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Film-makers can no longer operate without technology –Odugbemi
Biggy|March. 27, 2019
The Director of MultiChoice Talent Factory, West Africa, Femi Odugbemi, tells OLUSOLA RICKETTS why MultiChoice recently unveiled a portal for the factory
Why was the MultiChoice Talent Factory set up?
Africa may never be militarily or economically powerful like other continents, but we can compete in the area of storytelling. With storytelling, Africans can go global and arrest peoples’ emotion and attention.
We are retraining young African filmmakers, which will last for 12 months. We want them to know that they are creative entrepreneurs and they cannot tell a story without the knowledge of an audience. As a matter of fact, the capacity to tell your story is embedded in your capacity to connect with the audience.
Also, we are educating young filmmakers to understand that they are what I called public intellectuals. The power of Nollywood in the early days was in the telling of stories that people didn’t want to talk about in society. But they knew these stories were real and they connected with them.
How do we describe a film-maker?
A filmmaker needs to understand his or her own power. We teach these young men and women different things, including yoga, emotional intelligence and philosophy. The industry is no longer in need of filmmakers who are uneducated and uninformed. Kemi Adetiba, Biodun Stephen and Tope Oshin fall under the category of the new Nollywood. These people are educated and clearly understand the power of the cinemas. Hopefully, the generation we have in our academy will take the industry to the next level.
How does your new portal benefit film-makers?
If this next generation of filmmakers must be powerful and connected to the world, they need a vehicle. That vehicle is technology. Already, some of these young filmmakers have become powerful on social media and they work on projects with people from different parts of the world.
This new portal is for all creative persons in Africa, as it connects them to the world. You can call it an African creative market place. The difference between Dangote and me is his phone contacts. The people you know are more powerful than your bank account.
Also, if you look at successful people, they have access to information and the portal will be a home of information for filmmakers. In Nigeria, I find out that people hide something as little as details of film festivals. They do this because they want an advantage. But we want to democratise information in such a way that your content is the only advantage you have.
Does this mean there is rivalry among film-makers?
I have been in the industry for a while and I can tell you that filmmakers unnecessarily compete with each other. But Africans must understand the need for collaborations, not competitions. Competitions reduce the value of the work itself because it means that we are projecting the creator of the work, instead of the work.
If the audience remains our focus, one will find out that the only thing they want to buy is the work, not the fame. I understand that we come from a continent where the level of poverty is high and we believe that another person’s rise is detrimental to our survival. But the sky is big enough for everyone to create and grow.
The interesting thing is that filmmakers don’t need an act of parliament to collaborate. If two different nationals want to work together, all they need is to meet, discuss and start working. Competing for who is the better filmmaker is not as relevant as who is delivering the better value.
Can one become a good film-maker without seeing other films?
Expertise is the amount of knowledge you’ve consumed. But we have many filmmakers in Nigeria who don’t watch films as much as ordinary people do. How can you be a great filmmaker if you don’t watch films? How can you be a great writer if you don’t read?
What makes the MultiChoice Talent Factory Portal unique?
Every filmmaker, cameraman, storyteller and others in the creative sector can open an account and it is free. It will have information about films, job opportunities and many exciting things that will help filmmakers. If you are looking for a professional for a job, log in and look at different profiles to pick your choice. On the portal, you don’t need to know anyone to be offered a job or contract.
Also, you will be able to chat with other registered members on the portal. But you don’t need to register to view information and you can always leave whenever you wish to.
How do you deal with fake news or information?
Everything shared on the portal will be verified by our operational team before going public. We learnt from Facebook that people will post different things. Whenever anyone posts information, there will be a delay for the details to be confirmed. This is important to safeguard the platform’s integrity. We have many young people who are desperate; so, we don’t want them to fall into the hands of fraudsters.
How do you engage filmmakers who know little or nothing about technology?
Reinventing yourself is necessary for every professional in the 21st Century because the consumers now have access to information. They are exposed to things and they know the best global practices.
How much did it cost to build the portal?
It is a huge investment and it took years to put things together because of the complexity and the desire to ensure that it doesn’t crash later. MultiChoice should be saluted for this because they have invested in something that advances the value of their services. I am not worried that it took a while before it was actualised; it is better late than never.
Are there plans to have an app for the portal?
We want to make sure the experience is seamless. If you make an app immediately, you may risk many things. The app is convenient for the consumers and it will eventually happen, but we presently want to deliver everything we have promised. Once that is done and everyone is familiar with the portal, we can now include other features.
The portal is part of the investment MultiChoice is making to improve quality and support the production of local content and storytelling across the continent. It will serve both seasoned professionals and aspiring talent in Africa’s film and television industry.
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