L-R: Lecturer, School of Media and Communication, Pan-Atlantic University, Dr. Mike Okolo; Managing Director, MultiChoice Nigeria, John Ugbe; Regional Director, M-Net West Africa, Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu; MTF, Academy Director for West Africa, Femi Odugbemi; and MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) Director for Africa, Cheryl Uys-Allie, at the launch of the MTF in Africa Magic/SuperSport Studios, Ilupeju, Lagos...recently

The launch of Multichoice Talent Factory in Lagos last week, promises to enhance the production of local content in the country, writes Tunde Falola

The African creative industry is set to soar higher. The propeller is the Multichoice Talent Factory (MTF), which was launched in Lagos on Wednesday. The MTF, a continent-wide programme, is conceived to create a conveyor belt of young and highly skilled professionals in television and filmmaking.

This is with a view to equipping the next generation of creative industry people across Africa with acumen to make them create wealth and jobs by being entrepreneurs as well. Speaking at the programme’s launch in Lagos, Managing Director, Multichoice Nigeria, John Ugbe, said the MTF will help mould young people in television and filmmaking into accomplished professionals via professional training in all the aspects of their craft.

“It is great to have passionate and young self-taught individuals, but we need to connect them to opportunities to acquire skills and experience to make it big in the industry. Others may have relevant qualifications but lack the practical experience and work readiness.

“Those with the skills and experience are hard to find, yet there are passionate and talented young people who cannot access skills development.

“The MTF, therefore, aims to make sure that those with the right skills and practical experience are easily accessible by the industry,” he said.

Ugbe also explained that the MTF is an opportunity for African filmmakers to take advantage of the MultiChoice brand to tell the story of Africa to Africans and the world from an African perspective.

“The MTF is an opportunity to leverage the MultiChoice brand to create a platform for African film creatives to showcase their talent, access skills development opportunities and stay current with industry trends and developments.

“We need to tell African stories, made by Africans for Africa”, he said.

The multi-level programme, which runs for two semesters, is open to applicants between the ages of 18 and 25 and kicks off on 1 October in three countries in three different African regions. Nigeria is the West African hub, while Kenya is for East Africa and Zambia for Southern Africa. Each academy will have 20 students and be headed by an accomplished local industry expert. It will also operate in partnership with recognized institutions to ensure credibility.

The academy for the West African region will be located in Nigeria and will feature 16 Nigerian students and four Ghanaians. It will have as director, Femi Odugbemi, an accomplished filmmaker and cinematographer.

The curriculum, which is currently being developed, will combine theoretical knowledge of production skills and management with practical experience. The academies will also function in partnership with local channels, studios and content providers, who are placed to directly impact beneficiaries’ career development.

In addition to the academies, the MTF Portal is another component of the project. The portal is designed to provide a platform for beneficiaries to showcase their works, access opportunities available and network in the industry. Among its functionalities are MTF Call to Entry (CTE), which kicked off on 30 May; individual/company profiles, skill-specific profiles, social media sign-on with Twitter and Facebook for sharing content and ‘refer a peer’ invitations, opportunities notice boards, regulatory profiles, industry news and new releases.

The third leg of the initiative is the MTF Masterclasses. These are workshops designed to equip established film and television personnel with advanced skills in cinematography, audio and storytelling. The MTF Masterclasses, as with the academies, will feature local and international producers, scriptwriters, directors, audio experts, MTF Academy Directors and MultiChoice staff. They are designed to remedy the age-long challenge of accessibility and opportunity for under-represented communities on DStv and GOtv platforms.

“We are excited and inspired by the many stories yet to be told. As we prepare to welcome the most deserving, young emerging, passionate filmmakers into these academies, be assured that MultiChoice Africa remains committed to ensuring that quality storytelling and story making, contributes positively to the economies we serve. This is long overdue in Africa and MultiChoice Africa is proud to champion this movement,” said Ugbe.

The MTF, explained MultiChoice, is part of the its new strategy of furthering its investments through creating shared value by using its core business resources, people, skills and networks to bring about positive societal changes that yield both ways-for the business and society.

For over two decades, MultiChoice has continued to invest in the development of original African programming and showcasing such on its DStv and GOtv platforms across 49 sub-Saharan African countries. It pioneered and popularised the African Magic channels in Nigeria and across Africa as well as making it known around the world. The company has facilitated the creation of stories into hit shows across the continent. These include Tinsel, Battleground, Hotel Majestic and Hush.

Aside from ensuring that African stories are told with fidelity and by Africans, MultiChoice’s investments in local content, as evidenced with the 2015 rebasing of the Nigerian economy, formed part of the 13 per cent contribution to the GDP by the entertainment industry.

In 2013, MultiChoice launched the Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (AMVCAs), the premium awards for filmmakers in Africa, to recognize outstanding achievements in the African film and TV industry. The company, from time to time, organizes workshops conceived to share the best content production practice around the continent.