Here is what Netflix is looking for in African animators

Netflix announced plans to invest in the African film industry back in 2018. 

Mama K’s Team 4 is Netflix's first original animated series from Africa (variety)

The announcement was made by the company's vice president of international originals, Erik Barmack, who revealed that an unspecified amount of original series would be commissioned in 2019.

According to him, Netflix's Europe team is "in the process of looking at opportunities in Africa. It's definitely the case that we'll commission some series there in…2019."

The American streaming platform has since kept its word by acquiring a couple of movies and shows from Africa including 'Mama K's Team 4', the first animated series from the continent.

What Netflix wants from African animators

Now, the company has revealed its desire to get more animation from the continent and other parts of the world as long as they have what it takes to get a Netflix deal.

Variety reports that these details were recently revealed during a Netflix Animation session titled 'A Studio Without Borders' at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in Annecy, France on Wednesday, June 12, 2019.

Speaking at the world's largest animation gathering, Melissa Cobb, the vice president of Kids & Family, who hosted the session, shared exactly what the streaming platform is looking.

In her words, "Great creators, who can execute their vision but we don't have any guidelines."

Most of the presentation was handled by a panel of Netflix animators who were able to offer some more insight. They are Kris Pearn, Malenga Mulendema, Elizabeth Ito and Producer Hitoshi Moji.

From their presentations, it was clear that they all had two things in common: a desire to focus on women's stories and do things differently from the now classic CG.

"I was interested in female characters who have their own ambitions," Mulendema, the Zambian creator of Netflix's first original animated series from Africa, said at Annecy.

Ito, a 15-year animation veteran, expressed her wish to do things differently as she showed the audience how she was able to mix 3D characters with 2D backgrounds.

Speaking with Variety at Annecy about her show , 'City of Ghosts', she said, "I guess there's never been a show made like this before. It's creating a new process, both story-wise and visually. Either one of those things would be challenging."

"Studios have established more of a system of doing stuff. But in Netflix you can do it in a different way," she concluded.

According to these Netflix animators, being different is definitely the way to go.


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