by Kershnee Govender


Growing local talent

Investing in SA film
Developing local film talent

M-Net has announced that it will launch its own Film Academy at the beginning of 2015, as part of its corporate social investment initiatives and in an effort to contribute to the development of the South African film and television industry, increasing the visual storytelling capacity of the country and ultimately adding to its own skills and content pool.

The announcement was made by the pay TV giant’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Kershnee Govender at an invitation-only event that gathered together members of the film and television industries, as well as tertiary education and financial institutions, all of whom are designated as potential partners in M-Net’s latest venture.

Govender explained that the initiative is an extension of the work that M-Net has already done in compliance with Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) legislation and is also in keeping with the company’s special obligation as a member of the broadcasting and information technologies sector, to comply with the Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) Charter.

In this regard, M-Net is required to facilitate access to ICT and to provide training and skills development in the sector. As a result, M-Net is shifting its focus from the work it has done in various sectors, such as health care and basic education, to projects within its own sector, in keeping with the Charter. In addition, the company wishes to shift its emphasis from funding projects to developing programmes that are more long-term oriented and sustainable.

M-Net’s plan, as outlined by Govender, is to begin by approaching tertiary institutions and asking them to allow M-Net to do activations on their campuses. At the same time, they will work with established professionals in the industry to create a curriculum for the programme. “We do not want to play in the same space as tertiary institutions,” Govender explains.

“The kind of model we want to work with is a core-hours internship curriculum. What that means is that when an intern is placed into a production company, he is not just sent around to make coffee and that kind of thing, but instead gets real on-the-job experience in the production field.”

M-Net will then identify ten production companies that are willing to take these students under their wings and participate in the programme. The idea is to keep the programme small and it will thus be limited to ten students per year. These ten students will be drawn from the top-performing learners at the tertiary institutions and placed in the participating production companies in January/ February 2015.

This would be at no cost to the production company, as M-Net would pay the intern’s salary. The production companies would, in participating in the programme, agree to comply with M-Net’s stipulations in regard to the academy curriculum. Once the learner has gone through the internship for a period of a year or so, he or she will then be given a brief by M-Net to develop content, in conjunction with his or her host production company, which M-Net would then aim to use in its programming.

In laying the groundwork for the academy, M-Net is seeking partners in the industry who can participate in the programme in whatever way they can – by offering their input to the curriculum, opening up their companies to interns, or even forming part of the steering committee that will set the curriculum and assess the progress of the interns. M-Net will also be hosting an expo in August 2014, to stimulate interest among youngsters in seeking careers in the film and television industries and showing them how they can do so.

According to Govender, the Academy initiative, which has been given the working catchphrase ‘Spreading the Magic’, is a collaborative effort that will draw upon the resources of the entire industry but the rewards will be measured in the addition of skilled personnel to the sector and an increase in the quantity and quality of homegrown content that the industry can produce.


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Issue 23


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