Making Friends, a short, animated South African film in the Toby series about a boy who goes on adventures with Jesus, releases in the United States this month.
The launch into the US market is a breakthrough for animation studio Bugbox which released the film in South Africa in 2007, says producer Candice Argall who heads up the studio with her husband Tim.
The idea for Toby came from a moment with Candice’s young son, Matthew, when she was trying to explain the concept of the human spirit to him, and how it doesn’t die when our bodies die. Candice woke up in the middle of the night soon after, with a story in her head. She knew it was from God and that he wanted her to make the film.
“It has been a huge adventure to find the right distributors internationally,” says Candice.
“Of course with God, the journey is as important as the destination, and we have learned so much along the way that it’s hard to believe we knew so little about the distribution industry a couple of years back. The process has been intimidating and invigorating, and results have only come through perseverance and a willingness to keep pushing when the odds are against you.
“A few years back, the US response was the films were of exceptionally high production quality, but were too South African – the actors’ accents and the humour were local. But our US distributor has seen that as strength. He feels that the material is fresh, not just in message, but in presentation too, and this generation of Christian parents are looking for relevant, exciting, life-changing media for their kids. The Toby films deliver on all fronts.
” We’re thrilled that Word Distribution is taking our film to market. They represent VeggieTales, the largest international Christian kids media brand, and they are very fussy about the products they take on. We consider their interest in Toby to be a huge compliment!”
Making Friends is one of three within the series entitled The Adventures of Toby, for a Christian kids audience. Biblical themes and stories get a modern twist when seen through the eyes of Toby, an eccentric kid. Toby meets Jesus in his heart and they travel in a time machine to the beginning of creation, where Toby sees how much fun God had when he made the earth, and Toby.
“We had a lot of fun making this film,” continues Candice. “The voice of Jesus, South African actor James Alexander, gave us so much great stuff to work with. He completely influenced the creation scene, where God makes the earth – it really is a fun, thrilling few minutes of screen time. When combined with the mixing of 3D, 2D and clay animation, the result is the highlight of the film. Check out the clip below:
More information on the films and where to get them is available on the Adventures of Toby website.