AFRICA MAGIC IS LOOKING FOR CONTENT…SCRIPT WRITERS TAKE NOTE

  • Africa Magic is the home of African Films where they tell African Stories. This Year Africa Magic is looking at producing 56 fixed budget original, highly entertaining 60 Minutes Feature Films that capture the heart and soul of ordinary East Africans. We are looking for stories that will capture the East African essence, which would be a reflection of life, traditions, lifestyles/culture, wealth and relationships.

To qualify you would need to submit the following;
– Title, and tag line in one paragraph summary.
– Synopsis of the feature film of no more than 1 page
– Bio or CV of the submitting parties.

DEADLINE TO SUBMIT: 21ST OF JULY 2013.

To submit please drop your package at the Super Sport Offices in Westlands, Empress Building 1st floor

Or email: AMCommissioningEditor@gmail.com

JULIAN MACHARIA SAYS IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.

ImageJulian, is a media & creative strategist since 2004, he is a Business Manager, writer, music & Sound design at Buni Media, and is alsoDeputy Programs Director at Royal Media Services Ltd. It’s post BFMA , but the issues facing the industries are still here, and he gives us some perspective on why for the broadcaster, the money comes first. 
   Do you believe that broadcasters in Kenya are in touch with their audience’s needs? Why so/ why not?

    Some broadcasters are. Ratings will always give you an indication of who is getting it right, the more popular a show the more it connects, however it is important to note that audiences are also not homogenous in nature, different audiences want different things.

    A mature lady may be very happy with a Spanish soap, but at that point the Husband has been left out, but in a few moments there is a soccer game at which point the broadcaster will have connected with the man then left out the woman.

    What we need to see is more contact points for different audiences, that’s the reason competition exists and more channels are coming up every day to fill this gap/need.

    Why do you think there is a sharp divide between what broadcasters want to spend on content and what producers of content demand?

    Actually I tend to imagine more often than not producers being creative, want to make what they think is good without actually testing their product. I see food companies testing their products, I never see producers getting people to watch screenings of their pilots to their intended target. So, if the shows get on TV, its often not authentic to the target audience thus it ‘sucks and tanks’. I think producers should embrace new technologies (YouTube et al) to showcase their work, I think if you can create a buzz online it would be easier to argue your case to content buyer/broadcaster.

    How can producers of content work with broadcasters to ensure both parties benefit? 

    It is simple business, you don’t work together with your butcher to get good meat, and you just pay for whoever sells tender tasty meat. I don’t see it any different, if you don’t make good content, working together will not improve your content. Producers just have to step up, good content does not mean technical quality, it has to be engaging, entertaining or at the very least educative.

    At the end it will come down to making a great show, marketing it until everyone is watching it. I always get the impression that producers feel a sense of entitlement from broadcasters to intervene or go out of their way to assist/build the industry; I can assure you the dynamics are like any other business sector.

    As a program advisor, what makes a program worthy to be aired? Will digitization affect this?

    All I look for is ratings, nothing else. When I have ratings, I can get revenue. So every time we watch a screener/listen to a demo, we ask will people go crazy about this? Will advertisers go crazy about this? Issues of technical matters are actually a bit secondary. When Naija movies came around (actually even now) some are not top notch or up to par from a production perspective. The story however and the performances can be world class and for the average person that’s what they are looking for. To me digitization is a just another name for format, whether you watch World Cup on VHS, DVD, Blue ray, black & White TV, tablet, phone etc. etc. If it’s a good game you remember the score, twists & turns. Later on (for a select few) will talk about the game experience in HD, not the HD experience of the game.

    That being said, digital will make barrier to entry reduced thus more channels which will need more content to fill, thus they will be open to almost anything initially just to try and fill up space. After that the next step will be them forking out more money for content which will entice more players to produce content and the cycle continues until one day when channels will be bidding for top/popular content.

 What advice would you give to people who want to have their programs aired on mainstream media?

    Refer to question 3

 Are broadcasters playing their role effectively in creating a world-class media? How so?

