Triggerfish/DisneyTwo months ago, with the support of the South African Department of Trade and Industry (the DTI) and The Walt Disney Company, South Africa’s Triggerfish Animation Studios announced that it was establishing The Triggerfish Story Lab, with an investment of up to $3.5 million over the next three years, with aims to give continental Africa’s most talented storytellers and filmmakers the opportunity to develop their ideas alongside Triggerfish’s international network of mentors. Program participants were to be carefully selected – following a continent-wide search for storytellers – based not only on the creative and commercial merits of their concepts, but also on their track records. In the end, their concepts may be developed into episodic TV content, or animated feature films for the global market.

Entries were to be evaluated by a high-profile panel of both local and international experts, including British director and co-founder of Aardman Peter Lord ("Chicken Run," "The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists"), Hollywood writer Jonathan Roberts ("The Lion King") and script consultant Karl Iglesias ("Writing For Emotional Impact"), and  a panel of development executives from The Walt Disney Company, as well as South African storyteller Gcina Mhlope, comedian David Kau and Triggerfish’s development team of Anthony Silverston, Wayne Thornley and Raffaella Delle Donne.

Two months later, Triggefish has announced that the contest received a healthy 1,378 entries (1174 feature submissions, and 204 TV series submissions.) from storytellers and filmmakers representing 30 countries across Africa and its diaspora!

The above panel of industry professionals will now evaluate the entries.

When I told people I expected over 1,000 submissions from across Africa, everyone laughed at me. Ha! Now who’s laughing? Oh wait, I have to read all of these…” says Anthony Silverston, head of development at Triggerfish Animation Studios.  

Shortlisted storytellers will take part in workshops in November, with leading Hollywood 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 television executives at Disney’s headquarters in Burbank, California.

For each phase of development, Triggerfish will provide financial support, workspace, and expert guidance by internal and international consultants and mentors, as well as a route to market through top-tier relationships with Hollywood agency William Morris Endeavor.

Animation has proven to be a successful medium for South African films to travel internationally, with Triggerfish’s films "Adventures in Zambezia" and "Khumba" being distributed in over 150 countries and dubbed into over 27 languages.

“We are ready to bring a fresh voice to the world,” said Silverston a couple of months ago. “We believe there is extraordinary talent in Africa and the Story Lab is the perfect way to partner with them.”

After final pitches in November, Triggerfish will announce the final Story Lab participants in December 2015.

For more information, keep an eye on