Multichoice Zimbabwe held its content summit today with the aim of encouraging local producers to create films and television programmes that are of a standard high enough to be showcased on DStv. A number of players in the television and film industry were present.
Presenting at the summit were various experts. The head of content for Multichoice Southern Africa, a technical specialist for M-Net’s media operations and the executive producer of Connect TV, who is Zimbabwean, all spoke.
The speakers went in depth on what DStv looks at in terms of quality for a show to be aired on DStv. Time was the limiting factor but they did go into technical stuff including video and audio formats, bitrates, colour gamuts and other stuff that went over my head. Knowing this stuff will reduce the chances of content being rejected for quality purposes.
They also spoke on how content producers can then get their work to DStv. If you are an independent producer who is interested, submit your content to submissions.mnetcorporate.co.za. Just make sure it meets the quality standards otherwise you would just be wasting your time and theirs.
The Connect TV executive producer spoke on how producers can obtain funding for their projects and also make sure they do not blow through their budgets. She gave various tips on cost cutting measures that can be taken in production of film. All extremely helpful stuff. Or so I thought.
I am not a film producer so when I talked to a few of them I got the picture. Multichoice does commission projects, that is fund a show but not so much for Zimbabwean filmmakers. Why? Quality. Let me explain what I learnt.
This was by no means the first time that DStv has met with local filmmakers. At these meetings such information has always been shared more or less. Local filmmakers either already knew what was shared today or they could obtain it relatively easily on the internet.
What the local filmmakers need is training and technical support. They mentioned that such training and technical support has been provided in countries like Zambia (where Zambezi Magic is stationed) and Kenya. This kind of technical support is probably the biggest reason those two nations have seemingly overtaken Zimbabwe in film.
So the Zimbabwean filmmakers without technical training or support cannot produce content of the same quality as their Zambian counterparts. That could explain why Zambezi Magic sometimes feels like a Zambian channel when it’s supposed to be a Southern African channel.
So if the quality is lacking like this Multichoice will not find too many shows to commission and so the Zimbabwean filmmakers have to be creative to obtain funding. This is in contrast with South African producers who can talk about not blowing through a budget.
So Zimbabwean filmmakers cannot obtain funding because of low quality production and they produce low quality because they cannot obtain funding.
Multichoice said they will be looking at this to find a viable solution which can jolt the Zimbabwean film industry.
We do have Zimbabwean shows airing on Zambezi Magic and about 10 films have been commissioned for release next year from February so it’s not all bad. We could call that progress.