…new approaches to filmmaking learnt through collaboration
…treating the process as a business or entrepreneurial venture
With shouts and screams, the 20 graduates at the maiden graduation ceremony of the Multichoice Talent Factory (MTF) hailed each other as they go up stage to receive their certificates and special awards.
Among these 20 ambitious and well trained graduates are four Ghanaians, who couldn’t hide their excitement about what they have learnt in their 12 months stay in Lagos and how they can’t wait to come home and begin implementing all they have learnt and help position the Ghana move and television industry as a force to reckon with.
The four are Asamoah Kobby Edmund, who graduated in Cinematography and also took home the Bollywood Internship Award for emerging one of the best students; Henry Konadu Denkyira who graduated in Cinematography, Irene Dumevi Yaamoakoa who graduated as a producer, and Patience Esiawonam Adisenu, who passed out as a scriptwriter and director.
As part of their coursework, the graduates, including the Ghanaians, were mandated to produce films for their assessment. The first, Life of Bim, will air on Africa Magic Showcase (DStv channel 151) on September 21, while the other, Dreamchaser, will air on 28 September on the same station.
In an interview with the B&FT after the ceremony, the four filmmakers explained that despite their background in filmmaking, their eyes have been opened to a lot more than they expected, which they never were not taught during their education in Ghana. To them, the business or entrepreneurial aspect of filmmaking was alien to them until their 12-months in Lagos.
Patience, who graduated from the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) in television production with a major in documentary filmmaking, set the ball rolling, noting that biggest take-away was teachings about being a business person or entrepreneur even though one is a filmmaker. “This is not something I learnt [in Ghana] and I believe I have found a new love for producing movies even though I am a writer and director.”
She noted that at NAFTI she was taught television production but not the marketing or production of film with an entrepreneurial mindset. “This platform was good for me. Even though the NAFTI background really helped me, the Multichoice Talent Factory is a major step forward and an added knowledge.”
Irene, a graduate from NAFTI with television production, noted that the opportunities presented to them were enormous. From facilitators with different backgrounds and experiences in the industry to the business part of filmmaking, it was a real eye opener.
“This is my first time of producing a feature length film [I was the line producer for Life of Bim] and it taught me how to manage money and people efficiently. This is something that will remain with me forever.”
To Edmund, a graduate from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) with graphic design and multimedia, filmmaking was just about the camera but spending 12-months in Lagos shows that filmmaking goes way beyond that.
“I have realised that filmmaking is a business and the structuring of stories to appeal to audiences. There is also an emotional aspect to filmmaking where we can control our emotions and connect with our audience via emotions.”
Henry, another graduate from NAFTI with production design, noted that he came to meet different creatives and walked away with the sense that creating partnerships with other filmmakers is something that will help and his colleagues. “If we have all these creatives coming together to work, it will help a lot and make the difference that matter.”
Apart from business, what else was mind-blowing?
Irene explained that they are energised to come back and help the industry to the next level. “With all that we have learnt here, we are so pumped and ready to cause a disruption in the Ghana film industry with our films. People are going to see the difference in our films in terms of narration, conception of idea, development, pre to post production and to distribution.”
To her Ghanaian filmmakers must know that there are opportunities to market their works and through collaborations a lot can be done. “We want to collaborate with other filmmakers in the country.”
Edmund, touching further on collaboration, said the facilitators hammered on the point of collaborations which was non-existent in their education in Ghana. “We were taught to do individual projects in Ghana but over here we were taught to work together and that has resulted in two great movies. Also, we learnt how to share our knowledge. When we come back to Ghana, it is not just about the four us, but impacting the knowledge on our friends and colleagues.”
New projects already?
All four were excited to share that they are already working on projects that would come to fruition soon. “Currently, it is still at the developmental stage and we have the opportunity to pitch to Africa Magic so we are working on something,” Patience added.
Henry noted that with a directly link to Africa Magic and Multichoice, as storytellers, they would want to team up with other creatives, team up and reset the benchmark for the local industry. “What we have learnt here shall not be kept to ourselves. We will be teaching others so that when a formidable story is created, we can pitch to Africa Magic and move forward.”
Changing the art of storytelling
Even as they learnt how to tell stories in Ghana, they believe that what has been added at the MTF is the art and science of telling really good stories. “For us to start telling good stories in Ghana is what will push us,” Henry added.
To Irene, ideas come from anywhere from a room or on the streets but what matters is making that idea relatable. “Telling a good story, you must think about the central themes, audience and certain nuances which must be told properly. The story should have a message for the audience. If it is a drama, what is driving the plot of the story and even the sequence in which the story is told is really important.”
She added that the Multichoice effect is already happening with schools such as NAFTI organising seminars that discuss the art and science of good storytelling. “From the experience we have had, we are going to make sure that our fellows who couldn’t get the opportunity would benefit.”
She noted that once Ghanaians are telling good stories, it wouldn’t be only Africa Magic clamouring for these stories but global streaming giants such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and others. “When we have good stories we wouldn’t be reaching out to Netflix, but it would come to us because we have good stories to tell.”
Touching on his upcoming internship in Bollywood, India, Edmund said he is really looking forward to it and can’t wait to learn more. He, on behalf of his colleagues, thanked Multichoice for the opportunity and how they have taken care of us as well. “Knowledge has been impacted in us and we would love to share it with the world. Our perception about film and life has been changed and we are grateful.”
Life of Bim follows the story of 32-year old Bim, whose life begins to swiftly unravel after the unresolved actions of his past resurface. The results are dire: He loses his chance at becoming a football star, his job and his close relationships. Faced with the possibility of further calamity and pressure from his parents, BIM must now face his past and set his life back on course. It won’t be easy, and as BIM rebuilds, he has to do the same for his sibling, who faces the same risk of a life unravelling.
In DreamChaser, the bright lights and a chance of fame and fortune in music prompt a young woman to pack her bags and set off for Lagos, despite her father’s wishes against it. She quickly discovers that pursuing her dream would require even more from her, and at a cost.
West Africa hub Academy Director, Femi Odugbemi, noted that the film screening is a hallmark moment for the students and their re-entry into the industry as creatives equipped with professional and technical know-how.
“These two films are a culmination of all that the Class of 2018 have learnt during their tenure at the MTF Academy, and the results are outstanding. They have achieved the essence of what the Academy has set out to do, which is to train the next generation of filmmakers who are willing to take on big themes and unearth untold African stories, and be deliberate about the art that they create,” Odugbemi added.