- In film, programs such as the MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) -- an educational programme that develops emerging TV and film talent in Africa have contributed to the great leap and potential of Africa’s film industry.
Dar es Salaam. Showcasing Africa’s diversity and rich culture through storytelling deep-rooted in history is something that gives the continent an undiluted identity and keeps the rich legacy intact. However, growing Africa’s creative industries into vibrant, economic hubs is something that needs to be given undivided attention.
In film, programs such as the MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) -- an educational programme that develops emerging TV and film talent in Africa have contributed to the great leap and potential of Africa’s film industry.
MTF is done through an accredited 12-month immersion programme including both theory and hands-on experience in cinematography, editing, audio production and storytelling. It is the first academy of its kind, spanning three regions and 13 countries across Africa.
The Citizen had the opportunity to interview Victoria Goro. She is currently the director of MTF East Africa Academy and has accrued more than 30 years of experience in the Film Industry. We talked for about half an hour in the midst of their candidate search. It was illuminating to receive a first-hand perspective on the philosophy of such an endeavour.
What do you expect to find in your search in Tanzania?
I am looking for extremely passionate and talented young men and women. Coming from a country with strong training practices in film as a specific discipline, I think Tanzania has produced some of the best students that we have at MTF.
Each one of the previous students from Tanzania who were in the Academy has gone on to craft really accomplished careers in film making.
Could you give me some names?
Yes, I can share a couple of really recent ones. Students from the class of 2019, which was the first class, have gone on to win the Chairman’s Award in the recently-concluded Zanzibar International Film Festival.
The film is called Mvamizi (Directed by Philipo Ngonyani). Ngonyani was a producer and an alumni of the MultiChoice Talent Factory East Africa, 2020 Class. I can say the same for a production company that was established in 2019.
A young lady – who we say is the greatest producer to have graduated from MTF – Jane Moshi went on to do a Maisha Magic Movie film called Frida.
Wilson Nkya is also a very successful graduate of our academy. Really, in school, he was prolific in the area of production design.
We’ve been able to see that move on into the work that he has done for a production company in Nairobi – working as a consultant producer, doing a lot of corporate videos etc. There are many other talented individuals who have come through the MultiChoice Talent Factory. It is an epic group of young men and women that we couldn’t be prouder of in terms of what they have been able to achieve so early in their careers.
How has this current search been going?
From shortlisting the candidates from Nairobi to meeting them in Dar es Salaam. That is already one really big achievement.
I’m listening to each one of them, and from me, in my heart, I am more and more convinced that I shortlisted the right people.”
What was the shortlisting process?
They applied in May, we get them for one month, from the 7th of May to the 17th of June. A lot of the applications were done online. We had some challenges in the beginning, mostly technical, but, we were able to overcome them.
Remember, we operate in four countries -- Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia – all of us with our own connectivity issues. With that said, we, in East Africa had close to 400 applicants from the region.
Out of 400, how many get inducted into the academy?
Given the very intense nature of this programme and the fact that we are giving a one-year experiential learning programme, where we really want them to hone their skills in film and TV production – with the ultimate aim of them being able to contribute to the professional and technical value chain – we are only able to take 20 students per year.
What are some of the things that you believe are lacking in African filmmaking? Anything specific?
One of the biggest areas that I feel we need much more done in Africa – across the whole continent – is in the area of sound. 70 percent of any film is sound.
In Africa, we’re not investing enough in that particular area. We need to think of sound beyond just what we record on location. We need to start thinking about post-production sound. I really think, in that particular area, many countries in Africa fall short.
How much importance do you put on the element of writing at the academy? Do you take a certain responsibility in helping tell the stories of Africa?
One of the really important taglines at the MultiChoice Talent Factory is, ‘inspired storytelling.’ If you look through our curriculum, we’re probably training institution that offers scriptwriting to all twenty students.
They spend close to six months developing the story together. So, out of a one-year program, half of that time is spent on learning how to write.
Learning the basics of storytelling. Learning how to ensure that we have stories that are relatable, around themes that are African, around concepts that are African – with the view of being able to tell the African story ourselves. Nobody else will tell our stories. We are not misrepresented and we are not maligned by how anyone else wants to tell our stories.
So the longest component of our program is actually scriptwriting.
Storytelling is key, it is actually the bedrock upon which our program is developed.
The stories that our students are actually able to shoot as their graduation feature films are actually stories that they have developed as a group for six months.
Each one of them contributes to the element of writing.
We pick our facilitators from the industry.
We work with tried and tested writers.