M-Net announces the launch of Film Academy


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, in Johannesburg in
May, 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. It was
made official on 26 July when M-Net CEO Yolisa Phahle announced the news to
guests at the “Galaxy of Stars’ event at Gallagher Estate, held to celebrate M-Net’s contribution to the local film and television industry.

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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