We sat down with Andrew John Phillips Creator of Intergalactic Ice Cream to talk about Cartoon Network Africa’s Creative Lab success and the role of local creators in African animation.
Andrew is a South African animation/writer based in Cape Town. Andrew has a passion for developing kids’ series projects and was recently named one of three winners of Cartoon Network’s Creative Lab. A year after announcing the Creative Lab winners, WarnerMedia revealed the winning shorts at DISCOP Johannesburg 2019. The initiative, which started in June 2018, as a pan-African call for pitch competition, not only had the ambition to find African talents and bring to life local story gems through animation but also unearth talent from a range of backgrounds. Creators, writers, graphic artists and animators all rose to the occasion to take a chance at bringing innovative content aligned with Cartoon Network’s brief to bring humor, craziness, randomness and absurdity, to make African kids laugh out loud.
Andrew what did winning this competition mean to you?
Winning meant I got to see my ridiculous idea come to life and get passed through the brains and hands of amazingly talented people – from the supportive Cartoon Network execs to the animation geniuses at Mind’s Eye Creative. The experience taught me a lot, and it’s helped me home in on what I really want to do with my time. As for my ‘future career’, it’s hard for me to think in those terms, but what I do know is that I’m hell-bent on working with awesome people to make stuff that excites me, stuff that’s meaningful but still crazy and funny. I want to wake up and do that every day. So, I will.
Where do you see the African animation industry in the new decade?
Africa is starting to gain momentum with both content in games and animation, I don’t know where I see the animation industry in South Africa in the next decade but I’m inspired by the young reckless creatives who aren’t complaining or waiting around for permission – the ones who just make awesome stuff and get it to an audience. The future belongs to them.
Advice to young Content creators?
I’m no authority to give advice, but for what it’s worth … Find people you love to work with and make stuff! Make lots of different things. If you cling to one pet project, it can become a dead weight that holds you back from creating the one that could be your big break. Don’t be afraid to share your stuff early and often. Take on criticism. Fail. Iterate. And repeat. It’s the only way to get better. Also, enter loads of competitions like the Cartoon Network Creative Lab. Contests offer focus and a deadline: two things usually help me kick into gear.
And another thing: if you want to make a TV show, but you hate public speaking or trying to “sell” an idea, it might be helpful to ditch the notion of “pushing through it”. You’ll never get through it. There is no other side. Animation is a team sport, so you’ll always have to pitch your ideas to other people – whether that’s your director, your board artists, or the execs who produce the whole thing. And even if you have a massively successful show, you’ll still have to pitch ideas for the next season if you want to keep it in production or start putting together a pitch for your next project. It never ends! For creators who want to operate within the system, life’s a pitch, so you may as well get good at it.
Alternatively, if you really hate pitching, which can be soul-destroying if that first lucky break just never comes, you can always say “to hell with the system!” and simply make the stuff you love, hoping you eventually find an audience willing to pay for it. Or do it for free because – hey – you’re doing what you love. Or you can let your viewers’ appetite shape what you create, which is more direct than adapting your pitch to suit the demands of big studios (who ultimately want the same thing – to give people the kind of quality entertainment they’re willing to pay for). Anyway, I don’t know much, but I know it’s never been easier to make animation, and the options for distribution have never been so diverse. So, if you’ve got a rock-hard backbone and a taste for adventure, you can stick it to the corporate system, bypass pitching altogether, and try launching your show as an independent creator.