Boi Wonder

At 27 he has created Malaysia’s 1st internationally successful animated children’s series, with movie and merchandise to boot. Part of the team behind Upin & Ipin, Geng: The Adventures begins and now Boboiboy, JUICE chats with Mohd Safwan on animating for the young.

How was DigiCon6 and Tokyo? What did you get from the whole experience?
DigiCon 6 is a great platform for us to showcase and compare our animations with other Asian countries. We managed to gain some contacts from Japanese broadcasters and animation studios. It’s also a great experience to be able to visit the TBS Studio and Polygon Pictures, and be able to meet with their high-ranking managers and directors to exchange views. I’m very much amazed and thankful for their great hospitality during my stay there.

Do you have a favourite anime?
It’s been awhile since I last watched an anime. I love to watch samurai-themed anime such as Samurai 7.

What drove you and your partners to start Animonsta Studios and what’s your personal role in the company?
Besides having the ambitions to create an internationally recognised icon, we feel that we, as a new animation company, can share our knowledge to others. The market is pretty big in Malaysia for our local studios to penetrate and the challenge now is to finish our products. I’m currently the Executive Director in Animonsta Studios. Besides handling the business with my partners, my role in production is more towards character creation and art direction.

With the success of Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula and Upin & Ipin, and now BoBoiBoy, is there a formula for storytelling in animation?
When we tell stories, we always keep in mind that in whatever theme it may be, either through everyday life or superhero-based, we always keep the moral values intact. It’s also important for the target viewers to be able to relate to the characters or story. For example, we know that kids love chocolate, candy and junk food, so we created a character whose power can change any object into food. As a kid, he tends to change everything into candy until he falls sick for eating too much junk food. Then he learns that it’s better to eat healthy foods rather than sweets and candies.

What was the inspiration behind BoBoiBoy?
We realised that Malaysians still do not have a child superhero icon. That’s when we had the idea to introduce BoBoiBoy.

Which countries have purchased your animations so far?
Besides TV3, we’re currently working with Disney Channel South East Asia to broadcast our animation to 16 South East Asia countries, and are still in talks with other broadcasters and distributors to bring BoboiBoy to the Europe and Middle East market.

You’ve applied for a RM2 million fund from the government (MDeC). Do you have any tips for creating a solid proposal for independent digital creators?
When applying for a fund for animation work, you’ve got to have a concrete idea of where your IP is heading in terms of production timelines, costs, markets, potential spinoff businesses and number of job opportunities created. It’s best if you’ve already contacted a potential broadcaster even though there is no confirmed sale. Media coverage will also help your IP stand out.

What’s the most positive comment you’ve heard so far on BoBoiBoy and who was it from?
Azri Badri of TV3 once commented that despite having local looks, Boboiboy is on par with international animations that we can see from the movies.

How can we, as Malaysians, create universal content with a local touch?
As animation creators, we need to constantly watch and expose ourselves to productions from other countries. From there, we’ll try to inject local elements and gain as much feedback as possible. Of course, later we’ll need to find the point of balance or else our animation will never see the light of day!

Get in touch with Animonsta Studios and BoBoiBoy at www.animonsta.com.