Francis Y Brown’s animation works include Begger, Agorkoli, Tutu, and Agradaa, winning the Emerging Animation Country Category at the 2013 KLIK Amsterdam Animation Festival. Mmofra is his first full-length children’s content channel independently produced in Africa by Africans. It went live on Amazon Prime in 2020 https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/video/detail/B08JZF671G/ref=atv_dp_share_cu_r
The award-winning Ghanaian animator is the Founder and Creative Director at AnimaxFYB Studios; aims to be the world’s leading producer and provider of authentic and celebrated African stories. His awards to his credits; are Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF): Best Animation 2016, Ghana UK Based Achievement (GUBA) Awards: Animator of the year 2017, and Ghana Movie Awards: Best Animator 2018. Africa 35 under 35 Laureate and Emyafrica Creative Art Man of the year 2021.
Francis Y Brown shares, the struggles he has been through as an animator, even though his achievements have encouraged others to also pursue this interest, he wishes, he gets the financial muscle to do more in the field.
‘’Armed with a shoestring budget and a lot of courage, I embarked on a soul-searching journey across the motherland (Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Togo, Morocco, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Tanzania, etc). My war plan was to connect the dots in Africa’s animation ecosystem. This was in 2016 and that ish was mad painful, after depleting all my hard-earned resources.
Plodding along unbeaten paths to make sense of my course of action by finding aspirational networks in the animation environment on the continent was sometimes done on an empty stomach. That shoestring budget was constantly at a dangerous breaking point. And I kept asking myself if I wasn’t being quixotic — like Don Quixote.
But as though our ancestors wanted to send me a sign about their appreciation of our fight to own and control our African narratives, whatever they are, we emerged with the BEST ANIMATION FILM in Africa that year.
With that award, Ghana’s animation sector came under the spotlight, and all of a sudden we were plugged into the massive, multi-billion global film economy. Unfortunately, there was little media appreciation and therefore Ghana wasn’t brought up to speed on what we were achieving for the motherland. Thanks to folks like David Mawuli and Kester Aburam Korankye for helping us to soldier on!
Since that year (2016), back-to-back accolades for our works have been a constant as we continue to push the boundaries for Ghana. Today, our unapologetic award-winning streak has made it possible for budding young Ghanaian professionals in the somewhat unfriendly animation space to have something to hope for.
Despite the lack of local recognition — which is attested by the sad dearth of local investments — it is our doggedness in making this a homegrown Pan-African intellectual property through and through that helps us to endure the painful lack of interest among those that matter; those who can finance our internationally sought-after indigenous content while laughing all the way to the bank!
As an internationally recognized artist, I could decide to be selfish, build my portfolio and bounce out of this talent asphyxiating system. I could have done all that straight out of school when I was shortlisted for Student Oscars and big studios wanted me to join them. But I just couldn’t deny my roots and jump on board a gravy train with no consideration whatsoever for the health of the animation industry.
A true artist has a source of inspiration. Mine is in the same air and land that my ancestors breathed and walked. Leaving my people for greener pastures elsewhere has never been on the table. For me, it is crucial to empower and inspire like-minded ‘fashionistas’.
Unfortunately, I am now only coming to terms with my naïveté, after learning hard lessons about the selfish, unfriendly, and cannibalistic underpinnings of our so-called local investment environment. But, perhaps, time will tell if this realization is only a flawed figment of my sometimes wandering imagination!
Today, when we talk about animation in Africa, we’re quick to favor Eurocentric elements with strategic economic interests in Africa. But just give me half, or less, of their budget and resources and see what truly comes out of Africa! I promise everyone that it would be nothing less than authenticity, talent, and pure genius!!!
THIS IS A MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY AND GHANA RISKS HAEMORRHAGING A LOT OF TALENT AND POTENTIAL INCOME IF WE DO NOT MOVE WITH SPEED. AFRICAN YOUTH ARE ALL ABOUT HIGH ENERGY, DEAR GHANA GOVERNMENT, DEAR INVESTORS FROM NEAR AND FAR, HAVE FAITH IN US!
TO THE MAXX…@ animafileyb
This article was contributed to AcheampongMagazine