It is Lights, Camera and Action in Africa!

30 Sep

Africa is an exciting and beautiful continent, rich in culture, pride and tradition. I have had the pleasure and blessing of being able to travel to many of its countries from East to West and of course the South. It was just the other day, when I was sitting in Kampala, sipping a glass of Rose, with a dear friend of mine. We began, as always talking about the TV and film industry and how exciting the development has been.

 Approximately a decade ago there was an explosion with in the industry in West Africa, from the rise of Nigerian Hip hop, through Naeto C, Ikechukwu, DJ Sascha and many many more. Nollywood had been formed and a new school of filmmaking emerged from western Africa.

A lot of eyes have been on West African entertainment scene and although there has been a tremendous amount of traction within East Africa, I personally believe that we are on the cusp of a powerful explosion, where if its done right, East Africa could really lead the way in terms of TV and film making.

Why do I believe this?

In 2013 I was invited to head the judging panel, at the UCC Ugandan Film Festival. Our duties were to watch and assess the films that were submitted to the festival. Throughout my career, I have sat on judging panels of a number of festivals, pageants etc. This festival was a lot more innovative and exciting as it was exclusive only to Ugandans. There were no foreign film submissions. What better way to promote your own film industry, than by celebrating what is truly local. What I discovered was that there was an abundance of talent through the scripts, storylines, directing and production as a whole.

 I loved the fact that many of the scripts portrayed various angles that truly depicted Ugandan traditions, cultures and lifestyle. There were strong political influences. One particular film was State Research Bureau , directed by Matt Bish. This film achieved the following accolades:

Official Selection: African Film Festival Lagos (Nigeria), ZIFF, AMAA (2 nominations), KIFF, Pearl International Film Festival (7 nominations), Africa in the Picture International Film Festival Amsterdam 2012 (Winner Best Ugandan Feature Film, Cinematography, Producer, Screenplay and Actor Awards at PIFF, Kampala). It’s a story based on Uganda‘s dark past and exposes the brutality of the President’s secret intelligence police that ran safe houses.

 I had the great opportunity of being invited back to UCC Film Festival 2014 again, where I lead a panel discussion on where African cinema is. Once again the content and film selection portrayed the same, if not a higher quality of films. It was then that I realised that the East African explosion had begun in Uganda. For many outsiders looking at Africa, when they hear of Eats Africa, it is all about Kenya, being the hub and Zanzibar for the pristine white beached and crystal blue seas.

 This year, I made the brave decision to spend a substantial amount of time in Kampala. Over the past six months, I managed to engage with a lot of the key players within the TV industry. I had the opportunity of working with some of East Africa’s most passionate and talented individuals from video editors, to programmers, to cameramen and producers and of course talent. As innovation is on the rise, new techniques, models, equipment etc are being introduced to the market at an incredibly fast rate, working with a team who, although did not have direct access to all the innovations, worked tirelessly at achieving the optimum and keeping ahead with the countries level of entertainment.

 So where to from here?

We have the passion and drive, we still lacking the expertise but that will happen with diligence and training and knowing how others operate and what regulations are put in place.

In this blog, I will focus on the talent and as I continue to write various other blogs related to the topic, I aim to engage in all departments within the production phases. I will start with the talent as that is where I started as in my career. Talent/artists are always the last to be considered and understood along with cameramen and the technical. On arrival in Uganda, one of the esteemed cameramen said to me that they were just a cameraman: I replied that they should never just relegate themselves to ‘just’ anybody. If a production does not have a cameraman they one does not have pictures, in the same breathe, if you do not have talent, you cannot tell a story. I was reminded about that conversation at a later stage and I then realized the impact of my words.

 So nurturing raw talent is absolutely phenomenal, its real it has no boundaries and its enigmatic. Everyday I was surprised at the level of energy, innovation and enthusiasm. My main concern was with how the brands would be established and how to protect them from the exploitation. That is a task that not only one person can achieve but over time, through regulation and following specific universal standards, people will be informed an competent.

 So in conclusion of this section, my advices to the artists/talent out there are the following:

Follow this guideline sand you should be on the right track:

  • Decide on who you want to become. Whatever it is an actor, TV presenter, musician or speaker, know your craft and focus on that one, until you are completely ready then move onto the next phase.
  • Learn the craft. Through classes, watching shows, finding a mentor.
  • Understand how the industry works.
  • If acting is your passion, learn about character development, the importance of breaking down scripts, understanding and finding the nuances and arcs. You cannot receive a script at 07h00 and shoot a scene at 09h00 and expect it to be brilliant. Character development takes time and patience.
  • Understand that you working to becoming a formidable brand, just like Nike, Coca Cola etc.
  • Know your rights: Always read your contracts.
  • When you get to the level of having an agent. There has been a lot of speculation on this area. Firstly you should not be paying an upfront fee for agents. Agents should take a % commission of the work that they have secured for you. It was just a few days ago that I heard of a Pseudo agent extorting $500 from an up coming artist. I asked what the services were for and they were to secure auditions. During the 18-month period that this artist had been paying this woman, she never attended any auditions, nor did she secure any lucrative endorsement deal. Be aware of such charlatans
  • The casting couch: Its real and now its not just restricted to women.
  • The casting couch is used in reference to the supposed practice whereby actors or actresses are awarded parts in movies, plays, or other productions in return for granting sexual favors to the casting director.
  • Never compromise your integrity.
  • Live through your passion.
  • If it does not feel right, listen to that inner voice.
  • When the passion dries up, its time to move on.
  • Always prepare for your exit.
  • Always be ready to learn more.

 

For guidance and information on the TV and film industry, feel free to follow me on my social media platforms through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. 

More information can be found via www.rosiemotene.biz

One Response to “It is Lights, Camera and Action in Africa!”

  1. Actors' Voice. October 3, 2016 at 9:03 am #

    Reblogged this on philisiwetwijnstra.

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