The SA-produced, 3D version of Jock of the Bushveld has made a successful international debut at a leading animated film festival, says Andy Rice, who is handling the film’s marketing.
More than 7 000 people attended last week’s 50th anniversary staging of the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France. It was founded in 1960.
Though the SA movie is five months from completion, Rice says clips shown at Annecy received warm applause from animated film producers and distributors. “A number of people expressed surprise that an independent SA studio could produce something of this quality.” He adds: “This wasn’t a selling trip for the movie. We wanted people to see it and get their reaction.”
Jock of the Bushveld is based on the classic SA story by Irish adventurer Percy Fitzpatrick, in which he writes about life with his Staffordshire bull terrier Jock. It tells of their adventures in the 1880s, when Fitzpatrick worked in the Lowveld as a prospector, journalist and transport rider. The film is being produced in Johannesburg by local film maker Duncan MacNeillie, responsible for two previous, non-animated film versions of the book.
MacNeillie and Rice both attended the festival, as did the latter’s brother Tim, who is writing the musical score lyrics for Jock. Tim Rice, whose award-winning credits include The Lion King and Evita, also served as a judge at Annecy.
Among the musicians with whom Rice will collaborate on Jock are Hollywood legend Alan Menken, whose music has won eight Oscars. Animated films for which he has won awards include The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. Johnny Clegg and Craig Hinds, songwriter and lead singer of local band Watershed, will provide SA input.
So complex is the animation art that Jock is being produced at the rate of one second per animator per day. Rice expects initial animation to be complete by the end of August. Then it will require up to two months more to complete the music, voice-overs and colour upgrades.
Among the personalities providing voices for the animated characters are Archbishop Desmond Tutu (aptly, as a wise spiritual leader), radio DJ Jeremy Mansfield, actor Michael de Pinha and comedian Nik Rabinowitz.
Andy Rice says the final bill for producing Jock will run to about US$10m. The movie is scheduled for release in SA on March 25 next year, in time for the school holidays. A few weeks later it will head to key markets in the northern hemisphere for the summer holiday period.
Before then, in addition to completing the movie, Rice says there will be intensive marketing roadshows in Europe and the US. He and his team are also tying up merchandising deals for figurines, clothing, games and books.