According to UNESCO in 2021, Africa’s film and audiovisual industries employ an estimated 5 million people and account for US$ 5 billion in GDP across the continent.
In Nigeria alone, the financial value of the film industry is reportedly put at $6.4 billion as of 2021. Nollywood contributes 2.3 percent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with over 2500 movies produced annually.
These figures tell the story that entertainment is not a laughing matter but big business, through which the continent can make its mark on the global stage. It has then become imperative to carefully nurture the next generation of African creatives, to not only tell African stories but do so in a fashion that meets global standards of production and technology.
Of course, film schools abound on the continent but most are beyond the reach of many, in terms of financial implications, leaving a void and a community of untapped talent. It is this void, MultiChoice Talent Factory desires to fill and since 2018 when it berthed, it has been doing a commendable job of it.
In his inauguration speech of the Academy in 2018, the CEO of Multichoice, John Ugbe said the MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF), is MultiChoice’s flagship Corporate Social Value program, adding that it is a significant investment that testifies to their commitment to helping Africa’s creative industries grow into vibrant, economic powerhouses.
MTF is a program, stretching across three sub-regions and 13 countries in Africa. It is structured in three components namely: MTF Academy, MTF Masterclass and the MTF Portal. The regional MTF Academies are based in Nigeria, representing West Africa; Kenya, representing East Africa; and Zambia, representing Southern Africa. The academies are headed by local industry experts and provide a fully-funded year-long training program for aspiring filmmakers.
For the MTF West Africa Academy, the aspiring filmmakers admitted into the year-long program are from Nigeria and Ghana. A group of 20 students are selected annually after being chosen from an entry pool of thousands of applicants who undergo a rigorous interview process by the judging panel of film and television experts.
By its fourth anniversary, MTF has honed the skills of many emerging TV and Film production professionals in 13 countries across Africa. The initiative has created an MTF Alumni Network of skilled graduates that now occupy significant roles across the industry.
When asked if the journey has been worthwhile by VANGUARD in an exclusive interview last year the Academy Director, West Africa, Atinuke Ngozi Babatunde said it has not only been worthwhile but very impactful.
“We’ve had students come graduate and start up their own businesses. Over 50% of our alumni have their own production companies where they are hiring and empowering other people and so adding to the economic footprint of their various nations,” she said.
The Academy’s vision is for the students to become key players in the growth and sustainability of Africa’s creative film and television industry. The students are prepped to be future business owners who will in turn, play their own part in building an economy around the industry.
Not only is the Academy a springboard to a career in the entertainment industry, but it also creates a closely-knit community of African professionals with a willingness to narrate Africa’s stories to the world.
The difference between the Academy and other film schools, according to a statement on their website, is to ensure that your creative talent empowers you.
“We are connecting creativity to commerce and connecting professionals to the industry. To accomplish our mission, we are working with the School of Media and Communications, Pan Atlantic University to deliver and execute the curriculum, the statement reads.
The MultiChoice Talent Factory consists of three hubs, namely, the Portal, The Academy and the Masterclass.
The Portal is where creatives around Africa network and exchange ideals. Any creative can register on the portal to know what other creatives are doing or to learn of development in technology in film-making. It is a sort of an digital hub that connects all creatives together, including the Alumni of MTF.
The MultiChoice Talent Factory Masterclasses offer exclusive access to practical, industry expert-led skills workshops that afford film and television professionals the ability to interact and learn from the best in Africa and the world. The objective of the MultiChoice Talent Factory Masterclasses is to formalise MultiChoice’s long-standing efforts to address industry concerns such as accessibility, opportunity, and quality in local productions.
Available data shows that over 30, 000 users are registered online for the masterclasses. To be part of the online masterclasses, you need to create a profile on the Portal to access masterclass content. And the added value is that it is free.
Apart from over 50% of the alumni having their own production companies where they are hiring and empowering other people and adding to economic footprints of their various countries, they have their share of laurels and recognition for their works.
Some graduates of the Academy were nominated for awards in different categories at the 9th Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards. According to a statement, the nominations were in addition to the MTF awards category which was dedicated to films from the Academy.
MTF alumni, Wilson Nkya and Philipo Ngonyani were nominated in the Best Movie East Africa category for their work titled, ‘Mvamizi,’ while Nkya received another nomination with Jane Moshi in the category for Best Indigenous Language: Swahili, for the movie titled ‘Frida’.
“Orire Nwani was also nominated in the Best Short Film/Online Video category for ‘Love Language’ while Emmanuel Mwape was nominated in the Best Movie Southern Africa category for ‘Silver Lining.’
Two movies titled, ‘Leaked’ and ‘Revisit,’ by the MTF West Africa Academy alumni, were also nominated in the MTF awards category.
MTF Director for Africa, Nwabisa Matyumza said the nominations highlighted the success of the MTF Academies in educating the next generation of African storytellers and multiplying the impact of entertainment talent on the continent.
According to the Academy Director, West Africa, the MTF has what is called “Alumni care and Alumni plan” where graduates are looked after and presented with opportunities to excel.
“What we do is look out for them when we see opportunities suitable for them, create access. If we have productions locally our own MNET productions, and we find out that we have people that fit into those roles, they can get to work in these capacitites. A lot of people are working on our productions and when they have content, we put them on our channels. We don’t end the relationship.
Best-graduating students by the MTF Academy, West Africa best graduating student of the 2022 cohort, Adedamola Akapo, received an all-expense paid two-month scholarship to the New York Film Academy. Abisola Aboaba emerged as the top-performing graduate of 2020 and won the NYFA 8-week scholarship in the United States of America.