So the days came and the BFMA 2013 happened, whoever failed to attend truly missed out on some engaging speeches, discussions and awesome workshops. In my last article, I had stated that structure is the major problem, but I was schooled and while structure still is an issue, apparently there are other major issues afflicting the industries; but besides problems , the beauty of BFMA was that solutions were given as well. According to Russell Southwood, media industries in Africa are ran as hobbies or political patronage…in essence we do not seem very serious; and that needs to change.
What came out, was that the consumer today, is more enlightened and has more variety than ever, so broadcasters need to step up; as pay TV and the internet become more widespread, expectations are higher and this poses a challenge to broadcasters stuck in the pre-digital mindset and thinking…which is a lot of African stations .
…so here are some of the highlights for industry by industry:
TV stations are run like Taxi services…in that people have to pay to have their content aired….it does not lead to growth.
This is especially for free to air TV. Okay in Kenya, the format is basically: … news …. Programs …news…programs…news…in that sequence; the conclusion was that this system will kill the existing stations…it is old and does not make sense to anyone.
Stations should go local in terms of programming…it makes more sense economically in the long run…spare people the Mexican soaps.
Identify a target audience and address their needs…digital transmission will misplace you.
Get ways to be more interactive with viewers.
It would be great if we could implement a Hollywood model and way of working here in Africa, but truth is right now we can’t so what people need to do is rethink ways of doing things and work with what we have.
In terms of funding…start low budget, shoot with your phone if u need to and make a good story and post it online….get a following and get known, that is how to grow. Explore Co-production opportunities as well.
People should identify what they are good at and hone that craft… some people are trying to be the scriptwriter, director, actor and producer…this is not sensible specialize and grow.
Actors were told to stop the 1970s way of acting…theater is not for the screen, leave it there.
For the writers, the stories need to be our own and authentic…a good place to source for this, is the newspaper…so the soaps are nice but let’s leave them to the Mexicans. Writers should also explore creating of TV formats and sell these, or have good ideas and simply sell them, and not just locally , but also internationally.
In terms of distribution, make use of VODs and the internet; these are great resources as opposed to the same thinking of DVDs (which will be pirated anyway) and film festivals.
The seriousness with which time and money is invested in making the film, the same or rather a good amount of time and investment should also be given to marketing and essentially hyping the movies creatively…it will not sell if no one knows about it!!
In terms of paying crew, if you do not have the funds, work on partnering with people as opposed to hiring them, give people part of the rights if you have to and go for sponsorship with established brands; someone also suggested that you can pay people a set salary at the end of the month or at the end of the job, because it is a job anyway… in short there is always a solution.
The first thing was to make quality music…that with a global appeal.
Distribution channels are growing so just like Film, they need to take advantage of the growing channels and market intensely to establish a brand.
In essence the music industry today has a lot more potential for musicians and many are making a living from music…so one just needs to find who they are, who their target audience is and finally, be smart about the business end of things.
In short, so much was said, it was a sharing experience for all involved, and a networking experience as well; what I have said here does not even begin to describe the wealth of information that was gathered. The important thing is that today, the consumer has more say than ever, the thirst for content will only keep rising and there is opportunity for everyone especially as the digital era sets in.
I hope that next year we will be discussing progress made as industry stake holders implement the very many good ideas discussed, let’s be a continent that talks and acts.
compiled by Christine Mwai.