Tag Archives: African film

Africa’s film markets and video content distribution trends (1/2)

by Andy Kozlov (@KozlovAndy)

It’s not a film unless it has a distribution plan.

How about a multi-decade distribution deal?

Distributors are in the game to profit from films that are easy to sell, not to nurture filmmakers. By this logic apparently, an independent film will languish on the shelf indefinitely if it is not marketable.

The same will be true for most of you aspiring TV producers.

Get into the habit of attending African content markets

So where do you look to make yourself marketable? Experience shows, attending content markets is a must. And every month you can be part of one or even a bunch of them, depending on the season.

As you do that, make sure you get to know your buyers’, co-producers’ needs, address their concerns in the bud. In a nutshell — be love-able.

Get both global and local in your narrative. Avoid contrived situations — they suck

Some TV format ideas can make you super famous  more than others. But the general trend is for your narrative to be both global and local at the same time. As Wangeci Murage, managing partner at Nairobi, Kenya-based Media Pros Africa, explains commenting on Russell Southwood’s Netflix in Africa – Three reasons why it will not conquer everything any time soon:

Netflix do acquire content but their main aim is to build their inventory through original productions. Their [January 2016] entry into the “world” market signals an upsurge in local content production, to which they will own full rights.

Content developers have also started shifting their mindset and have began producing content with global appeal and local relevance. This is true of the four African countries [mentioned by Mr Southwood in descending order they are Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana and Kenya;] so they will find a market.

Russell Southwood is the CEO of Balancing Act, a consultancy and research company focused on telecoms, internet and broadcast in Africa. He is one of those people you can often run into at media markets across Africa.

Speaking of South African film industry, veteran producer Jeremy Nathan estimated in May 2012: we are making 25 to 30 films a year now which is really very impressive. Ten years ago we were only making five or six films a year.

And as Balancing Act points out:

There are currently some 136 VoD platforms in Africa, both local, regional and international.

Outside Africa, Thema TV was the first provider of ethnic TV channels in Europe, particularly in France, with the successful launch of “The African Bouquet“, “The German Bouquet” and the “Indian Ocean Bouquet”.

In Africa, take M-Net, the Naspers-owned terrestrial pay TV channel. In 2008, M-Net’s AfricaMagic, one of the leading channels on the DStv bouquet,  launched Africa Magic Plus the growth of which further prompted a flowering of additional channels that catered for culture and language-specific African communities, inclusive of Yoruba, Hausa and Swahili speaking groups.

In 2013, in Africa there were some 535 local TV channels, each responsible for the transmission of up to 1,000 hours of fresh programs annually.

So on the one hand, the distribution channels are expanding. But so does competition from other African content producers. Mind you, even Ukraine in Eastern Europe now shoots Nollywood films. However that also means that Zimbabwean film distributors get to network with their Slav peers at the likes of Kiev Media Week.

As of 2013, African content production ranged from 3-4,000 hours per year. During the 1990s, this figure was lower than 100.

For African content producers concerned about growing competition, Media Pros Africa’s Wangeci Murage paints a picture as bright as it can probably get in the world of unkown unkowns:

This is an age-old phenomenon that is much welcome in our industry. The likes of DSTV’s Showmax and Buni TV would not be in existence if it wasn’t for forward thinkers such as IROKO TV. They saw a gap and went out to fill it. There may be a few holes in the service delivery but nonetheless, they serve a majority of African and International markets in search of Nollywood content.

€3,000 to 30,000 checks handed directly to directors and producers at the Marché International du Cinéma Africain in Ouagadougou undoubtedly makes a good news story.

But this is where those of you who prefer to think long-term should ask themselves:

Is it worth giving away the exclusivity rights on any broadcast on the African continent for a quarter of a century ?

Whatever your decision is, you also want to avoid becoming totally dependent on the international festival circuit for the distribution of your content.

In Tanzania they say 70% of the population do not have access to TV.  If you feel passionate about reaching out to the rural folks who are underserved by cinemas, have limited mobile internet access (2G?); if you feel like you are called to bridge the gap between indigenous people, rural and urban Africans, consider going it alone. Well..not totally alone:

The global list of your outdoor movie partners is growing like never before

FilmAid International  is committed to a participatory approach, teaching skills and involving local communities with the media making process.

