America

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Marc with a little ‘tap tap howzit Mick-dog’.

Hey guys. So much stuff to say, so instead of putting it all into one daunting post I’m gonna do piece by piece. Bit by bit we make it? Isn’t it? Bite-size chunks? Step by step we get there? Isn’t it? OH LISTEN HERE SAILOR, *IT IS*.

So, I recently went to the YOO ESS AYY ha! Nice! Why? Because why, I was one of the people lucky enough to get into the Triggerfish and Disney Storylab. What does this mean? Is it? It means that I got a trip to the USA, and we spent some rad time at Disney Studios. And it was amazing. So, what can I tell you about it? LET ME TELL YOU SOME THINGS HA HA. WOW. OK.

So, first things first – KIDSCREEN in Miami. What is that? Oh, it is an animation conference held in Miami, Florida. I’ve never been to Miami properly before, so, that was cool. Nice spot. Palm trees – I have a thing for palm trees, and there are lots of them there. Went running every morning, until I got pretty sick on the last day or two there and almost died on the plane to LA. Thank you Ant for giving me flu drugs on your birthday.

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Miami morning run.

But – the conference was pretty cool. It’s actually probably not really meant for a person such as me – more of a creative than a producer or executive, like Annecy is the spot if you wanna see cool animation. Anyways, glad to have gone. I did have fever nightmares of trying to herd execs in suits out a building whilst at the conference though. Some of the talks on the first and second day were great. I wrote down some take-aways:

There was a conference called ‘How To Control Your Creative’. The MC dude got up and said ‘Ok, firstly, this title is wrong. The job of a producer is to help a creative person interface with a creative business, and then get out of the way’. So, that guy was immediately my hero.

Fred Siebert from Frederator Studios (who greenlit the original ‘Adventure Time’ pilot) was like ‘wardup’. He was all about finding talent and letting that talent go where they want. His philosophy is ‘make what YOU want to make’. He reckons keeping your VOICE is so important, don’t lose that voice! Man. Whaddaguy. That’s the kind of funding I’d like. Instead I’m finding that my hands get tied, and that sometimes isn’t beneficial for the funder and I both. Anyways. I can always do my own stuff on my own budgets, so, that’s a thing.

Like the old Motown recording studios, he finds people that don’t quite fit in and creates the circumstances for them to succeed.

Fred found that people who wanted to succeed always do, and though he knows lots of talented people in the animation world, they may not have that drive.

In terms of driving a channel, he focuses on loyalty rather than numbers. He reckons the audience is ALL-important. And MOST importantly, get the audience involved. Have a conversation with the audience. He really pressed that this is so important. Huh. I may try do that.

Them this other talk had some amazing advice. If someone likes your show pitch, ask that person ‘what do you like about my show?’ If they say ‘I like the way you bound your presentation, it’s pretty’ then you can be like ‘GEDDOUDDAAHYEAH!’ and bounce. But, if what they like is what’s core to your concept, ie. if a funder said to me ‘I like that Bru & Boegie only wear underpants’ then I’d have some indication that we’re onto the same kind of thing here. That’s really important – firstly, to find what’s core about your show that you won’t change, and then really stick to your guns about that. It takes an exec 2 minutes to give you a note, and you have to live with your show. So, best be clear on what you’re not willing to change, and that makes it a lot easier to figure out what you are willing to move on. Take exec’s notes with a pinch of salt, and don’t be flexible about the core of your show. Everyone will be the better for it. ALIGNMENT, people.

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Safari Inn in LA.

Then we flew to LA and stayed in a rad motel, and we spent some quality time with Disney, talking with execs, meeting creatives, getting some 1-on-1 time with our projects and getting great feedback. I think we all got the impression that it was a place of growth – if you were kicking around ideas with these ninja-minds, you’d also sharpen your mind-blades. We spoke with the director and writer of Big Hero 6 and he was really frank with us on stuff, we spoke with people involved with Frozen and other stuff, and it was pretty rad that Disney opened their doors to us as much as they did. We signed many NDA’s. We also got to spend a day at Disneyland which was a lot of fun. And Jole Poleshek really laid it on for us – we got swag bags, VIP this and that, and she even arranged a trip for 3 of us to Pixar (because we were gonna be in San Fran).

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Nas and Raf. Excited? Terrified? Both.

