Multiple Choice Content Summit: Local Content Producers with Mixed Opinions

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Multichoice Zimbabwe held its content summit today with the aim of encouraging local producers to create films and television programs of a sufficiently high standard to be shown on DStv. Several actors from the television and film industry were present.

Various experts were present at the summit. Multichoice Southern Africa’s Content Manager, M-Net Media Operations Technical Specialist and Executive Producer of Connect TV, who is Zimbabwean, all have spoken.

The speakers explored what DStv considers in terms of quality for a program to be broadcast on DStv. Time was the limiting factor, but they got into some technical stuff including video and audio formats, bit rates, color gamut and other things that were beyond me. Knowing these elements will reduce the chances that the content will be rejected for quality purposes.

They also explained how content producers can then submit their work to DStv. If you are an interested independent producer, submit your content to submissions.mnetcorporate.co.za. Just make sure it meets quality standards or you will just be wasting your time and theirs.

Connect TV’s executive producer explained how producers can get funding for their projects and also make sure they don’t go over budget. She gave various tips on cost cutting measures that can be taken in film production. All extremely useful stuff. Or so I thought.

I’m not a movie producer, so when I talked to a few of them I got it. Multichoice commissions projects, that is to say finances a show but not so much for Zimbabwean filmmakers. Why? Quality. Let me explain what I learned.

This was by no means the first time that DStv had met local filmmakers. During these meetings, this information has always been more or less shared. Local filmmakers already knew what was being shared today or they could get it relatively easily from the Internet.

What local filmmakers need is training and technical support. They mentioned that this training and technical support has been provided in countries like Zambia (where Zambezi Magic is stationed) and Kenya. This kind of tech support is probably the main reason why these two countries apparently overtook Zimbabwe in the film.

Thus, Zimbabwean filmmakers without training and technical support cannot produce content of the same quality as their Zambian counterparts. This could explain why Zambezi Magic sometimes looks like a Zambian channel when it is supposed to be a Southern African channel.

So if the quality is lacking like that, Multichoice won’t find too many shows to commission and therefore Zimbabwean filmmakers have to get creative to get funding. This contrasts with South African producers who can talk about not going over budget.

Thus, Zimbabwean filmmakers cannot get funding because of poor quality production and they produce poor quality because they cannot get funding.

Multichoice said they would look into this to find a viable solution that could shake up the Zimbabwean film industry.

We have Zimbabwean shows airing on Zambezi Magic and around 10 movies have been ordered for release next year starting in February, so it’s not that bad. You could call it progress.


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