    There is no such thing as ‘world class media’ as this is an amorphous sector, we already have world class journalists, producers, directors, shows, etc. even in the Us where broadcast is probably the most advanced they have the top tier and the bottom rung, it’s the same case here. Like I mentioned earlier, there are no roles to be played everyone is just trying to make a living doing what interests them

What do you hope industry players will take away from the BFMA?

    The options available, BFMA is a short cut to exposure, marketing and networks, a lot of the great producers have only shown their inner circle their content; who probably tell them they are great, but when you expand your circle you’ll begin to see what else is out there.

    The greatest piece of advice I can give producers is; PRODUCE. Don’t market, negotiate etc. Get the relevant specialists, you can’t be a creative and a business person (very few can) one is bound to suffer.

Compiled by Christine Mwai

LESSONS FROM THE BFMA 2013

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:

BROADCAST

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.

FILM

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.

MUSIC

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.

CONCLUSION

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.

THE BFMA IS FINALLY HERE

So the D-day is tomorrow, and the long awaited event will finally take place. As I have been writing and collecting views from industry stakeholders for the past two months or so, one thing has been clear, that our industries are lacking in one major way: structure.

Most of the broadcast, music and film industries in Africa are working without any form of structures in place; We have in place professionals, equipment and platforms that are in place to support the content that is being created and produced, but what seems to be missing are the laws, the guilds, qualification standards, set industry practices and standards of conduct, payment etc., and bodies that look out for the interests of the various professionals.

As I questioned some of the professionals, this came up:

Paul Ikhane –    “We as stakeholders have not constructively engaged policy makers in terms of the challenges we face as an industry in Africa. If we must move forward we need to get our legislative arm of our governments to enact laws that will protect our interests”

Alex Konstantaras said: “Also in Kenya there is no legit distribution path or clear laws about distribution so we end up having products but almost no where to sell them and also there is heavy taxation for legit films and no taxation on pirated films.”

Eddie Okila- “When you have non-professionals in the field who get to where they are through nepotism and you have to train them, it becomes taxing trying to be professionals and making them see the bigger picture.”

Damaris Irungu Ochieng’ – “One of the biggest challenges is that most producers and broadcasters don’t understand that scriptwriters are an essential part of their creative work; they want to pay the cheapest possible and don’t care much about the qualifications of the writers”

Meredith Beal- “In terms of an industry that can support continual development of musical artistry that can sustain the livelihoods of the talent — that’s what needs to happen and where we should be headed.”

Gerald Langiri- “A fully professional industry must have bodies/associations that govern them. Bodies that have rules and regulations that clearly state policy of how things should run….lack of accreditation and schools or guilds that can actually identify actors in Kenya are lacking and that makes it a very haphazard industry.”

Debbie Asila- “Returns on investment musically is generally low therefore music is something you must do for more than just the money, there must be a higher satisfaction, passion and calling… unfortunately we live in the real world and life is generally expensive that said, money remains a big factor.”

Those are just some of the sentiments that echo the reality on the ground that structure is lacking and this ultimately affects all the other good things that are happening in the industries. As we embark on building a world class digital media, we must also not forget that without creating the policies and structures that support the media industries, the efforts will not amount to much.

Let us meet tomorrow and see what the way forward is.

Compiled by Christine Mwai

ALEX KONSTANTARAS TALKS FILM

imagesAlex Konstantaras is a film director and producer with Historia Films. He has several films under his belt and talks about the state of the film industry in Kenya .

   As a film maker, what are the greatest challenges you face?

As a film maker in Kenya the two bigger challenges I face is financing and distribution. As the film industry is still in very early stages the corporations are very reluctant to put money towards movies as they do with TV for example.

Also in Kenya there is no legit distribution path or clear laws about distribution so we end up having products but almost no where to sell them and also there is heavy taxation for legit films and no taxation on pirated films.

   Do you think that the film industry is professional? And why not/ why is it?

 The Kenyan film industry has many professionals involved that many other countries in the continent don’t even dream about. But because of the absence of a strong guild to protect them, these professionals end up compromising their professionalism and their rates out of necessity.

   There is the issue of funding for movies, why do you think it is still so hard to acquire adequate funding?

