Africa's film-makers need to use all the new media tricks in the tool box to attract both funding and attention. Nick Wilson's adult animation series My Child: Teenage Mutant Azanians has been several years in the works but looks set to break through. Russell Southwood spoke to him about his plans to raise its pre-production budget.
My Child: Teenage Mutant Azanians is premised on Professor Afronaut, Africa's top technocrat, taking on the maiden voyage of his and Africa's first space tourism program, Africa's top leaders and celebrities. Whilst in flight a cunning chimpanzee is released from his cage in stowage and in the ensuing bedlam the chimp bites the spacecraft's nuclear stabilizer. There is an almighty atomic explosion and all these leaders and celebrities are cross-mutated with adolescent animals.
These animal-human hybrids return to Earth and, viewed as an abomination of society, are exiled to the land of Azania. It is here that Professor Afronaut founds the Nelson Mandela School for Gifted Mutants with melodrama and comedy playing out amongst the characters with very different backgrounds and divergent personalities. My Child: Teenage Mutant Azanians is Africa's answer to South Park, Family Guy and Adult Swim.
In order to raise money for it, Nick Wilson has a campaign plan that uses both social media and crowdfunding. Last week it was the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, where Wilson went as part of a South African delegation under the title Ainmation South Africa, consisting of 36 companies. Wilson is Chair of the Export Mission Committee.
Alongside events, Wilson has built a relationship with Gareth Cliff's internet radio station CliffCentral:"We've been in discussions with them for a year. It's an online radio station but it wants to become a content hub. They're our radio partner and we've got a non-exclusive digital licence deal with them."
Any content put out on the platform will get a live read out and in the five weeks running up to the launch there will be a series of teaser pieces of content. The pilot will be launched with 3 mobisodes and one of the character voices in the series, South African comedian Trevor Gumbi has a show on CliffCentral and will do a live phone in to launch its crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo:"We're also in discussion with several broadcasters in Sub-Saharan African to do a full broadcast and alongside that have discussions with sponsors."
My Child's "transmedia launch" as Wilson tags it will be at the MIPCOM trade show in the autumn (6-8 October 2015):"Trevor Gumbi will be at MIPCOM and all his antics will be packaged into podcasts over the 7 weeks of the campaign, with one per week. It will be part entertainment, part infomercial. There will be merchandise including caps, T-shirts, hoodies and comic books and we'll be demo-ing these on the podcasts."
Rapid Blue Digital have developed augmented reality software that allows you to download an app which has image recognition that can scan codes on the merchandise which will allow you to get unique content:"Early adopters will be our first screen and they will get access before any other platforms."
The Indiegogo campaign that all this social media razzmatazz is designed to support will be looking to raise some part of a target of US$800,000 to do a whole series. As part of our small-scale investments in African crowdfunding projects, we will be supporting it:"We're hoping to raise the budget for pre-production and get an audience of 35,000 who we can sell the merchandise to." Another 60-70% of the production budget will be raised through branding and sponsorship.
My Child TV (Pty) LTD and Artha Animation have the first co-production deal for an animated TV series and an animated short film between South Africa and India:"My Child TV (Pty) LTD is particularly good at pre- and post-production whilst Artha Animation has experience in scaled production pipelines. It is because of these synergies that we are excited about this partnership and we are further excited by the knowledge and skill transfer that will naturally happen. This is a great opportunity for job creation in both India and South Africa."
Watch Nick Wilson on Africa's answer to South Park - My Child: Teenage Mutant Azanians https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Drv0c2Qok0Q