Brian Asingia and Franco Abott are the co-founders of the Pearl Dream, the production company behind The Dutchman and the Snake! And this week they’re the subjects of our batteryPOP creator interview!
batteryPOP: What made you decide to start the Pearl Dream?
BRIAN ASINGIA: Franco Abott, CTO, and I both studied here in the US for school and notice the lack of easily accessible African edutainment. Our initial focus was to illustrate folk stories but we have grown into both folk stories and original stories from writers all over Africa. Our mission is now to create and share authentic African experiences on and offline.
bPOP: Where/when were you first exposed to these stories?
BRIAN: As soon as I could listen, back in Uganda. I heard them from my grandparents and it was always a moment I shared. The stories became longer and adventurous the older I got and it always seemed like there was a story behind why we lived the way we did. As a kid, it helps keep life interesting as you learn new words, discover new places and cultures through stories.
bPOP: How is hearing a story told aloud different than reading a story?
BRIAN: Personally, reading a story allows me to engage with the characters and visualize them in my mind using my experience and knowledge. Hearing a story on the other hand allows the listener to enjoy the story from the storyteller’s perspective, as if on a journey, an adventure with the storyteller as the guide. Users of our DreamAfrica app enjoy both of these experiences.
bPOP: How do you decide what version of a story to do?
We have a large catalog of stories. Because of our focus on authenticity, we try to represent all regions of Africa while being culturally sensitive. Thus we rotate from South African to West African etc. to keep the diversity of stories live. For now, our goal is to do stories on a bi-weekly basis after successful funding because kids just wanna see more videos after viewing Dutchman and Snake.
bPOP: Is there a folktale you haven’t produced yet that you are excited to make?
BRIAN: Yes. "King Chameleon and the Animals.” It focuses on a time when animals need a leader and decided to elect one...due to a failure to reach a consensus, a physical race is held and well, someone gets caught in the act of cheating. We are excited because it will feature beautiful African scenes, lots of animal characters, and most of all, educate kids on values of good and honest leadership.
bPOP: Who is your favorite folk character and why?
BRIAN: Anansi. He is from West Africa, full of wit. He has also made appearances in major African works by Chinua Achebe (R.I.P) so I read about him a lot and thought he helped embody African cultural elements of learning through stories full of wisdom.
bPOP: When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
BRIAN: Be an Engineer... The version in my mind was the mechanical engineer in their overalls free from the uniform requirements of suits or coats for businessmen and doctors respectively.
FRANCO: I on the other hand wanted to be an Architect and dreamt of building great cities with attention to every last detail (like the drainage system :) ) Yes, I was quite particular.
bPOP: What was your favorite cartoon when you were a kid?
FRANCO: My favorite cartoon was Dexter. I wished I could have a secret lab under my house as a kid.
Thanks to Brian and Franco for answering our questions! Be sure to check out The Dutchman and The Snake HERE!