Young creatives across Africa have one week remaining before the final deadline for applications for the MultiChoice Africa Talent Factory academy.
By Admire Kudita
Against a background of an increasingly competitive business environment with the likes of Kwesé Television/Iflix and Netflix vying for market share, MultiChoice has launched this initiative which appears poised to position the organisation as the go-to provider of African storytelling.
A total of 60 young and talented people from across Africa have an all-expenses-paid film training opportunity to work with talent factories spread across Africa. Independent Extra’s Admire Kudita (AK) secured an interview with the director of Southern African MultiChoice Talent Factory, Berry Lwando, who explained how the programme will be rolled out.
The Talent Factory will be housed in Zambia.
AK: What was the thinking behind the setting up of the Talent Factory initiative?
BL: We looked at Africa wide and saw where the gaps were and how the creative industry can develop and a decision was made after huge research and looking into what the market really needs. Africa is endowed with a lot of stories, but how do we craft it into a product that will be accepted by different platforms?
That is how the talent factories were developed.
AK: Why at this particular moment as opposed to other times in the past, and could the rise of competitors have a bearing on your decision?
BL: Well, each intervention has its moment. Each intervention has a lifespan. We have to begin it somewhere. For us right now, the answer is simply (that) this appears to be the right time.
You know each intervention has to be researched and has to come full circle but the critical thing is we have looked at how the industry is evolving. We are looking at other industries related to broadcasting, for instance Bollywood and Nollywood. We have the Netflixes and what’s happening in America. We looked at who is in the market. We did a broad look at the market. We looked at who are we as MultiChoice and how we want to be positioned also in the eyes of the country in which we are operating from.
AK: How long will the Talent Factory programme be in existence?
BL: We are in a three-year cycle for the programme which will be constantly reviewed and realigned and implemented. But it’s for the long term.
AK: What are the criteria and levels of prior knowledge required for potential candidates? Is there an age limit?
BL: That is a great question. The industry as a whole has different disciplines. We are going to have editors, cameramen, scriptwriters etc. So we have made a call out which ends next week. The age range is from 18 to 27 years of age. The minimum is that you have at least matric (Lower Sixth). You can have a degree or college certificate. You must show the passion and commitment. We are going to select you mostly on the passion you have.So go to the website www.multichoicetalentfactory.com and you will be engaged there.
AK: So anyone over the age limit is not eligible?
BL: Yes and no.The first aspect is the one-year training which is fully sponsored. But we have masterclasses which are related to the industry and we will carry out one in Harare and one in Bulawayo for people already in the industry. But the curriculum is not yet finalised. It will be finalised in the next two, three weeks.
The idea is that nobody is left behind. Already we have received feedback from the industry about the needs on different areas. It’s also stakeholder driven.So we are looking at the industry as a whole.
AK: Are there quotas for countries, seeing as there are several countries in Southern Africa and only 20 places up for grabs and are you at liberty to talk about the budget allocation?
BL: There is a quota for each country and Zimbabwe has two.
We are going to look at two for this year.I can only talk about the budget in broad terms. The successful candidates will have full board, food, stipend and one-way return ticket. It’s all expenses paid but nothing extravagant.
AK: How do you perceive the existential threat or let me say opportunity posed by the disruptive technology of subcription video on demand (SVOD) and the online platforms to your business model?
BL: I like how you framed the question. We perceive an opportunity rather than a threat as MultiChoice. The market is huge.
We are an African company, we belong here. This is our space and that is how we come up with these kinds of initiatives which are very Africa-specific… We are clear and it’s in our interest to make sure that we are ready to meet anybody who comes here.
We are just making the industry respond to the direction that we want to go. One of the elements in our curriculum is new media. We are trying to inculcate in our people (candidates) that this is a business. For us this is Africa united hence we have been doing the M-Net Awards. So one of our projects is the portal which will bring all these creatives together so that one can, for instance, look up Zambia and see who is there and who they can work with.