Film enthusiasts ready for the local market

Tuesday September 10 2019

East Africa Multichoice Talent Factory

East Africa Multichoice Talent Factory graduates (MTF). 

By Mpoki Thomson

Elation filled the packed Nairobi Cinema as a new wave of African storytellers was ushered in to the film industry. The young, enthusiastic and ardent individuals from different parts of the African continent were in jubilation after having completed an immersive course in filmmaking. What these youngsters have in common, is a shared passion for the creative industry.

Their journey started a year ago following a call for entry to the Multichoice Talent Factory (MTF). MTF is an education programme aimed at furnishing deserving young, talented people who want to work – and innovate – in film and television production through skills development in accredited academies based in Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia.

20 candidates were selected from the East African region following a rigorous selection process from the assortment of submitted entries. Cumulatively over 3,000 entries were logged in from East, West and Southern Africa.

With novice knowledge on the intricacies of filmmaking, what these young scholars carried with them were hopes and dreams of making it in the film industry and assert their talents where needed. To achieve this they embarked on a journey to fulfill their purpose in the challenging African creative industry.

A first of its kind, the inaugural cohort of the MTF academy were placed under the ingenious mentorship and guardianship of renowned Kenyan filmmaker and MTF East Africa academy director Njoki Muhoho. Under her stewardship these raw talents managed to sharpen their skills in filmmaking – right from directing, producing, writing, editing, sound engineering – an array of areas of proficiency.

To unearth inner creativity, an immersive training experience ensued, aiming to avail the group of vibrant protégés to the inner workings of the film world. To attain this goal, the 1-year study programme saw the 20 students tap into their imaginative minds to traverse the film complexities with the hope of graduating as accomplished filmmakers. The intensive, practical training in all matters film involved a comprehensive curriculum compromising theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience in cinematography, editing, audio production and storytelling.

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The students also got a chance to have sessions with experts in film from across Africa and beyond. These accomplished figures in the creative industry shared their expertise and experience. Experts from New York (New York Film Academy of Visual and Performing Arts), DOLBY sound experts were all retained to offer students much needed training and grooming.

Following the initiation of the talent factory in Nairobi, Kenya where the East African camp is based, Tanzania was represented by 4 individuals with prodigious talent in film. Jamal Kishuli, Jane Moshi, Wilson Nkya and Sarah Kimario were part of the first cohort in a programme that will hopefully be the saving grace of African film industry.

With no film affiliation prior to joining the talent factory, Wilson didn’t quite feel at home at first when he entered the academy. “I had no idea on the technical aspect of film,” he says. But with the help from his colleagues and the academy director he gradually got to learn more about what the film industry entails.

In contrast, fellow MTF schoalr, Jamal, had a smoother landing thanks in part to his degree in film and television from the University of Dar es Salaam. This programme helped him enhance his skillsets in various areas, with particular focus on directing.

Jane Moshi, just like Jamal, had academic background in film – having studied a degree course in television at the University of Namibia. She, however, didn’t have the practical experience of working in the film industry. This programme gave her the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with other experts in film. “I didn’t know what to expect when I applied for the programme, but it was exciting to meet other young people with a passion for film,” she said during an interview with Success.

From strangers to family

Academy director Njoki spoke of her fondness for the students, whom she considers to be family – having been nicknamed ‘mama’ during the course of the programme. “The moment I met these young men and women I knew they had a lot to offer to Africa. They exuded so much excitement, determination and passion for film,” she said while giving formal farewell remarks at the graduation ceremony.

The graduation, a farewell marker, was backed by the presence of government dignitaries such as Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary Ministry of ICT Joe Mucheru, Executive Secretary – Film Board of Tanzania Dr Kiagho Kilonzo, Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) Ezekiel Mutua and Head of Multimedia and Content – Uganda Communications Commission.

The MTF programme was made successful in collaboration with Kenyatta University.

The Kenyan higher learning institute, an academic partner working hand-in-hand with the students throughout the programme, shared in the joy of seeing all students graduate successfully. Prof. Paul Wainaina, who’s the university’s Vice Chancellor expressed his delight to see these young talents receive such unique training in the film sphere in East Africa. “Kenyatta University is proud to have been the academic institution of choice for this program, and we hope to see more such kinds of collaborations in the future,” he said.

In the final phase of their training programme, students were tasked to work on movie projects which would be reviewed by the MTF panel and later be submitted for consideration to the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA). The movies will also air on DSTV channels; Maisha Magic Bongo (Tanzania), Pearl Magic (Uganda), Maisha Magic East (Kenya), and ShowMax.

Divided in to two groups of 10 students a side, they managed to come up with creative ideas to get the job done. The end result saw the birth of two movies: Ensulo, which was directed by Jamal Kishuli in collaboration with other students. The second movie – Promises, was directed by two students; one from Kenya, the other from Uganda. With talent in abundance, the creative minds managed to produce two great films.

Amidst cheers from family members and friends present at the graduation ceremony, the new alumni were awarded certificates for completing the course. But that wasn’t the only takeaway. Special recognition and rewards were given to students who exhibited exceptional talent – deserving of further accolades.

For her outstanding performance, Tanzania’s Jane Moshi was awarded a two weeks Bollywood production internship.

Other awards that went to deserving students included an 8-week internship at New York Film Academy and an award for top promising sound editor.

Back in Tanzania, the four country representatives, newly-trained experts in film have a lot planned to further their pursuits in the industry.

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