An ongoing long-term investment by MultiChoice in developing talent for the content, production and entertainment industry is having an impact across the Africa – and helping to grow vibrant new economic hubs across the continent.
This investment – the Multichoice Talent Factory (MTF) – is a shared-value initiative that provides a platform for the TV and film industries to develop talent and build partnerships.
“In 2018, we committed ourselves to building the skills base in the TV industry through the MultiChoice Talent Factory,” says MTF Director for Africa Nwabisa Matyumza. “Now, after four years of operation, we are seeing our graduates enter the economy – which is having a multiplier effect on the development of our sector across the continent.”
There are MTF Academies in Kenya (for East Africa), Nigeria (for West Africa) and Zambia (for Southern Africa), run in partnership with respected local academic Universities.
The academies offer an accredited 12-month immersion programme including both theory and hands-on experience in film production. Each year, 60 African students get the chance to hone their skills through partnerships with global industry players like the New York Film Academy, Canon and Dolby, amongst others.
MTF alumni now occupy significant industry roles across the continent.MTF graduates are working as directors, producers, sound designers, camera operators, art directors and editors on major African productions including Salem, Tempted, Engaito, Mvamizi, Mum vs Wife, Makofi and County 49.
Other alumni are working further afield on productions by French (Film Plug), German (DW Akademie) and Polish organisations. Some are furthering their studies at institutions like the New York Film Academy (NYFA), or as part of the Mandela Washington fellowship programme.
MTF Academy West Africa Director Atinuke Babatunde sees entrepreneurial success as a significant feather in the academy’s cap.
“The greatest achievement by our alumni is having the ability to set up their own production companies, which can contribute to not only the creative space but also to the economy of their countries,” she says.
Atinuke says she is especially proud to see alumni go on to produce great content on global platforms across the world, and to see them meeting specific local industry needs.
“In West Africa, for instance, we have seen MTF graduates play a role in raising the standard of sound production. We have regular sound masterclasses with the Dolby team, and one of our alumni is now seen as one of the leading sound specialists in the industry.”
In Southern Africa, the biggest MTF impact has been in the area of technical capacity.
“With the advent of MTF, the pool of well-trained professionals available to production houses and TV stations has grown significantly,” says MTF Southern Region Director Chris Puta. “In the process, these media platforms are able to save money and time that they would otherwise have spent training their own media workers.”
Puta says the MTF Academy in Zambia is contributing to developing the local industry, which can now compete with more established film and television regions across the continent.
“I realised MTF was making a powerful impact in our region after we submitted our student short films for the AMVCA awards. Pitted against East and West Africa, our film Nyau got a great response from an audience of industry professionals.”
In East Africa, films by alumni from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya have gone on to win top awards across the continent. Engaito won Best MTF Film at the recent eighth AMVCA awards; Egna won the Best International Award at the Kalasha International Film Festival in Nairobi and Wavamizi won the Chairman’s Award at the Zanzibar International Film Festival.
For MTF East Africa Academy Director Victoria Goro, the Academy proves its worth when MTF alumni enter the industry, and begin creating work that resonates with African audiences.
“Last year alone, production companies started by MTF East Africa alumni successfully bid and were commissioned to produce six films under the Maisha Magic East and Showmax banner, while two TV reality shows were produced under the Honey Channel banner,” says Goro.
“Our alumni are part of the continent-wide move to inspired storytelling – keeping viewers and communities informed, entertained and connected,” says Goro. “In each country in the region, our alumni are to be found in the writing teams of hit TV dramas and telenovelas.”
Ultimately, though, the proof of the pudding is in how MTF graduates are able to impact the sector.
Many MTF graduates have become entrepreneurs, having established 38 production companies that employ other young people, contributing to economic success in their countries. Others are developing shows and providing screenwriting services in Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique.
“The next generation of African TV and film professionals is helping to shape the future of our industry,” says Matyumza. “And we’re proud that MTF is playing a key role in this development. It’s an investment that will pay off in decades to come, in the form of quality African content and entertainment.