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Talent Factory Academy intake came to a close recently with many people still not aware of it. Chebet Korir sits with Njoki Muhoho, director of the academy, to talk about film and the issues ailing the local industry.

Njoki Muhoho is a multi-discipline career woman, with nearly 30 years of expertise in management consultancy under her belt. She works with companies in developing their strategic plans, job evaluations, executive recruitment and psychometric assessments. Recently, she embarked on a journey that aims to revolutionise Africa’s creative industries, via the Talent Factory Academy.

The best from the rest

The Talent Factory is an initiative to take creatives to the next level through a 12-month educational programme that equips them with the skills to succeed in film and TV production.

“I was recruited competitively mainly because I am an experienced producer, writer and people developer with a lot of knowledge of the regional TV/film industry,” she says.

The academy will take the most talented 18 to 25-year-old from across Africa to coach and mentor them over a period of 12 months. “The curriculum is as intense as it is practical. This is an East African Academy and we will take one student from Ethiopia, four from Tanzania and Uganda and lastly 11 from Kenya. It is very competitive.” The students are also fully sponsored with air tickets, accommodation and monthly allowances catered for.

Stringent criteria and even stricter recruitment processes are ongoing as they must have a maximum of two years experience in the industry, thereby excluding those without experience. They come with sufficient knowledge but have to be passionate and show a lot of enthusiasm for the film industry. They also have to possess the raw talent.

“They have now applied online and uploaded their work and certificates, a team is doing the initial screening and a second team will compile a ‘long list’ and finally the final team will interview the long list for a final shortlist.” The last interviews, she says, will be conducted in each country, by a panel of MultiChoice senior staff, the HR department, and a local industry expert.

Applicants may be high school leavers or university graduates and will have to illustrate their passion and talent for film and TV. The only challenge that producers in Kenya face, she says, are limited resources. “Those that have graduated from the media and film schools come with a lot of theoretical knowledge and limited hands-on practical knowledge. The producers, therefore, have to retrain them .”

As the creative industry continues to grow, we see many getting into the industry for the passion without being necessarily entrepreneurial. “We need to enhance the business skills of industry players. This is a major pillar of our curriculum. As other countries in Africa support their own, we as Kenyans need the general population’s eyeballs glued on Kenyan TV series and films,” she says.

Talent and passion

As for the African films and the quality of stories that we tell, Njoki says Kenya has fabulous and exotic stories to tell but we still have to take pride in telling them.

She explains that Kenyan films are too few and creatives need to make more of them as the few that are available do not get to our screens.

“We also need to curb content piracy, simply there should be better ways of protecting copyrights. Film has to be a business that quickly uplifts our livelihoods and not simply making celebrities of broke people.”

In as much as filmmakers in Africa try to better themselves, there have been cases of unprofessionalism, especially when it comes to the crew. Njoki, however, explains that the major issue is the technical skills available in the industry. “If schools don’t prioritise film and media training with sufficient budgets, the industry will never have professional crews.”  If the business does not give people good money, she adds, why would the very best and most talented choose a career where they are often broke?

To focus, you need to have sufficient income. To have the income, Africa must watch Africa. With all those eyeballs across Africa, with all the TVs, cinemas and smartphones across Africa, the industry should be making millionaires in minutes. Njoki adds.

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