Sometime in August 2019 three filmmakers from Ghana received the same good news: we were to be the recipients of the Film Africa Travel Grants! This meant we – two animators and one producer – would be taking our films to the Encounters Film Festival in Bristol, the UK’s leading short film, animation and virtual reality festival. Below we share the highlights of our participation at Encounters, our main take-aways and our plans for the near future.
I am a freelance producer, working mostly on television commercials and documentaries in Ghana. The Fisherman is the first short film I produced and it had been making the rounds in the international festival circuit. I had always wanted to go to some of the festivals it was selected in, but couldn’t make it due to financial constraints. Zoey Martinson, The Fisherman’s director came across the Film Africa Travel Grants after our film was accepted into Encounters and I applied. I was very excited when I got the news that I got it as it was going to be the first time I would be present when my film was being shown before an international audience.
Attending Encounters was a very enriching experience and it was really affirming to be able to share it with my fellow Ghanaian creatives. The Fisherman was screened to a sold-out crowd and the feedback from the audience was truly humbling. I was amazed to see that the humour came across exactly as I had hoped for. The festival was very well organised as a whole, the workshops I took part in were very insightful and the other screenings I attended were fantastic. It was also really gratifying meeting the two Film Africa reps who supported our film during the awards night. Even though it didn’t win, it was a wonderful gesture that will stay with me.
Visiting the world-famous Aardman Animations Studio, thanks to the kind hospitality of the Encounters team, was also an unforgettable experience. Learning how the idea started from a kitchen table to what is now lit a fire in all of us. It made me realise that with perseverance and discipline, as far as you believe in your dreams, they can come true. I have come back home feeling inspired to continue to build a worthy film industry in Ghana. I’m already looking forward to collaborating with one of the other animators from Ghana on a project when she returns back home and I have another short film due to start production before the end of the year in collaboration with a UK-based filmmaker who I met on my trip.
I’m the Co-founder and Creative Director at Laugh Out Loud Ghana (LOLGH), an animation studio dedicated to providing humor and entertainment through the comics and cartoons we create.
I was excited when I learnt my film S.C.U.M. was selected to be screened at Encounters, but was blown away when I received the grant from the Film Africa Travel Grants, which meant I would actually be able to attend the festival. I unfortunately missed my screening due to some complications with my UK visa application, but I still managed to make the most of my participation at Encounters. I got to network with filmmakers and producers from all over the world and got to see things from a different perspective. I also had the opportunity to visit two of the biggest animation studios in the UK – Aardman Animations in Bristol and the Line Animation Studio in London. These visits were a very insightful experience and are now guiding me in building my animation studio back home.
Most importantly is the relationship I built with my fellow Ghanaians who joined me on the trip. I learned a lot from them and we shared our goals and visions. It was really encouraging to see that I am not alone on this creative path and that there are people who understand and are ready to help. Overall the experience was pretty awesome. I think more African filmmakers need to be given this opportunity to experience what I felt.
I am a freelance illustrator and animator from Ghana. Two years ago, I made my first animated short film, entitled Flower. The film had been screened in film festivals around the world, but I’d never had the chance to attend any of them until this year, when I attended Encounters Film Festival with support from the Film Africa Travel Grants. I heard about the Travel Grants scheme from a friend and decided to apply. A few weeks later, I got the good news that I was getting a grant and I was going to Bristol!
I got to Bristol just 30 minutes ahead of my film screening and I went straight to the venue, which was buzzing with excitement and activity. The crowded halls were filled with filmmakers, producers, writers, distributors, all wearing name tags and having hearty conversations. We were ushered into the cinema where our films, all African animation shorts, were being screened. There were only two of us animators present and I felt so lucky. Rich Warren, the festival director, introduced us to the audience and after the screening, a few people came up to me to talk about my film. It felt amazing!
Throughout the festival I saw amazing films, talked to some talented filmmakers and even made friends with some of them. My highlight, however, was when we went on a tour of the famous Aardman Animations Studios. As an animator, this experience was just invaluable. We saw how Wallace and Gromit movies are made and learned about the history of the studio in depth.
Encounters was very insightful, eye-opening and exciting. Held in Bristol, the hometown of graffiti artist Banksy, we were surrounded by all his inspiring street art, new ideas and perspectives. There was not a dull moment. The experience has changed the way I see film and how I approach storytelling and I’ve returned full of inspiration. I’m already working on my next project – a kid’s animated TV series titled The Jujucups, which will hopefully be ready next year.