OK ok ok. One of the coolest things I did whilst I was there was go say hi to my buddy Phil Rynda from Nickelodeon. He’s an all-round-nice-guy and lead character designer for Adventure Time S1-3 amongst other cool things. Anyways. He showed Ant and I around the studios which were GREAT. We met a bunch of peeps, saw the various segmented workspaces that do Spongebob, the new Pinky Malinky show, Breadwinners, kiff cubicles, ya. Nice. Anyways, Phil organized himself and I to spend the afternoon with PEN WARD, the cool dude who created Adventure Time. I know. I am a lucky dood.

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Ant and Bobby Sponge.

Pen picked us up in his car outside Nick studios, and we went to lunch. The place we were gonna go for lunch was being used as a filming location, so we went to this amazing other place that was high up on a hill somewhere, overlooking a golf course. It was quiet, probably because it was so awesome.

So, in the car I was telling Pen about how I met him once at ComiCon in San Diego in 2006 or something, when he first showed his Adventure Time pilot. I was blown away and I met him afterwards and gave him a Bru & Boegie comic book. After that I emailed him saying how much I dug his show and showed him my HappyLand stuff that he gave me a lot of notes for. Anyways, Adventure Time has become a MASSIVE success on Cartoon Network and 10 years later Pen is still super cool. ALSO he remembered me – even cooler. SO, we went for lunch, I asked if we could do a comic jam and Phil and Pen were like ‘ya’ so I did a panel and passed my sketchbook around, and we came up with this:

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Pretty rad I know. Then without me asking, Pen drew this picture for me. ‘The Kiffness’ is my brother’s band. I mean – is this guy just the coolest flippen’ dude? Dayeem. Then Phil accidentally paid with his own credit card instead of the company’s, and that was a surprise. Sorry Phil, but also thank you. Phil’s also doing some rad experiments with VR. It’s an exciting space to be in.

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Me, Phil, Pen. Hah!

We dropped Phil off, Pen gave me a copy of an Adventure Time game on PS3 that was in his car. And these guys were talking a lot about VR stuff. They really are amped about it and I think it’s the way of the future. Well, it is. Anyways, then I was like ‘Hey Pen, howzit, is it ok if I hang around a bit?’ and he was like ‘ya cool, come check out my house and all this neat VR stuff I have. Do you want to invite the rest of the SA guys?’ and then I was pumped going ‘Yoh okes gonna DIG this’ and he asked me how many SA peeps there are and I was like ’16’ and he said ‘BUT – THEY CAN’T ALL FIT INSIDE MY HOUSE’ and so I just went by myself. HA!

So, then Pen showed me the HTC VR stuff and these rad games on Steam. He moved his furniture out the way so I could amble about a bit with the headset on and hopefully not knock over a lamp with my hand controllers. You really gotta try this thing to get a proper experience. It’s better than you imagine it.

Anyways, so I’m opening a drawer in this one game and taking a tool to fix a robot, and then drawing in 3D space in this other app, and I’m also chilling with Pen. That was probably one of the best days ever. I mean. So much kiff stuff in one thing. Pen also has 2 pet turtles, they’re pretty schweet. Aaand, ya. We spoke about Adventure Time, about some of the stuff about running a show, he showed me this cool program where it turns your voice into MIDI notes and you can play a piano / guitar / synth like that. Man. What a rad dude. What. A. Rad. Dude.

I also went to Dreamworks on my last day to meet the nice peeps from AwesomenessTV. Shoh. That place looks like a set from a Shrek Fairytale castle with a big fountain in the middle, ivy on brickwork etc… that was quite nice.

Anyways, then Nas and Marc and I were off on our ROAD TRIP! We rented a car and had to figure out very quickly how to drive on the wrong side of the road. We did fine. We drove up from LA and stopped in at Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach, Big Sur, Los Lobos, Carmel, Monterey, and finally arrived in San Francisco. We did it over like 5 days or something and slept in pretty good motels. That was super cool. We got our party in the first night in Santa Barbara, sung karaoke at a bar and got a few dops in us. And man, Highway 1 is amazing. Coastal stuff is kiff.