As I said above the film industry is in very early stages and the audience for Kenyan movies is very limited. As a whole nation is being bombarded by national TV with Nigerian and American movies it is hard to change the mentality of a Nation to start watching Kenyan movies. So as the audiences are very limited, the funding for Kenyan movies is equally limited. Because the big corporations want to fund something that will first bring money back and secondly approach as many audiences as possible. So for them, American and Nigerian movies are doing the trick for them.

 We need a law that enforces the big corporations to put every year a small percentage of their profits towards the local film production (or arts in general) and have that amount tax free from the government. This is what is happening other countries with developed film industry and the results is that big corporations are looking for films to fund cause they are getting a benefit out of this!

    What about distribution, how can we get it right?

 Similarly the government has to create a legal framework to protect the legit distributors and encourage legit distribution companies to exist and in the same time be bold enough to limit or even stop completely the pirates. Because a local legit movie will never be able to compete with a 50ksh American blockbuster DVD.

   What do you think can be done to make the industry more professional and world class?

All the above

  As a contributor to the BFMA, what do you hope industry stakeholders will take away from it?

 Experience that will put in practice as soon as possible

Compiled by Christine Mwai

BEATRICE NDUNG’U ON EMBRACING THE ONLINE PLATFORM

ImageBeatrice, is the founder of Young Media Foundation and Sema Radio. YOUNG MEDIA FOUNDATION, is a non-profit organization in Kenya whose main mission is to give young people the tools and skills to make their voices heard through Sema Radio.She is an Experienced and highly trained media practitioner and  has been honing her craft for the last 7 years. She has dealt with start up radio stations on a consultative basis. she talks to us about taking radio online.

Why did you choose the online platform to stream Sema radio?

The internet has become an important part of our lives in many ways. From online dating to e-commerce, people have discovered ways to do almost everything on the internet. This includes listening to the radio online.

There’s plenty of innovation in Africa – it just isn’t as widely reported as it should be. People in the West still see Africa as a struggling continent, and reports of new businesses and markets rising up are few and far between in Western media.

There’s a wealth of talent out here, especially in the tech sector. It’s very exciting to see the enterprising minds out there, pioneering African business and commerce. Exciting times are ahead for African entrepreneurs!

Why sema radio?

YOUNG MEDIA FOUNDATION www.youngmediafoundation.com, is a non-profit organization in Kenya whose main mission is to give young people the tools and skills to make their voices heard. There is great potential for technology and the internet to bring inspirational change in Africa, and that’s where Young Media Foundation comes in.  Young Media Foundation aims to play an effective role in the development of communications as a major instrument for continental building and a vital element in the socio-economic development process. We do this via sema radio.

Through Sema Radio http://www.youngmediafoundation.com, young people speak about their concerns and reach out to their peers and wider audiences about the issues they face. We use media to reduce poverty by giving training opportunities in different fields in media. PLUS, Sema Radio gives you the greatest African music memories, 24 seven, around Africa, non-stop!!!!!!

Have you faced any challenges with the use of the online platform? Which ones?

 Sema Radio hasn’t had to really conquer any challenges yet; I’d say it is more the case that we understand and solve the challenges.

What are the pros of using the online platform?

Availability- the Web is everywhere. Access to web-based stations is not limited by the range of the broadcaster’s transmitter as with traditional radio stations, as long as you have a computer or your smart phone, you can listen to your favorite music anytime.

Increased listening time – The average radio listener spends about 30 minutes or more listening to a car radio while commuting to and from. Your internet radio station is reaching people 24 hours a day around the world while they work, shop, chat, email or surf online.

Ability to create loyal listeners. Listeners from around the world can find the type of programming that they prefer, instead of settling for what’s available locally. Archived shows make it possible for listeners to play their favorite shows at their own convenience.

Do you think that the online platform has got to a stage that it competes with mainstream media?

Fundamental market changes are pushing radio stations towards an uncertain future and managers and owners need to begin developing strategic responses to developments in their industry.

 Can taking up the online platform in earnest lead to lower standards of production? Will we attain a world class media this way?

The broadcasting industry has experienced dramatic changes in the past decade. Finally, the digital technology is here and radio/TV stations can stream their broadcast on the Internet successfully. We need to go beyond the antenna!

