SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: The Script2Screen filmmaking project has revamped and refocused in an impactful way. Now titled Script2Screen Africa, the annual workshop programme is now also a prime-time reality TV show, bringing aspirant actors and filmmakers from across the African continent to compete in a series of workshops while standing a chance to produce their own film.
Bright Obasi, the founder and president of High Definition Film Academy and pioneer of the Script2Screen initiative, launched the project in 2011 and decided it was time to raise the standard in 2017.
A call for entries took place last year, whereby 60 finalists were selected from auditions across three continents and seven countries – including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, USA, UK, and Canada (for Africans in diaspora) – to be part of the reality TV project.
“We wanted to have workshops where we bring in veteran filmmakers, actors and celebrities to come together and impact the next generation of actors and filmmakers beyond the regular film school we have. People across the continent can come to intensive workshops and work directly with these veterans,” informed Obasi.
This year marks the sixth edition of the project, with the main theme being, ‘Film as a catalyst for revolution!’ Another modification to the Script2Screen offering is a focus on the plights of different countries and the positive transformational effect that filmmaking can yield.
“With the pan-African reach of the programme, it was important to have a particular focus for each country, and we decided to tackle Nigeria first, under the theme #CorruptionFreeNigeria,” Obasi said. “We have looked at the African continent and the country of Nigeria, and we asked ourselves, what is the greatest challenge that our country is facing, and we realised if corruption was solved, then half of the problems will be solved. For us Scrpit2Screen Africa is not a show designed for leisure or laughter; these are elements of a bigger picture to create positive change in the country and continent by exploring the transformational effect of film.”
The Reality Show
The show started with 60 hopefuls, from 24 March to 21 April participants underwent a series of workshops and tasks that encouraged them to use their skills for positive change, while tackling issues related to the themes.
Veteran actors and filmmakers including Steve Gukas, Teco Benson, Stella Damasus, CJ Obasi, Pascal Amanfo, Niyi Akimolayan, Majid Michel and Kalu Ikeagwu were called in as mentors and jury members to set daily and weekly tasks for the participants, and to hold topical discussions.
“We have a theme that is strong, and things could get very serious, but we are not approaching the project from that perspective. We want to create great entertainment for our audience and then embed a message within that entertainment. We have very controversial and engaging topics presented in a very entertaining manner so that our audience can enjoy being part of the project but also get the message that we have to raise and create this change we seek,” said Obasi.
Each week the group got smaller, as viewers voted for their favourite contestants and to save those who had been selected for eviction.
The jury and audience measured 50 per cent of the votes respectively, and as the competition intensified, five groups were left to compete for the ultimate prize of 1 million naira and a chance to produce a feature film titled, If I Am President.
The final test for the group came when the teams were tasked to create their own short film. Teams were instructed to touch on different aspects of corruption including: The Power of Corruption, The Power of Exemplary Leadership to Overcome Corruption, The Power of Empowering Young People to Deplete Corruption, and How Corruption Can Be Reduced by Quick Execution of Judgement.
“Through the films, we want to repaint the picture of what Nigeria is, we want to reconstruct the headlines, and we want to change the narrative,” Obasi expressed.
The final teams produced five films, namely: The Catalyst, The Anonymous, Torn, Idam, and Isidore. On 19 April at the Silverbird Cinema in Lagos, the short films had their official premiere which was followed by an awards ceremony.
The winner of the Best Screenplay award went to Anita Abada, Best Filmmaker went to Oghenetejiri Idogho, while the Best Actor/Actress award went to Lydia John. The much-anticipated Overall Best Short Film award went to the fourth team for their film, Isidore, directed by Nuhu Dalyop.
“The winning team will be working with veteran filmmakers and trailblazing Nollywood actors and actresses to produce a film that will be showing not only in Nigeria but across Africa as well as internationally in the USA and UK,” concluded Obasi.