Life After SAE Series: Aninka Badenhorst (Jonck)

02 Oct 2017



Life After SAE Series: Aninka Badenhorst (Jonck)

02 Oct 2017

At 25 years of age Aninka Badenhorst realised that she could indeed follow her passion and love for animation.

In her own words she admits that the idea of committing to 3 or 4 more years of studying did not appeal to her, after having chosen a more conventional career path earlier in her adult life. 

But she was not happy with where she was and yearned to pursue her creative aspirations.

Her research led her to the one year Higher Certificate in Animation and Visual Effects course at SAE and the decision was made.

Today Aninka is a Departmental Production Manager at Triggerfish, one of South Africa’s leading animation studios. 

This is her story…

“While learning explore all the avenues you can.” 

Aninka Badenhorst


You decided to study Animation a little later in life than most; do you recall that decisive moment when you decided ‘let’s go for it?’ 

Yes, it was when I was watching Tangled 3D. 

The floating lantern scene came on and a little girl jumped up next to me with such excitement and wonder. At that moment I knew I wanted to be a part of creating that memory for children and families. 

One simple decision can change one’s life significantly. Looking back now at where your career is, and then considering that life changing moment when you decided to enrol and study Animation in 2013, does it all make perfect sense now? 

As a whole, yes.

When I was younger I was always fascinated with Animation, but I thought it was normal. As life went on I had an idea of what it meant to ‘grow up’ and that didn’t include animation as we are told that it is for children. 

I tried to make decisions for my future based on mainstream career paths, studied and did internships, but I really did not enjoy it.

Then one day I found an old Aladdin DVD and watched it and my spark came back.

I loved animation and would not be ashamed about it but I did not know it was an actual career option. 

As time went on I found other possible career paths, but when I put the time into doing the research and found that Animation was a viable option, I took it.

Although you graduated with a One Year Higher Certificate in Animation you actually ended up gaining quite a lot of work experience in general film production work… 

I loved the excitement of live action and learned so much from my mentors, but I was always clear about my end goal and at certain crossroads had to make decisions that would lead me to animation. 

Departmental Production Manager at Triggerfish studios sounds like a dream job for aspirant animators. Tell us a bit about what you do there and how you are able to use the skills you learnt from studying Animation. Aninka Badenhorst

Being a Departmental Production Manager means I manage various departments and their personal within a production. I am also the bridge between the Director, Producers and Leads (Head of Departments). 

I manage, co-ordinate and facilitate the smooth running of these departments which can be anything from the planning of the department(s)’ workload and delivery dates to helping artists with their daily requirements/problems. 

Having an education (even a brief one) in Animation gives me a better understanding of the problems that a particular artist or department may have and I am able to help brainstorm solutions.

I have an understanding of the animation pipeline so I am able to better predict if one department falls behind/does not do something right, how that would affect the future departments and/or project as a whole. 

“I feel we as a country are starting to become true contenders in the fields of animation and film production.”

What is your impression of the South African creative industry as a whole? 

South African creative industry is a very large industry as it can encompass not only film but also design. 

I feel we as a country are starting to become true contenders in the fields of animation and film production. We have very talented people and have proven time and time again that we can deliver equal (if not better) work. 

Having said that I feel we still have to start producing more content that was written, funded and made in South Africa. 

This is something I know we (the film industry) are starting to focus on more which is brilliant, but we still have a way to go in getting support for the people who are trying to get projects funded, written or getting more people into the industry as a whole. 

Your time at SAE Cape Town; will you remember it with fondness? 

Yes, I most certainly will. 

The Head of Department at the time, Gary Kachelhoffer, was my mentor and friend. 

He made coming to class and learning amazing because he (to this day) is the only person I have come across who loves Animation as much as I do and being able to walk into SAE classes with that type of energy was great. 

I was always excited to come to class and learn. 

One piece of advice you’d like to offer future/present SAE sound students? 

While learning explore all the avenues you can. 

When you leave try and get a variety of jobs so that you can find the position which inspires you then make your career goal clear in your head. Once you know which career path you want to end up in, ensure each decision you make in your career is in some way taking you one step closer. 

Also remember that sometimes the decision that will take you one step closer may mean taking two steps back/starting from the beginning again – do not let that scare you. 

Finally; what are your long-term aspirations? 

My career goal is to be a Producer and create films/shorts which are not only beautiful but tell stories that would stay with children/families for a while. 

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