Open Air Cinema with its world’s premiere outdoor cinema systems and inflatable movie screens

Short & Sweet with its largest inflatable screen in South Africa

Sunshine Cinema is a mobile cinema that converts solar power to social impact. Through various short films, facilitated workshops and “how to” videos they address social and environmental challenges through community facilitated engagement.

Cine Vagabundo (The Wandering Cinema), a Colombian non-profit that has recognized the fact that with only 5% of cities and townships that have cinemas, the Latin American nation is not an exception, that something needs to be done to link content producers with their digitally divided audiences on a global scale. And locally — glocally.

The author can be reached on andreakozlov@gmail.com


These TV format ideas can make you super famous. Earn money by making friends, as you travel the world

In our previous post we spoke about various content markets that you can visit to network with media execs and promote your work.
Many of these events have pitching sessions where the rookies are encouraged to present their content ideas.


From global pleasure of sex and procreation, broadcast by TV5 Québec Canada, to extraordinary schools around the world.
Look at the world with Brazilian eyes.
Global Ukrainians, global elites in island nations, MTB culture and smart cities in Africa or underexplored but vibrant transportation hubs in your region.
Even Customs and Border Secirity forces. The world of TV is teeming with under-developed narrative opportunities. Grab your pen, stylus or smartphone. Take notes. Create!
Travel the world, re-invest, make friends, educate the world!

Steppes in Sync 2016 Selection of Global Content Events

June and September are the busiest months (with 4 events), followed by November


NATPE (Miami)

January 19-21


European Film Market  (Berlin)

February 11-19



February 21-24


DISCOP Istanbul

March 1-3


(Austin, TX)

March 11-20



April 4-7


LA Screenings

May 16-27. Canadian Screenings: tba


DISCOP Africa Abidjan

May 31-June 2


World Content Market (Moscow)

May 30 – June 1


Sheffield DocFest

June 10-15



NATPE (Budapest)

June 27-30


DISCOPRO (Nairobi – Kalasha Festival)

August 24 – 26


Toronto Film Festival 

September 8-18


International Broadcasting Convention (Amsterdam)

September 8-13


Kiev Media Week

September 19-23


Smart City Africa Abidjan

September 27-29



October 17-20


Frankfurt Book Fair

October 19-23


DISCOP Africa (Johannesburg)

November 2-4


American Film Market (Santa Monica, CA)

November 2-9. 2017: November 1-8


German Screenings (Graz)

November 27-30

Sao Tomean-Estonian Elsa Figueira creates positive role-models, keeps anti-violence discussion going

by Andy Kozlov @KozlovAndy

As one could expect from checking the international calendar, yesterday the internet burst up from an inflow of awareness-raising info against domestic violence. As every year, on November 25 we were reminded that women and children around the world shouldn’t undergo violence in their homes or anywhere for that matter. ‘Thank you!’ you could roll your eyes in exasperation , “As if I didn’t no that hitting my wife’s index finger with a hammer is a savage thing to do.”

Well apparently, such annual reminder campaigns should not go obsolete just yet. Even those who you think are in the driving seat of behaviour change in there respective nations do their best to surprise you.

Elsa Figueira, a Sao-Tomean-Estonian transmedia initiative against gender-based violence
Elsa Figueira, a Sao-Tomean-Estonian transmedia initiative against gender-based violence

A curious press statement was sent out by the South African presidency on November 24. Mail & Guardian associate editor Verashni Pillay @verashni reports:

This year is significant because we’ve been doing this for 16 years. There were a few possibilities the press release could have played around with in terms of phrasing, given this neat numerical coincidence. [Instead the] Presidency celebrates 16 years of ‘raising gender-based violence’

Raising the violence, not the awareness about it. And celebrating the perversity. Really?

