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Malika Animated Pilot - Behind The Scenes Part 1
Malika Animated Pilot - Behind The Scenes Part 2
Malika Animated Pilot - Behind The Scenes Part 3
Malika Animated Pilot - Behind The Scenes Part 4
My name is Roye Okupe, and I am the CEO of YouNeek Studios. Some of you may know me as the writer/creator/publisher of the award-winning graphic novel series Malika & E.X.O. However, today I'm here to talk to you about a different topic.
A little over three years ago I quit my full-time job to start YouNeek Studios. I did so because all my life I've wanted to create stories that are inspired by African history, culture and mythology. Until this point, I have fulfilled this goal successfully by publishing graphic novels.
My books have been successful due to an amazing group of fans that constantly support my projects. Everything I've created and achieved up to this point has led me to this moment. I know that it is now the time to move into the realm of animation!
Animation? Yes, you heard that right! YouNeek Studios has decided to officially move forward with production of the Malika: Warrior Queen animated pilot/episode one. It's a 3D animated episode (7-minutes long) that I will be writing and directing. The amazing guys at Anthill (who did the animated teaser for our Kickstarter video) will be handling pre-production and production, and YouNeek Studios will take care of post-production.
Our goal is to start small by creating one 7-minute episode that can act as both a pilot and as the beginning of a series (episode one). We need to raise about $15,000 to cover the entire animation production costs. We understand that there will be some other costs (post-production, miscellaneous additional and unexpected costs etc.), but as a company, we are also going to be investing our time and money to handle those things.
The cool thing is that if we're able to exceed our goal, we can do even more! So in theory, just with this Kickstarter, we can produce not only episode one but two, three, four or perhaps an ENTIRE season or movie! Basically, the more money we raise the more episodes we can produce! Check out the stretch goal section below for more info on this.
Why Malika? I could say we chose this story because it's an award-winning graphic novel series. Or because it's the only African comic to ever be featured during Diamond Comics Free Comic Book Day (2017/18) and Halloween Comic Fest 2017, with comic book stores ordering more than 100,000 copies for those events combined. Or the fact that it features a badass African female lead character.
But the simple answer? It’s all of the above.
Set in fifteenth-century West Africa, Malika: Warrior Queen follows the exploits of Queen and military commander, Malika, who struggles to keep the peace in her ever-expanding empire. Growing up as a prodigy, Malika inherited the crown from her father in the most unusual of circumstances, splitting the Kingdom of Azzaz in half. After years of civil war, Malika was able to unite all of Azzaz, expanding it into one of the largest empires in all of West Africa.
But expansion would not come without its costs. Enemies begin to rise within her council, and Azzaz grabbed the attention of the most feared superpower the world has ever known: the Ming Dynasty. As Malika fights to win the clandestine civil war within the walls of her empire, she must now turn her attention to an indomitable and treacherous foe that plans to vanquish her entire people. From dragons to mythical relics, a feuding royal family and magical swords, the story of Malika: Warrior Queen stays true to the fantasy genre while adding something new by setting familiar concepts in an awe-inspiring African setting.
What Make's Malika Unique?
Malika - Warrior Queen showcases the majesty and awe that is medieval West Africa. The costumes, character design, and set pieces all serve to highlight a robust diversity of culture and tradition based on real history. While Malika and her empire of Azzaz are fictional, they are surrounded by actual African states and rulers: bordered to the south by the Oyo, Nri, and Benin Kingdoms; to the west by the Songhai Empire and Timbuktu; and to the east by the Kingdom of Kongo.
Azzaz is itself divided into five provinces, each with their local traditions and customs. This amalgamation of African cultures sets the stage for an epic adventure, all as told through the eyes of Malika. As the Empire of Azzaz and the Ming Dynasty, clash, breathtaking fantastical elements (magic, relics, and dragons) are introduced via ancient mythological artifacts and beings called The Divine Ones. Focus is placed on two such artifacts: Dragon’s Destiny, a sword whose powers feed on the wielder’s courage, and Dragon’s Doom, whose powers feed on the wielder’s rage.
A master duelist and battle strategist by the age of 8, Malika was a child prodigy born to rule. However, she quickly realizes just how heavy the crown is after ascending to the throne following the loss of both parents during the civil war. Determined to make a better future for Azzaz, Malika ends the civil war by uniting all the neighboring kingdoms into one empire. This attracts danger from the outside in the form of the Ming Dynasty, as well as betrayal from within the walls of her empire. These, however, turn out to be the least of Malika’s problems as a cloud darkness approaches Azzaz. Malika must now look to divine power to restore hope to a fractured empire.
