Zog, co-directed by South African Daniel Snaddon (Stick Man) and two-time Oscar nominee Max Lang (The Gruffalo and Room On The Broom), won the International Emmy for Best Kids Animation yesterday. The 27-minute short film was animated in Cape Town by Triggerfish and produced by Magic Light Pictures.
Zog has already won the Children’s Programme Award from the Royal Television Society; Best Animation at the Shanghai International TV Festival; and the Audience Award for ages 3-6 at the New York International Children’s Film Festival. The short was also nominated for a Kidscreen Award for Best One-off, Special or TV Movie; and Best Special Production and Best Storyboarding at the Annie Awards in 2020.
The adorable short film is based on Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s much loved 2010 picture book, which sold over 1.5 million copies and won the Galaxy National Children’s Book of the Year Award in the UK. Zog is the keenest but clumsiest pupil in his class at Dragon School, where he longs to win a gold star as he learns how to fly, roar and breathe fire. He keeps meeting a kindly young girl who patches up his bumps and bruises, but can she help him with his trickiest school assignment yet: capturing a princess?
Hugh Skinner (Fleabag) voices the clumsy dragon; 2019 Olivier award winner Patsy Ferran (Jamestown) is the kindly young girl; Kit Harington (Jon Snow in Game of Thrones) is the bumbling knight Sir Gadabout; Sir Lenny Henry (Broadchurch) is the narrator; and Tracey Ullman is Madame Dragon.
Zog premiered on BBC One at Christmas 2018 to five-star reviews, 8.8m viewers and the highest share (37%) of any programme across Christmas week on British television. In South Africa, the short premiered at The Cape Town International Animation Festival in March 2019 and on Showmax in August.
The Telegraph praised Zog as a “hypnotising, inspiring tale for all the family”; Den of Geek called it “a thing of perfectly spherical loveliness; it is lovely from every conceivable angle”; The Guardian warned parents “once this has been added to iPlayer you may never be allowed to watch anything else again on your TV – ever!”; and Donaldson herself told The Herald that Zog was her favourite BBC adaptation to date.
Zog follows a string of acclaimed BBC Christmas adaptations produced by Magic Light Pictures. Zog is the fourth animated at Triggerfish, following the multi-award-winning Donaldson-Scheffler adaptations Stick Man (2015) and The Highway Rat (2017) as well as the Oscar-nominated Roald Dahl adaptation Revolting Rhymes (2016), which also won the International Emmy in 2018. A fifth, The Snail and The Whale, is now also streaming on Showmax, and recently won Best Voice Performance for Sally Hawkins at the 2020 British Animation Awards.
Magic Light Pictures have previously made the celebrated Donaldson-Scheffler adaptations: the Oscar-nominated The Gruffalo (2009) and Room On The Broom (2012) and Annecy winner The Gruffalo’s Child (2011). All eight family specials are now streaming on Showmax.
Triggerfish is currently in production on their third feature film, Seal Team, and the Netflix Original series, Mama K’s Team 4, with the studio currently working remotely during the South African lockdown.
“This is some very welcome good news at a challenging time,” says Triggerfish CEO Stuart Forrest. “The crew poured heart and soul into bringing to life a character that we all came to love, and to get one of the top TV prizes in the world is wonderful recognition for an incredible team.”
South Africans interested in exploring a career in animation during the country’s lockdown can find out more at Triggerfish’s free digital learning platform, supported by Goethe-Institut, the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, and The Walt Disney Company.
Watch Zog on Showmax: