Strengthening the foundation of quality storytelling in Africa

This week Netflix kicks off two creative industry skills development initiatives in Africa: a three-month training programme with 12 participants in partnership with Realness Institute and an APost Lab post-production workshop for film and TV professionals.

There is a African humanist philosophy called ‘Ubuntu’ which broadly means, “I am, because you are”. This idea that “we are, because of others” aptly captures the essence of Netflix’s approach to its partnership with Africa’s creative industries because without the existence of our storytellers, people’s favourite Netflix stories would not be possible.

Africa has an amazing pool of talent – both in front and behind the camera – and Netflix is committed to investing in African stories and talent long-term. It also recognises that being part of the creative communities comes with responsibilities, in particular, the need to develop the talent pipeline and give new voices a chance to be heard. This can only happen through concerted efforts and investment in talent development – which is extremely important to Netflix – as well as knowledge transfer or skills enhancement programmes which are all supported by Netflix’s Grow Creative team.

Last year, Netflix partnered with the Realness Institute on two programmes:  an Episodic Writers Lab focused on South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, and a Development Executive Traineeship (DET) for candidates across the Sub-Saharan Africa region. From over 500 applications, 12 creatives from Kenya, Nigeria, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe were chosen to participate in these two inaugural three-month programmes, which will run until September 2021.

At the Episodic Lab (EPL), the writers were selected based on their story ideas and will develop these concepts alongside expert story consultants and creative producers. They will also undergo creative training and receive feedback from the Netflix team. At the end of the lab, each writer will have an opportunity to pitch their incubated concept to Netflix to have their series further developed for production.

Simultaneously, the six participants in the  Development Executive Traineeship (DET) will fully immerse themselves in the story development process. Their training will include bolstering their technical skills by partnering them with the EPL writers to develop story concepts into quality productions. This skill creates opportunities for professionals to work with national film bodies, film commissions, philanthropists, story consultants and critics.

Identifying gaps in skills has been one of Netflix’s biggest learnings and, together with it creative partners, it wants to do more to educate and empower those in the industry, and those hoping to break through. In June, Netflix will host a five-day workshop focusing on post-production. The APost Lab is aimed at training film and television professionals from across Africa on technical best practices, technical and creative support methods, and methods to facilitate the best creative process. Thirty-two participants have been invited to participate in the workshops while more than 100 film and TV professionals from across the continent will be part of the Masterclasses.

Netflix wants to be a good partner for Africa’s creative industries. It is energised and excited by the many opportunities that lie ahead to help strengthen the quality of African storytelling and to bring fresh voices to its members in Africa and around the world.

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