Talent Factory: Game changer?

M-NET director for East and Southern Africa Channels Timothy Okwaro making the case for Zambezi Magic at the MultiChoice Content in Randburg, South Africa, last week.

THE deficiencies of local filmmakers are well-known and documented – the lack of training.
You can actually say that about the entire African continent.
“To a large extent, our African film industry remains informal and is characterised by self-taught filmmakers who are hungry for that 15 minutes of fame,” says Cheryl Uys-Allie, MultiChoice Talent Factory director at MultChoice Africa.
“Most knock on unanswered doors in their quest to take African stories to the rest of the world.”
This is where the MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) stems from.
Uys-Allie says as a video entertainment company, MultiChoice has a responsibility to represent the continent and create opportunity to tell authentic African stories.
The MTF was launched in May 2018, and is the first of its kind, spanning three regions and 13 countries across Africa. The factory has selected 60 individuals to participate in a 12-month programme that includes both the theory and hands-on experience in cinematography, editing, audio productions and storytelling.
The students are getting the chance to hone their film and TV production skills alongside industry greats. The year-long- funded programme is being offered through academies in Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia, in partnership with local institutions, which for the Southern region, is the Zambia Institute of Mass Communications (ZAMCOM).
“Our continent is steeped in a rich and diverse history of living passionately through language, art, music and colourful storytelling,” Uys-Allie says.
“The African development story has been defined by investments in its vast mineral wealth and less so in developing our people outside of those sectors. As a result, Africa’s creative industries have not developed at the same rate as other industries on the continent.
“Through the MultiChoice Talent Factory, we are reaffirming our commitment to emerging local talent whilst creating a pipeline of compelling original African stories for our M-Net channels, namely; Africa Magic, Maisha Magic East, Maisha Magic Bongo, Pearl Magic and Zambezi Magic.
“Alongside the academies, MultiChoice Talent Factory will run masterclasses open to the industry as well as launching the MultiChoice Talent Factory Portal where Africa’s film and television professionals can showcase their work, access job opportunities, catch up on industry news, view on-line masterclasses and expand their professional network.”
The MTF curriculum is set to provide an end-to-end solution for the entire industry covering all aspects of the value chain of filmmaking. These will be based on the business of film; film appreciation; fundamentals of production; cross media/digital laboratory; experiential learning/immersion; and student film.
The business of film is meant to enhance the students’ future and success in either film entrepreneurship or employee in successful film business while film appreciation will take the student on a journey through the world of film and gain them working knowledge of the diverse artistic and practical elements of filmmaking as well as film critique.
Under fundamentals of productions, students will gain in-depth technical skills in production of high quality content and they will also stay ahead of the game with emerging technology while appreciating how to develop content for transmedia and cross platform distribution under cross media.
When it comes to experiential learning, students will receive hands-on practical skills in applying knowledge learnt.
And under student film, the students will deliver two long-form films at the end of their course. These films will be broadcast on the DStv platform by the respective M-Net regional channels. Students’ films will also compete in the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCAs) in a student category.
“Students will be encouraged to learn more about the trends in and the future of the industry. Sustainability is critical to the MultiChoice Talent Factory curriculum – students will need to understand the role of audience research, copyright issues, intellectual copyright, taxes and the components of an income-generating business,” reads a chapter in the MultiChoice Talent Factory publication themed ‘Igniting Africa’s Creative Industries’.
“Through this curriculum, students will be challenged to think ahead, i.e. as they are thinking of the story they want to tell, they will need to think about the channels where it will be featured and what will happen to the content in the next 10 years.”
Berry Lwando, who boasts of many years of experience working for the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) is the MultiChoice Talent Factory academy director for Southern Africa.
He says: “I am truly inspired to be a part of this great African renaissance. For Southern Africa, the MultiChoice Talent Factory answers the questions of the advancement in film production we have asked for a long time and provides us the local content solution we have desired. Nothing can be more rewarding to our creative industries.
“At its heart, the initiative aims to ignite Africa’s creative industries, transforming the film sector. Skilled and experienced professionals in this industry are scare. We want to be part of the solution that helps to proactively grow this skills base while uniting the African film sector into one formalised, professional industry.”
Lwando believes the talent factory is preparing the industry for tomorrow as it will adequately train and upskill young African creatives by providing them with valuable hands-on industry experience that will give them the confidence to take on Hollywood.
“Yes, it is not about delivering a certificate… The academy will not only ensure a pool of highly trained and experienced young creatives is made available to the industry each year, but also significantly enhance the quality of local content productions.”
The 20 students selected for the inaugural academy, after a two-month long process of shortlisting candidates, are already at ZAMCOM.
MultiChoice and ZAMCOM signed a partnership agreement to house the academy for the southern region. The partnership agreement comprises a lease agreement for the academic premises of the academy as well as the accommodation of 20 students from across the region at ZAMCOM Lodge.
For MultiChoice, running the academy at ZAMCOM signifies its commitment to develop, the local film and television industry.
MultiChoice believes that two platforms that are critical to growing the film and television industries in the country are the Zambia Film and Television Awards (ZAFTAS) and the Sotambe Documentary Film and Arts Festival, which it sponsors.
Several directors and producers whose works have been honoured through these events have also been given access to the DStv platform through Zambezi Magic.
Since its inception in 2015, the channel has worked with over 20 productions in the country by way of licensing and commissioning content in the country.
But nothing perhaps has so far been as ambitious as the talent factory in helping to develop the local film and television industry – the MultiChoice Talent Factory does truly appear like a game changer.

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