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THEN, we visited Pixar and had lunch with Mary Coleman, Emily Mollenkopf and Erika Schmidt. Mary was the main speaker at Kidscreen – she kind of heads up the story department at Pixar. She knows her stuff. ‘Senior Development Executive’. YOH YOH YOH what a nice person. She’s so calm and easy to talk to, and you can stare at her right in the eyeball and she won’t even skip a beat. So, she asked quite a bit about us and I had a moment when Nas was talking about his story about a post-apocalyptic city, where a young girl who has been raised by a robot maid, wants to find her real mother. The question is – is the robot her real mother because she really raised the child, or does her human mother deserve to be her ‘real’ mother if she hasn’t been around? Anyways, Mary was into that for various reasons, and I just sat back and thought ‘Woah. We are here at Pixar talking about our stories with these impressive people – how on Earth did we get here?!?’ I’m still not quite sure. And THEN, Cara, the lady who was showing us around, is secretary to one of MY hero’s, Steve Purcell who created Sam & Max. I’m a huge fan of the 1993 Lucasarts videogame ‘Sam & Max: Hit the Road’. Steve now works at Pixar. So, he came down and I had a good rap with him. Also, the lunch was *amazing*.

So, then we hung around San Fran for a while, really enjoyed that place. If I had to live in the USA, I may *try* LA for a bit to experience the hustle and bustle, but Pismo Beach is great – reminds me of Plett, and San Fran is great – kind of also reminds me of Cape Town a bit. Pretty city. I also managed to get some Enchroma glasses – the glasses that are made in SF that help red/green colourblind people like myself see colours better. They do work in good sunlight and it’s been cool seeing clours in trees and nature that I don’t normally pick up. Niiice.

MAN – what a cool trip. Triggerfish did an amazing thing, and Disney did an amazing thing, and the DTI did an amazing thing. I am so lucky to have been a part of that, and I know all of us who were there really did feel very lucky. Whaddata.

2016 Bro

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GUYS. It has been a great start to the New Year. I hope you had a good January? Good grief it is now February. Oh wow. How how how how how how how how how how how how how SO. Let’s get started. You’re here so that I can show you stuff I’ve been doing? Oh, jolly nice. JOLLY JOLLY NICE. Before I begin, please note I post quite a bit of stuff on my Instagram page. So, if you’re looking for bits ‘n bobs, I’m fairly active there. Not so much on Facebook and Twitter.

1. iPad Sketches!

Jolly good. I never say Jolly Good in real life. I resurrected my old iPad Mini with a Jot Mini stylus and Procreate, and made some sketches on it. Look!

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2. Comic Jams

Lots of them! Oh, what a what a. Too many to post, loads on my Instagram account, so, a small gallery here:

3. Knysna-Plett Herald

You haven’t ‘arrived’ until you’ve been in the Knysna-Plett Herald newspaper. Look! I am reportdely and forevermore ‘THE KING OF KIFFNESS’. Yisss.

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4. Album!

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Guys, I flippen’ made a music album and it’s available on iTunes if you so wish to listen to it? Please do. What a nice hobby.

5. I was part of a GIF exhibition

What a nice idea! An exhibition where animated GIFs are projected on the walls and people stand around and look at them. Very nice. Very very nice. Here’s their Facebook page, if you’d like to connect. They’re in Cape Town.

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6. I came across some old portfolio items

Oh, amazing! Geepers, so much detail! Here, a gallery for you to peruse. Please do, please do.

Also, here’s my first animation I found on VHS cassette. HAH! Nice. I did this when I think I was like, 15 or something:

7. CTIAF – Cape Town International Animation Festival

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Oh my goodness gracious it’s the first ever ‘Cape Town International Animation Festival’, previously known as ‘Kunjanimation’. AND IT’S TAKING PLACE THIS MONTH! IN CAPE TOWN! They’re getting International guest speakers, screening a whole bunch of amazing local and International animation, nice talks – really, this is the start of something amazing. I was pleased to be involved in the curating of the local content. Very nice.

8. Mike’s Universe

Oh ho ho! Why am I saying so many of these weird things? Anyways, Mike’s Universe was something I created back in 2002 at Rhodes University at about the same time as Bru & Boegie. I like it and I’ve pitched it in a music video competition. If it doesn’t win I’ll prob make a short like this sometime. A gallery – please, please.

9. Bru & Boegie

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Bru & Boegie. Oh how you have done me well. So, Bru & Boegie got into the Disney / Triggerfish Story Lab, so I am off to America on Saturday and spending the whole month in the US! First for the ‘Kidscreen’ animation conference taking place in Miami, then for 2 weeks with Disney in Burbank, LA (amazing) and then taking an exploratory 4-day road-trip with 2 friends from LA up to San Francisco. SO COOL. SO SO COOL. Amazingly I get to make a Bru & Boegie animated short with Disney. I can hardly process this much awesomeness.

