How we put together the “Animation SA Student Awards”


Two years of work and preparation finally paid off the other night, as Animation SA held its very first Student Competition at the Bioscope Independent Cinema in Johannesburg! David Whitehouse and myself have been working hard for 2 years pulling together funding and support for the competition, and I wanted to take a moment to talk about why, and how we did it.

In 2009 David and I were doing the rounds, visiting the animation schools and studios, trying to find simple, achievable ways to make a positive impact on the Johannesburg animation industry. The idea of a competition between animation schools was originally suggested by Christo Doherty, the head of the Wits School of Digital Arts, as a way of creating a touchstone between the schools and the industry. We took the idea to the other schools and studios and it received a lot of support.

In a brainstorming session with other Animation SA volunteers, we came up with a format for the competition, suggested prizes that would help further the careers of the winners, and started putting together proposals for funding the relevant agencies that we knew would be interested in supporting the competition.

The proposal to the NFVF took about 3 drafts with a lot of feedback from friends who had worked for NGOs (many thanks to Lucy Downs, Jacques Le Roux and Anna Fatti for the great input!) and had experience in applying for funding. It also took about 6 months to process as it did fit into any specific category of funding for the NFVF, being neither a film nor a festival. In the end though Lerato Mokopanele and her team got back to us, and gave us a grant that would cover most of the costs of the event, for which we are extremely grateful! Out of interest, and to save you time, here is a copy of the successful proposal. It should give you an indication of the level of detail that is required in an application.

Many thanks to the additional sponsorship that came from the local animation industry: Tim and Candice Argall of Bugbox Animation offered a year’s paid internship at their award winning animation studio, Shaun Froneman and BFX offered the generous prize of R5000′ worth of tutoring from FX PHD, and Judd Simantov offered a seat at his next workshop through his company Imaginari Animation.

Our next step was to put out a call for entries, which we did at an Animation Exchange at AFDA in November, and organize a panel of Judges for both Cape Town and Joburg. Many thanks to Shannan Taylor and David Hecker for organizing and managing the judging process, and to the two teams who selected our winners! Once the winners were selected, we put together montages of the best work that was entered, and fellow Triggerfish animator Stuart Coutts and I made a short intro for the competition.

The awards ceremony itself was fairly easy to organize. After talking to leading cinemas in Johannesburg, it was clear that the Bioscope was our first choice, as we were able to hire not only the cinema, but the Chalkboard Cafe for the same price as 1 cinema at one of the chains.

Many thanks Russel and Darryl at the Bioscope for the great venue, to Pippa Tshabalala from Vuzu’s “The Verge,” for hosting the evening.

A big congratulations to Jeanelize de Nys who won the grand prize of the trip to Annecy! Congratulations also to Kevin Van Den Oever who won prizes for Design and execution, and to Shane Marks for winning technical achievement!

Another big thanks Charl Smit who designed and built the floating trophy for the competition, currently being housed at The Animation School in Cape Town!

Going forward, we are planning to make the Animation SA Student Competition part of the Kunjani’mation festival, and extend the competition to professionals as well. Animation SA needs volunteers to make awesome stuff like this happen, so please get in touch with us through our website, the Animation Exchange events, or contacting us directly!

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