The Nigerian Animation Film Making Industry Gets a Boost: A Childhood Dream Materializes
SHRINKFISH Ltd, a newly incorporated Animation and Media Studios in Abuja, Nigeria has just one long standing intention: to substantially bring a change to the animation film making industry in Africa starting from Nigeria.
In 2009, the UN cultural organisation UNESCO, said that the Nigerian film making industry known as Nollywood was now the second-biggest film industry in the world thus pushing it one more rung up the ladder from the statistics of the previous year. Despite that, one can legitimately ask: "Where is Animation?"
This question is the major reason why Shrinkfish® was born. The company's 'history' goes back more than three decades before its incorporation in 2009. The driving force is Mr. Ifeanacho Okoye, who though without a film-making background, has gone that extra step to support a childhood dream and passion as embodied by Ebele Okoye.
Listening to the background information as being told by Mrs. Okoye, one cannot but say that the emergence of the company is a true result of perseverance and hard work. Mrs Okoye who grew up in the south eastern part of Nigeria says that Story-telling had always been part of her 'communal life'. Hear her:
"These stories were mostly handed down orally. As a child whose biggest companions were the characters in 'Charlie Brown' comics, I developed a very strong urge to extend this companionship to involve the heroes in my orally‐handed‐down stories told mostly by moonlight or around a crackling fire. I yearned for a medium through which I could share these heroes with "the rest of the world". These yearnings solidified my dreams of going into animation film‐making. However, due to the absence of film schools in Nigeria at that time, this dream could not materialize, so I studied Graphic design/Illustration after which I started looking for ways and places to gain knowledge in animation film‐making"
This knowledge was finally found more than three decades later at the International Film School Cologne, Germany through an intensive training in 2D Animation under well-known Names in Animation like Jimi Murakami ('A Christmas Carol') and the Oscar winning Michael Dudok de Wit ('Father and Daughter').
Through a strong urge to put motivation, experiences and goals in one basket, Shrinkfish® was founded in October 2009 by group individuals who share the passion and conviction of animation being a great channel for a cross‐cultural exchange.
According to Mrs. Okoye, the main goal at Shrinkfish® is to contribute to the African film‐making industry through animation and create cultural and creative awareness through cinematographic interpretations which lie within the realms of the current globalized social lifestyles while finding inspiration in the African folk Tales and the African society as a whole.
Asked how they intend to bring this through in a constellation like Nollywood where Animation has not yet received recognition, Mrs Okoye says:
"We know that it is not easy to promote animation -especially 2D- in this part of the world where people are more likely to relate with things that 'glitter', yet we are taking it step by step in seeing that we reach our goals. We have finished two shorts since October 2009 and are currently developing our first major production titled "The Legacy of Rubies", a 25-minutes short film inspired by African Folk tales"
The very first of such numerous planned productions titled "The Legacy of Rubies", will be kicking off in February 2011 using 100% local manpower. The production will be preceded by a hands-on training for 2D Animators. They hope that the production will inspire other film makers of African origin but specifically Nigerians to take bolder steps towards Animation, as a means of expression, which has a promising future in the African film‐making industry, especially in consideration of the fact that in film festivals in places like Europe, Asia and North America, animation films which are based on African stories or are playing in the African environment are either underrepresented or totally missing.
Having put into good consideration the numerous hurdles in the Nigerian social environment which do affect the productivity, Shrinkfish is structured in a way which allows the independent producers work at their own pace, yet with non-stop motivation and support under the supervision and management of a top African and European team whose experiences in film, television, Internet and print media go back to over 15 years.
Shrinkfish® is also involved in other aspects of animation like Music Videos, Dynamic content animation for Corporate Identity, Branding, Advertisement solutions, Internet,Training Films and Multimedia Presentations, not leaving out Personalized Packages.
In partnership with other bodies, they are also engaged in sustainable Training initiatives for children of very poor backgrounds, who are talented in the art of visual story-telling. The Pilot Project CCDI (Children Content Development Initiative) is being run globally in partnership with Nondyk Ventures based in South Africa.