I’ll take this opportunity to say thank you to anyone and everyone who’s supported me in any way these past few years – whether by commissioned work, or a friendly comment – thank you. Very kind. And if you’ve just enjoyed any of my work – what a treat. Thank you 🙂

BONUS: Here’s South African celebrity Danny K claiming that my brother Dave from ‘The Kiffness‘ is an A-List celebrity. Good one Danny.

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Story Lab, Vipassana, CartoonBrew

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Broose Boegiebox.

Hello. How are you? Nice? Oh ok. Well, that’s nice. Me? Oh, I’m just nice too thanks. Please – come inside, take your shoes off and sit on the kitchen floor while I ruminate on recent events.

So, I did the Triggerfish Storylab. I entered two projects, one of them being my 13-year old comic duo ‘Bru & Boegie’ and was able to pitch it as both a series and a film. Well, let me tell you, it was a flippen’ rad 2 weeks. Shoh.

So, Pilar Alessandra came from LA. She wrote this book ‘The Coffee Break Screen Writer’. It’s a great book that helps you to go through various exercises and questions to get to the meat and bones of your script. I read about half the book while I was in pre-production on Moosebox, Triggerfish had a copy I was borrowing. But, she came and talked to us for a week in the flesh. Man. That was awesome. We got to apply the exercises to our projects, wrote two pages of script that we read out in the class, and the whole thing was super interactive. So – great. I was amazed at how on the ball she was. Sometimes when someone would explain their story, I only have a limited amount of space in my brain for a few characters and what they’re doing when first hearing about a concept, so I skew towards easy-to-understand concepts where story and plot stuff doesn’t get too much in the way of what the essence of the thing is. However, she had a way of giving feedback that was really on point, in a way that she couldn’t have just been winging it. eg if someone said “My project is about a guy and another guy, but the one guy is from this other place and there’s a dragon who also knows this other girl who is involved with this guy, and the other friend of them who lives with the dragon’s friend, the other girl, all go about doing their thing is this place that’s similar to this other place that’s also like …” so I’m already going glassy-eyed and Pilar would say “Ok, so, maybe you could try x, y and z” and I’d be like “Yo. How’d you process that?”

Then, Orion Ross from Disney came to chat to us about series, and that too exceeded my hopes. He got very specific about stuff, we got to see some unreleased Disney stuff, and he kind of covered series specifics without being too particular to Disney which was cool. Also, very interactive – we each got to pitch each other’s characters which was a good exercise in seeing how universally translatable a character is. Then we went through various stages of pitching, and again he provided feedback on the spot and I think a lot of creators pulled their socks up after getting an honest opinion. In South Africa we’re sometimes terribly polite to one another and may not get to the heart of an issue even if we have potentially valuable feedback to offer. Well, I guess I speak for myself there, but I think having an industry person there like Orion with experience where superfluous niceties may not be in everybody’s interest was good.

Up Lion's Head in Cape Town with Orion and Ant Silverston, Kelly Dillon, Sarah Scrimgeour and Lucy Heavens.

Up Lion’s Head in Cape Town with Ant Silverston, me, Orion Ross, Kelly Dillon, and then behind us Sarah Scrimgeour and Lucy Heavens.

Ya. Good stuff. I think anyone who was there got an upskill in various areas whether they liked it or not. Would be great to get more people like Orion and Pilar over here to knock us into shape a bit and I think we’re hungry to learn too.

Triggerfish also put a bunch of us up in Claremont, in a flippen’ mansion. Yoh. There were 35 – 40 people at the Story Lab from all over Africa, so we got to meet lank cool peeps from Kenya, Zambia, a dude from Nigeria, Zim etc… Was great.

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Braai. Balcony at mansion. Yoh. Was an amazing spot.

