Partnerships among upcoming TV channels and Cable TV companies are increasingly fuelling the Kenyan film industry. One such partnership between Kijiji and Zuku has delivered a world class Kenyan production called Groove Theory, which earned 4 nominations in this year’s Kalasha Film and TV Awards. The nominations came after its first series, which premiered in November 2013.
“The show was a co-production, Kijiji Entertainment provided content, while Zuku distributed and marketed the show,” said Kanjii Mbugua, the CEO of Kijiji Entertainment and producer of Groove Theory, which is the first musical series in Kenya.
The decision to now shoot a second series of Groove Theory was triggered by the show’s immediate success, and the assertion that both parties shared the same production qualities and standards.
A 2013 report by the Kenya Film Commission indicates that of the 44 million people in Kenya, 30.8 million can access to basic media, representing 70 percent. Out of this, 51.2 percent are active viewers. However, local programming reaches just a quarter of the population, Afro Cinema and telanovelas reach 35 percent, while Hollywood movies dominate with a 40 percent market share.
This means local producers are yet to understand what appeals to local audiences, and are still struggling to market the films to their targeted markets.
A recent report released during the AITEC Broadcast, Film and Music Africa 2014 states that the biggest challenge in filmmaking in Africa is distribution and marketing. The report further suggests the need for filmmakers to work together with sponsors to gain an advantage in such kind of markets.
The emerging trend of partnerships with pay TVs or local channels is now making this challenge easy for producers. The producer does his research and makes the right programme for a targeted station. This means he gives up the rights to exclusivity to broadcasters, but in return gets major sponsorship, international sales and exposure.
However, African filmmakers have assumed all roles in production, which has taken a toll on the success of their productions. According to research done on the perspectives of the Nigerian film audience, many African filmmakers, in order to be able to write and film, become many things in one or make videos and films on commission where no specific person does a specific task. This makes it difficult for the producer to handle content creation, marketing and distribution, leading to major losses to the film.
The research also points to the need for African film producers to improve on their creativity and acquire more theoretical and technical knowledge in order to enhance their expertise and produce quality films that measure up to internationally acceptable standards.
“African film producers must strive to produce films of high production quality; films with different and distinct, rather than similar themes; films featuring different artists or talents rather than repeated, similar faces; and films with different, rather than similar, titles and story lines released at close intervals. They can only do this professionally through partnerships” said Kanjii.