General Cheng, an accomplished voyager and military tactician, was sent by the Emperor of the Ming Dynasty to Atala to peacefully investigate the presence of ancient and very powerful relics called the Dragon Stones. Upon his failure to form an alliance with the Atalians, Cheng went rogue and set his eyes on the Empire of Azzaz and Malika herself after she offers aid to Atala.
King Bass (The WindMaker)
Ever the curious warrior, Bass Kazaar found the Wind Stone, one of four ancient dragon relics, and became The WindMaker. With his newfound powers to manipulate the wind as well as the strength of the Red Raven Army, protectors of the Kingdom of Atala, behind him, Bass goes on to drive Cheng and his forces away from his homeland. Following this victory, Bass is crowned the first-ever King of Atala. Knowing that Cheng would not stop until he gets what he wants, Bass journeys to Azzaz to seek an alliance with Queen Malika.
As First Minister of Azzaz, Abdul is second in command to Malika. Having trained her since she was six, Abdul is more of an adopted father to her. Ever the over-protective guardian, he will go to any lengths to ensure Malika’s safety as Queen.
Chief Dogbari is a member of The Council of Five, a group of leaders selected from each of the five provinces in Azzaz to advise Queen Malika. While each member of the council is supposed to have a say in matters of the empire, Chief Dogbari, due to his political stature, speaks for the entire council. He is also the governor of the Fon Province.
Although Malika’s Azzazian Empire and The WindMaker’s Kingdom of Atala are both fictional places, the world they inhabit is very real, as can be seen from the map above. People familiar with African history will definitely recognize names such as Timbuktu, The Songhay Empire, The Oyo Empire, The Benin Empire, etc. Malika: Warrior Queen is sprinkled with MANY Easter eggs regarding African history!
Anyone who knows the slightest thing about animation knows just how expensive and difficult it can be to produce. For ten years, I've tried to go through conventional channels, putting together a pitch bible and pitching to investors, distributors, networks, and producers. And while I've been able to get close a couple of times (I've met some amazing producers/people who continue to do what they can to help), it has just never happened.
This is why I chose to go the crowdfunding route. After all, I've been able to fund all four of my graphic novels via Kickstarter, and I have the same faith that this will be successful, too.
If you want to see more representation on-screen, you are in search of new and unique stories, or you love or want to learn more about African culture, history, and mythology, then I am making this for you.
This is a story inspired by African history that ANYONE from ANY part of the world can relate to and enjoy.
However, I can't create this animation without your help. So I hope that you choose to pledge :) Every single, pledge, tweet, share, and comment counts!
So what do you say? Do you wanna help me bring something "YouNeek" to the animation industry?
The cool thing is that if we're able to exceed our goal, we can do even more. Basically, the more money we raise the more episodes we can produce! Check out the stretch goal section below for more info on this.
As with any other YouNeek project (our graphic novels, comics, etc.), everything we do is self-funded/bootstrapped, and as always, we truly believe in our fans (current and prospective). We know that as long as we continue to produce quality products and treat our fans like family, there's no project that's too big to attempt.
I believe that this is no different.
Where Does The Money Go?
Should we be funded (fingers crossed), it will take about 4 months from the moment that we commence work with Anthill until we wrap up the final edit.
Potential delays may arise as a result of:
- Working with people in multiple time zones
- Shipping to you
- Unforeseen circumstances
This will be my fifth Kickstarter, so the plan is to use all my experience to make this process as glitch-free as possible.
Other costs include:
- Rewards production
All of these costs will be covered by YouNeek Studios.
"Malika is the sort of tale that can be appreciated by a wide audience. An engaging tale of justice, bloodshed, wrath, and love, its mythic lessons of good and evil will echo true in many people’s hearts. Its serious subject manner makes it appealing to adult audiences, while its restrained use of violence and the relative absence of blood and gore make it appropriate for children as well. Book 2 took Malika to places I had never expected her to go, making me excited to see what will happen in her future and how her journey fits into the larger story of the Youneek Youniverse as a whole."
- Culture Honey
Roye Okupe | Creator/Writer/Director
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Roye Okupe is an author, speaker and entrepreneur whose passion for animation led him to found YouNeek Studios in 2012, an avenue that would allow him to pursue his dream of creating a diverse library of superheroes. Under that umbrella, Roye wrote, produced and directed several animated productions including, but not limited to, 2D/3D animated short films, TV commercials, show openers, music videos and much more. These productions have allowed Roye to attain many prestigious recognitions such as being #5 on Ventures Africa’s list of 40 African innovators to watch (2016) as well as being part of NewAfrican Magazines’ 100 most influential Africans two years in a row (2016 & 2017).
Niyi Akinmolayan | Executive Producer
Niyi Akinmolayan is a Nigerian film-maker, director and media consultant. He is best known for directing the highest grossing Nigerian film of all time, The Wedding Party 2, which starred Banky Wellington, Adesua Etomi and Enyinna Nwigwe; it was a sequel to the equally successful film The Wedding Party(2016). He is the founder and Creative Director of Anthill Productions, a media production an animation studio in Lagos Nigeria.
Godwin Akpan | Senior Digital Artist
Godwin discovered the digital canvas in the early days of the computer revolution in Nigeria. Having trained as a traditional artist in college, Godwin brings his unique set of skills into creating digital masterpieces. His character design works have been featured in major digital art forums worldwide. He also lectures digital art in masterclasses with the comic panel academy. Check his portfolio here. He creates storyboards, concept art and matte painting here at the studio.
Eri Umusu | Lead CG Artist
Eri is undoubtedly one of Nigeria's best when it comes to 3D modeling, animation and visual effects. A self-taught artist, Eri leads a team of animators in the studio to create pristine work of art. He had his directorial debut with The Sim, and further challenged himself with the rest of the team to produce an animated short PlayThing which is currently the most popular 3d animation in Nigeria.
He is a star in the 3D community, and frequently organizes workshops and lectures on computer animation. Eri hopes to be a Japanese samurai one day.
Fem D | Composer
Fem D is a multi-faceted music producer, filmmaker, composer and sound designer with an undeniable passion for the arts and an affinity for fearless innovation that’s clearly expressed in his compositions.
As a Grammy Voting member with the Recording Academy and founder of iAmazeMusic, the DMV based producer has spent over a decade crafting his sound. He has always been driven with the philosophy that it’s not enough for the music to be good… it has to be great.
Fem D has produced several albums that have garnered acclaim in the United States and overseas, and has had his music placed in TV and film.
He is also an educator, mentoring aspiring music producers, artists and indie filmmakers to transition from dreamers to music entrepreneurs. For more information on how to book Fem D, please contact him at email@example.com.
About YouNeek Studios
Simply put, through the use of comics, animation, videos games and other forms of media, we focus on telling extraordinary stories about extraordinary characters inspired African history and culture.
$20,000 - Star Actor
We'll approach a star Nollywood Actor/Actresses to voice 1 of the main characters.
$26,000 - 30 Second Post-Credit Scene.
It's not a superhero story without a post-credits cliff-hanger. This will also give hints as to where episode two and the entire season is going.
$35,000 - 1-minute Episode 2 Teaser
We'll create a 1-munited animated clip of the beginning of episode two so you can get a glimpse of how the story unfolds.
$40,000 - 1-minute E.X.O. Animated Teaser
It is important to note that Malika's world is just one corner of the behemoth that is the YouNeek Youniverse. A world filled with stories (fantasy, sci-fi, steampunk, historical fiction, etc.) that feature compelling heroes and villains. All of whom have their roots in, and are inspired by, African history, culture, and mythology. Should we reach this mark, we'll give you a taste of what
$60,000 - Malika - Warrior Queen Episode 2!!!
We'll deliver an ADDITIONAL 6 - 7-minute episode!
You hear the word "representation matters" thrown around a lot. But I wanted to describe to you exactly what it means with a true story.
A friend of mine once told me a story. He said one day while grabbing my book in a comic book shop, he saw a young girl browsing the shelves. She stumbled upon my book Malika: Warrior Queen and her eyes lit up! Immediately, she started to call out to her father "Daddy! Daddy! Come see!" Her father hurried to see what all the fuss was about. And when he got there she said to him "Look, daddy, she looks like me!"
This stuff matters.
Risks and challenges
Having run 4 successful Kickstarter (and delivering all rewards to all backers) before, I am fully confident and also very well prepared to run this Kickstarter smoothly. However, should any issues arise, I plan on handling them in a professional manner. I will also be sending frequent messages via the Kickstarter updates thread to keep everyone informed on progress. I believe in 100% transparency and you guys deserve nothing less.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)