Then, bro’s, I did this 10-day meditation retreat called ‘Vipassana‘. Yoh. What a thing. It’s a 10-day meditation retreat (this one was outside Cape Town in Worcester) where there’s ‘noble silence’ for 10 days, which means no talking to one another, no eye contact, no gesturing – no communication at all. Also, no books to read, no sketchbooks, no music – you’re there really to eat (2 meals per day, vegetarian, delicious), sleep (wake up at 4am, sleep at 9:30pm) and spend 10 days learning and practicing this meditation technique called ‘Vipassana’ which focuses on observing the body’s breath and observing sensations on the body – no hocus pocus really. Wow. Was amazing – tough, but mostly amazing. Halfway through day 1 I was like ‘ah geez, this is gonna be a flippen’ mal slow 10 days’ and sometimes it was. But, on the 9th day, I felt inner nibanic bliss – after sitting for hours and hours and hours during the previous days and experiencing gross bolidy sensations like a sore back, sore knees etc… all the pains melted away and it felt like my body was made of pure honey, and fluid (not solid at all). I kind of popped some tear-juice it felt so good. So, that was nice. But the aim of it isn’t to chase the high – it’s more about purifying the mind and releasing past ‘sankaras’ – deeply etched beliefs, cravings and aversions that don’t serve us any longer and only multiply our suffering by taking us away from the moment. Breaking the mind-body habit of just reacting to sensations like a little tickle on the nose or a fly landing on you, apparently helps to disassociate from reaction and see things more like how they really are. And to develop equanimity of mind. Better for me, better for others.

Pond at edge of Dhamma Pataka

Pond at edge of Dhamma Pataka.

Also, check this rad Moosebox pic Daniel Snaddon, co-director of Stick Man, drew for me 🙂

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Drawing by Dan Snaddon. Dig it :)

I did some storyboarding for Stick Man that premieres on BBC 1 on Christmas day at 4:45pm. It looks amazing. Seriously. Check this trailer:

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Kiss. Kiss. Kiss.

Ok, flip. Some other stuff. So, my bro had this whole social media dig with Telkom – he’d make something, they’d make something – it revolved around the talking baby TV ads from Telkom. I won’t lie, their dead eyes that don’t communicate what their mouths are are a bit unsettling. So, Nic Smal from Derick Watts & The Sunday Blues teamed up with my bro to bring you this. I filmed my mouth and comp’d it onto the baby:

We “love” you too, Telkom.Tried to watch Telkom’s response video to my campaign to stop their talking baby adverts, but then this happened…

Posted by The Kiffness on Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Then, I did this little teaser for my bro’s new track:

127 Boets Per Minute (TEASER)BOETS! ? Here’s a taste of our paamping new tjoen featuring one of our favourite boet rappers Jaco van der Merwe from Bittereinder. If you shmaak it, then laak it ?Lekkaz.

Posted by The Kiffness on Friday, October 30, 2015

My bro and I also made this video of this matric who was interviewed on Carte Blanche about Matric Rage. Yoh, he made me lol. The video went viral and quickly got 100k views (now sitting on 160+k views). I’ve stopped believing that view count is any indicator of a successful video but this still kind of makes me laugh. You can momentarily see the gears turning in this guys head after he’s asked a question. He recovered like a champion. Greatness:

Thug MatricThis boet was asked on Carte Blanche tonight what Matric Rage meant to him. His response was thug-worthy.

Posted by The Kiffness on Sunday, December 6, 2015

Then I drew this pic for a colleague Ruan, who was dressed like this for his bachelor party:

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Look. Here’s some pics of Onion Boy! I hope we can still make an Onion Boy short or something. I dig Onion Boy and think he’s super endearing:

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Guys. I gotta say. Bru & Boegie got into Story Lab. So, I get a trip to Disney. I started writing this post before I knew, and now I know, so. That’s amazing. Here are the others in the series pool:

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So. If you’ve been following my work for an amount of time, you may know how close Bru & Boegie are to my heart. Like – very close. I started drawing Bru & Boegie comics in 2002 in my dorm room at Rhodes, when I was going through some mal stuff, and I made a commitment to continue doing Bru & Boegie throughout my life to just have *some* body of work with a golden thread when other stuff seemed like it was falling down around me. So, 13 years later, Bru & Boegie seems like it may be getting a thumbs up from The Universe or something. We shall see how this unfolds.

Bru & Boegie awaiting Story Lab announcements.

Bru & Boegie awaiting Story Lab announcements.

Also of note is that Bru & Boegie got a little ‘short of the day’ feature on CartoonBrew.com. Cartoon Brew is arguably the biggest / most-frequented animation sites on the net so any time I get something on there is a moment to pause and go ‘thaz really nys’.

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And, a Medical Chronicle cartoon about how expensive medical insurance is for doctors:

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A pic I drew to kickstart something for ‘Mike’s Universe’:

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Check – my dad has one of my pictures I drew when I was about 5 hanging on his wall in his office. I like it:

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Also, here’s my friend Luciana. She went under a bridge in Kirstenbosch gardens and looked for tadpoles. Drew a pic of her in her sketchbook. She’s just moved to San Francisco. Had a rad time exploring and general chillin’ with her:

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