What do you hope that people attending the BFMA will take away from the conference? I want people to understand that the internet radio audience is growing thanks to shifts in consumer listening behavior from terrestrial radio to streaming stations. Users are embracing internet radio on a growing range of devices, from PCs, smartphones and tablets to automobiles, connected home appliances and other gadgets. Internet radio is now a global phenomenon, and that’s why we have SEMA RADIO http://www.youngmediafoundation.com

for more on what Beatrice brings to the BFMA , check out: http://aitecafrica.com/user/view/Beatrice+Ndung%E2%80%99u

Compiled By Christine Mwai

MEREDITH BEAL TALKS MUSIC

Image

Meredith Beal is founder and chief executive officer of Lasting Value Broadcasting, a radio broadcasting company based in Austin, Texas. His previous positions have included software engineer, editor-in-chief of magazines and trade journals, music producer, and record industry executive at Motown Records.He has a wealth of experience where music is concerned, and talks to us on the same.

1.      As a musician, what do you think are the greatest challenges in the industry?

 One of the biggest challenges is keeping up with how the industry is changing and what that means in terms of what you have to do as an artist to be successful. The industry has changed drastically in significant ways. Historically musicians and recording artists have not understood well how copyrights and music publishing and performance rights work, what happens after they sign a record deal, etc. Record companies themselves have had a hard time keeping up with changing consumer behavior, the impact of digital innovation and the nature of global markets and so many have not adjusted their business models to reflect that changing reality.

For  example, as the practice of downloading and sharing music between people advanced, the companies were slow in recognizing that they were no longer in the business of selling plastic, that is, putting recorded music on plastic CDs and physically distributing those discs along with accompanying packaging. They attacked Napster and other online platforms that were based on the downloading trend rather than embrace them and figure out how to take advantage of the shifting behavior by making deals with them.

 That slow response allowed Apple to take over the music industry by building devices (the IPod/IPhone), creating a store and application (ITunes), and cutting deals with content producers. The company barged into the music industry and took a significant slice of the market.

2. How does one maintain relevance in the changing industry?

The growing global market offers tremendous opportunity but it is important to figure out who your audience is, where they are and how to get in front of them. The doors of distribution used to be controlled by a small few (including industries like television and film). Now the Internet, telecommunications, innovation and the declining costs of equipment, bandwidth and storage have blown the doors wide open.

 This has led to more competition than ever to get attention, it means you must devote the time and effort to sharpen your craft, be more creative and use your ingenuity in getting attention. It also means learning about how the industry functions and studying the trends so you can flow with them more effectively.

 3.      How would you compare the music industry in the west and that in Africa?

 The music industry in the west is obviously far more developed. It has had quite some time to do so. There is as much talent in Africa as anywhere else, so it is a matter of developing that talent and creating a framework to benefit from it.

Some of the obstacles to doing so are things like protecting intellectual property rights, high fuel and electricity costs which impact production and distribution and corruption, which impacts all aspects of society.

But in the same way that Africa has leapfrogged many countries in the west in the arena of telecom, for example, by being able to skip the step of having to invest large amounts of capital and labor in laying telephone lines all over and go directly to cell towers, becoming the fastest growing mobile market in the world; the continent’s creative talent industries – music and otherwise – can leapfrog the era of physical distribution as WI-FI becomes more ubiquitous and the technology of mobile money advances.

 4.   What do you envision for the African music sector…is it world-class or headed there?

 It is world class in terms of performance with great artists like Hugh Masekela, Manu Dibango, Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour, Angelique Kidjo, Toure Kunda, and a host of other commercially successful acts as well as masters of indigenous instruments in nearly every country.

In terms of an industry that can support continual development of musical artistry that can sustain the livelihoods of the talent — that’s what needs to happen and where we should be headed.

 5.      As a delegate, what value do you think the BFMA will add to musicians?

 The conference provides an opportunity to learn more about the industry, hear about what others are doing and get ideas on how you could be more successful. And finally it’s a great networking opportunity.

let’s network at the BFMA.

Compiled by Christine Mwai.