Speaking of observances, less than five years from now, the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe lying off the west coast of Africa will be the stage for  a centennial celebration of a revalation that — just like geneder-based violence in our time — was reported in newspapers all over the world as a major story. On 29 May 1919, Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, a British astrophysicist and popularizer of science, travelled to the island of Príncipe to watch a solar eclipse that provided one of the earliest confirmations of relativity.

This stamp by São Tomé and Príncipe celebrates the 90th anniversary of the milestone solar eclipse observation by Sir Arthur Eddington
This stamp by São Tomé and Príncipe celebrates the 90th anniversary of the milestone solar eclipse observation by Sir Arthur Eddington

The theory of relativity is an universally accepted episteme today. Brought to its completion during the First World War — that the humanity recalled throughout the whole 2014 — this theory  has successfully superseded a 200-year-old paradigm created primarily by Isaac Newton. Smashing a beer bottle over a woman’s head is somehow still one of those ideas that doesn’t want to vanish in the thin air.

The issue of violence is certainly an universal one, a primordial issue. People everywhere try to figure out a strategy to change violent behaviours in humans.

We asked the producers of a São Toméan-Estonian film Elsa Figueira about how replicable their project’s model could be in other countries.

Pekagboom says:

This project started with the Humanist vision that my musical style is spreading in the world, rapping with a social intervention message with constructive criticism. Through life stories we see happen to us every day around us. We started by a conversation about musical art and visual art in the capital city of STP. Me and the filmmaker Kris Haamer I had a talk about a track from my album that is coming out.

During our conversation I told Kris I’d like to make a video about domestic violence in Sao Tome and Principe because it’s something of great concern to society, because of the cases of deaths that have happened in the country, so I invited him to make a music video with a high quality, let’s say a super production to call the attention of people around the world.

So we decided to unite and do something more than a simple video clip but a short film using the story from my music. That’s where Elsa Figueira came to life.

As we all know to make quality requires investment and we know that Elsa Figueira has everything to be a world reference. To inspire women in a similar situation to gain courage to report these cases of crime. That’s why it’s very important to have the funding to complete this project with help from all around the world we can make a positive difference so it’s a chance to be proud of saying that together with Elsa you’re helping women around the world to combat domestic violence.

Vivalda Cravid Dos Prazeres adds:

Making this film to a broader audience will help raise consciousness of a range of problems, raise questions and promote discussion about the current level of knowledge about domestic violence and the gaps that still need to be addressed.

From the beginning, comprehensive evaluation has been seen as an important part of this movie, since the moment it was conceived to the moment it was last edited as a way to maximize the ability for learning from the diverse strands of the initiative and to guide future activities to address and prevent domestic violence in Sao Tome and Principe and in other countries.

Global Estonian Kris Haamer @krishaamer, a transmedia expert , explains:

Elsa Figueira isn’t easily replicable because she’s a unique a personality. We don’t know how to make copies of her, so we’re trying to make herself spreadable. The approach we’re taking is to create a fictional character that people can interact with, talk to, on Facebook. At one point she might learn to speak other languages, for now she’s just speaking Portuguese and subtitled in the film to languages like Estonian and Norwegian, Italian, Spanish, English, etc.

She’s someone who should inspire women all over the world to realize that if they are in an abusive relationship, there’s a way out and you can empower yourself and take that way. That is kind of universal.

What could be possible ways to cluster the awareness raising and behavior change solutions through media in the context of the domestic violence issue?

There’s hashtag activism and there are social media movements and there are examples of this working. Common signs that members of the movement recognize and gives each one more courage to keep moving forward towards the goal, which in the case of domestic violence obviously is a future without violence.

Looking around and seeing other people who care about this helps all of us remember the goal. This film isn’t going to stop violence or stop anyone from abusing his or her partner. When that happens, it’s already too late. What it may do, is use popular media to get a discussion going and create positive role-models that influence people earlier in their youth, so they don’t grow up to be someone abusive.

Please consider supporting the film here.

Let us know your ideas about making behaviour change campaigns stick.

Andy Kozlov can be reached on a.kozlov@steppesinsync.com

Support Elsa Figueira via Kickstarter
Support Elsa Figueira via Kickstarter

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