Clarke said: “The idea for the graphic novel came about because it’s much lower risk; there are fewer people involved and it’s cheaper.”

Snaddon added: “We thought about how to make use of our combined talents, but also wanted to have something to show for it afterwards. People will read a graphic novel, versus picking up a script.”

The Kickstarter success is a major confidence-booster for the team, who are incredibly thankful. Clarke and Snaddon work for the established animation studio, Triggerfish, which has pledged to make available 50 percent of the funds raised for the graphic novel.

Stuart Forrest, CEO of Triggerfish said: “Both Daniels are some of our brightest stars and have worked with us before, so when we saw this project we got excited about it. The creativity, storytelling and the visual design thus far was all so stunning that we wanted to get involved so that we could have the option to make it into a movie once it’s finished.”

The relationship will be a long-term one, in the sense that Triggerfish hopes to see Kariba through to being produced as a feature film from the graphic novel.

The idea of crowdfunding made sense to the collective, based on the response they have received thus far. For the campaign, the collective appealed to all their friends and family to help spread the word.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by how generous everyone has been and it’s hugely humbling,” said Snaddon.

The graphic novel is planned to be released next year in February, followed by plans to translate the novel into a full-length feature film.

Forrest said: “We’re all about telling stories from here and telling different stories, so that’s why we are excited to be involved. We think there is an appetite throughout the world for well-told stories from different perspectives. There’s also an increasing awareness for diverse voices in animation.”

Clarke and Snaddon said they find huge inspiration in the work of Japanese film-maker Hayao Miyazaki.

The collective is hoping to put together a team of 2D animation artists for the production of the film. Aside from co-director Snaddon and director Clarke, the Blue Forest Collective team is completed by Jac Hamman as animation director and Sarah Scrimgeour as digital strategist.

l The Kickstarter campaign runs until the end of March, and is still open for contribitions. See www.karibamovie.com. Twitter: @karibamovie and Instagram @blueforestcollective.

Share this article: