That he loved books several years back may not register when you find Raymond Malinga behind the computer making his creations tell a story.
However, the 29-year-old animator had actually nurtured the dream of becoming an author. But when he discovered that with animation one would not only tell a story but also illustrate it, Malinga was sold in.
“Animations appealed to me for its ability to combine story telling with visuals and movement,” he says. The seed was sown by a friend in high school during O-Level.
“He showed me how the illusion of movement could be achieved by placing successive drawings one after another.” This happened to be similar to what he had been doing during his primary school days at the corner of every book he could find. He learned that this was called Flipbook animation.
That is why he studied Animation and Visual Effects at Multimedia University Cyberjaya in Malaysia. And for his choice of that university, Malinga says, “Back between 2009 and 2010, there were hardly any animation schools around Kampala, and if any, they were not providing the kind of training I was looking for.”
Initially, he had wanted to study in USA and Japan because they were the largest animation markets at the time, but USA was too expensive at the time for his parents who were taking a huge gamble investing in a degree that had no firm footing back at home.
“Thankfully Malaysia had a more affordable option at the time and I put it in my head that no matter where I went I would do just as well as long as I had the correct mind-set.”
After graduation in September 2015, Malinga worked with Wau Animation Studio Malaysia as a concept developer, animator and screen writer. It was here that he met Usamah Zaid, founder and CEO of Wau Animation who would later become his mentor.
Malinga would later move back home on December 22, 2014, quitting his job at Wau Animation.
“I desired to start an animation studio back home. However, the start, February 2015, was naturally difficult because the market was unknown and unpredictable. Nonetheless, I was determined to thrive because there were not that many players in the market despite the glaring need of the services animation provides.”
Malinga reminisces of the first year of operation of his company Creatures Company. “We made a grand amount of zero shillings. My brother and I still laugh at it to this day.”
Indeed, having the creative talent is one thing and running business is another and, he says, “I have generally tried to attend workshops on entrepreneurship and business to help improve my understanding of workplace management, project management and financial literacy. I also seek wisdom from smart business people who have achieved success in our country and continent.”
Malinga always aims for his content to be able to reach a family audience.
“Let’s say, something a parent or grandparent can watch over an extended period of time and enjoy together with their younger family members.
But to narrow it down, I always hope to reach pre-teens because I think it is at this age that children start forming opinions on what and who they can be in the future,” he shares, adding that he mainly gets his clients through recommendations.
Malinga’s proudest moment is when he and his team completed A kalabanda ate my Homework, a multi-award winning short film. “Standing at the premiere and inviting my teammates up onto stage one by one was amazing!”
It started in 2015 when he and his brother set out to produce the film despite having no team, money or certainty in sight. In 2017, the film was finally completed by a team of joining artists that are still our teammates to this day.
“My goal was to make everyone who was part of that film get an award, just one... we have six award wins so far and about 13 nominations, including a screening at the largest film festival in the world, the Cannes Film festival in 2018,” he says
It was difficult for Malinga as a designer to wrap his head around business and economics, “But I believe I am slowly growing to meet the challenge. My approach has been to ask as many questions as possible and seek out knowledge.”
His company also faces difficulty in finding skilled labour in the country. “We eventually resorted to training and investing in our own team in order to achieve what we want. We still have a lot to do but believe we are moving in the right direction.”
“We aim at growing our business to a capacity capable of handling large scale film production and have gained significant continental recognition.
Creatures Company’s next project is ‘Superstar Suubi’, an action adventure animated series.
Today, he has a team that consists of his brother Robin Malinga who is also the chief operations officer. Tim Hook, the technical artist handling rigging, simulations and post production work, Jemimah Atim, Paul Bwengye, Alan Buyinga and Francis Nakishero who form the core animation team handling the animation and the production work. There is also William Minga, Jonah Ssebuliba, Angel Atim and Joe Taga, who form the concept developing team.