Tribe Animation Series : Great Scripting Advice for Aspirant Animators

Tendayi Nyeke Gets Naturally Inspired For Zimbabwe's Animation Bible

Tribe Animation Series is a project between animator (Tino Makoni) and Script Writer (Tendayi Nyeke)  focused on developing the script writing skills in the Zimbabwean Animation Sector. The project, which is supported by the British Council, teams the young creatives with UK based mentor Script Writer Carol Russell whose work has been broadcasted on the BBC, ITV and Granada Television (to mention a few). The Project’s aim is to produce an animation series bible, a visual look book, pilot script and trailer; to facilitate sharing what’s been learnt with aspiring animation writers and artists for replication for future standalone programs in Zimbabwe and beyond.

We caught up with South Africa based Tendayi Nyeke who has written, produced and directed television programs across South Africa’s major broadcasters. Here are some of the great creative-nuggets uncovered on her journey with Tribe Animation Series so far.

The first phase of the project is research and since the animation series is based on Southern African history and mythology, I needed to learn more about it. I’ve been reading books, searching the internet and was fortunate to win a grant that took me to the Drakensberg Mountains where there is the richest range of San rock art which will inform my story.

The photos I took will help the animator design a close to authentic world as he will use these as reference. They will help me the writer as well, write about a place I’ve seen and walked in and base some of the plot points on reality.

One thing my British mentor encouraged was for me to study more writing theory, so I found some online videos and script writing websites to help me structure a pilot.

Some tips you can take in structuring a 24 minute episode. The first is that it must be split into acts with escalating complexity.

The pilot is meant to lure potential investors and audiences to want to see more, which is what will get them to pay to produce the series. Here are some guidelines on how your acts should be written:

Act 1 – Introduce the world then present the problem (first commercial break)

Act 2 – Escalations, expand world, increase the weight of the challenges, end with a plot turn/ new information (commercial break)

Act 3 – ticking clock, the challenge must be solved in a certain amount of time and time is running out, characters reveal themselves even more under pressure, moment of victory – present new challenge (end).

I hope this helps you as much as it helps me.

Here’s a video of both Tendayi and Tino as they explain ‘Tribe Animation Series’. You can find out more about the British Council’s exciting ‘Making More Art Happen’ Projects here or by following the #ArtsZWUK hashtag on Facebook & Twitter.


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