Disney, Triggerfish Launch Toon Story Lab

Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation Studios has announced the launch of the Triggerfish Story Lab, an initiative backed by South Africa’s Dept. of Trade and Industry and the Walt Disney Co.

Buoyed by the success of its feature-length toons “Adventures in Zambezia” and “Khumba,” which both rank among the top-five grossing South African films of all time, Triggerish will be investing up to R44 million ($3.5 million) over the next three years in the Story Lab.

The goal is to give the next generation of African animators a chance to develop their ideas alongside Triggerfish’s global network of mentors. Selected talent will have a chance to turn their projects into a TV series or animated feature with an eye toward the global market.

“We are ready to bring a fresh voice to the world,” says Anthony Silverston, head of development at Triggerfish. “We believe there is extraordinary talent in Africa, and the Story Lab is the perfect way to partner with them.”

Triggerfish has proven that African toons have legs overseas, with “Zambezia” and “Khumba,” above, being distributed in over 150 countries and dubbed into over 27 languages. Triggerfish CEO Stuart Forrest expressed hopes that the Story Lab would piggyback on that success and “be a great catalyst for African creativity on the global stage.”

Entries will be evaluated by a panel of both local and international experts, including British director and co-founder of Aardman, Peter Lord, writer Jonathan Roberts (“The Lion King”), script consultant Karl Iglesias (“Writing for Emotional Impact”), and a panel of development executives from the Walt Disney Co. South African reps include storyteller Gcina Mhlope, comedian David Kau, and Triggerfish’s development team of Silverston, Wayne Thornley and Raffaella Delle Donne.

Shortlisted entrants will take part in workshops with script consultant Pilar Alessandra, author of “The Coffee Break Screenwriter.”

The selected Story Lab participants will also receive two weeks of mentoring with key studio and TV execs at Disney’s Burbank, Calif., headquarters.

Triggerfish will provide financial support, a workspace and guidance for every stage of development, as well as a route to market through relationships with agency William Morris Endeavor.

Applicants must be over 21 and either African citizens or permanent residents. Entries must be in English. Entries close Aug. 31.

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