Working with aspiring creative talent can be a satisfying and rewarding experience for longstanding professionals in the film and television industry, according to film-maker Ben Mahaka.
As a selection judge for the current intake in the MultiChoice Talent Factory Academy for Southern Africa, he found himself thrilled by the amount of genuine talent and enthusiasm that exists among young Zimbabwean hoping to make it big in this demanding field of endeavour
“I thoroughly enjoyed being a judge for the MTF Academy,” he said.
“Interacting with highly driven young creatives who are at the coalface of our growing industry is always a joy for me. And being a part of the process that offers the best of them a unique opportunity through the MultiChoice Talent Factory is a great honour for me. I’m always watching to see what comes out at the other end of the process.”
Ben Mahaka is a director of Mahaka Media and has been in the industry for more than 20 years, and believes Zimbabwe has a major role to play in the growth and development of the world of film and television production.
“This means we must introduce more people into the industry, people who will be part of this growth and, indeed, will spur it on, and who will lead it into an ever-expanding future,” he said.
“I am pleased to have been part of a worthwhile exercise and I was especially delighted by the high levels of talent I saw in our selection activities.”
The MultiChoice Talent Factory is a major initiative created by MultiChoice Africa in 2018 to stimulate the growth of the industry throughout Africa, and within the context of this initiative has established three academies of learning, one each in Lagos for west Africa, Nairobi for East Africa and Lusaka for southern Africa. The first continental class studied at the academies in 2018-19, graduating in October last year, and this group included two Zimbabweans. The second-year is well underway and will graduate in October this year, and once again includes two Zimbabweans at the Lusaka site.
Also under the MTF portfolio are masterclasses for existing industry professionals, as well as a portal being used to connect industry operatives across Africa and to create awareness of the whole pool of talent in every field within the film and television industry.
“This the biggest and most exciting project in Africa, so it’s a no-brainer for Zimbabweans to take up the opportunities that are being presented by the whole initiative. They will get into the mainstream of the industry, expand their reach, collaborate with creatives from other countries and improve production standards,” said Mr Mahaka.
“MultiChoice Africa provides this breakthrough opportunity through the various action arm of the MultiChoice Talent Factory and I am thrilled by what it is doing and will continue to do so.”
He believes the MultiChoice Talent Factory initiative is a vitally important industry development opportunity for Zimbabweans because it offers merit-based opportunities for the brightest young minds to pick up the mantle of leadership and pull their peers forward.
“The MTF is helping to put together the building blocks of a Zimbabwean film industry with well-balanced, properly- educated young creatives who understand the importance of collaboration in filmmaking,” he said.
Ben Mahaka is active in the industry and is at present involved in three exciting projects.
“I’m working on Gaza, a minority-language television drama with a crew and cast almost entirely made up of first-timers from my home town, Chipinge. The series is an innovative training initiative for unemployed youths and it is shot on location in Chipinge.”
He has also been co-producing a feature film, Sunflowers In The Dark, with director Tapiwa Chipfupa. The project, still in development, won two major prizes at Durban FilmMart 2019. The third project is a feature documentary film, scheduled for action this year.
“I’m hugely optimistic about the future of film in Zimbabwe. Initiatives like the MultiChoice Talent Factory and its series of academies, coupled with a growing hunger for homegrown content, are working to grow the production infrastructure and to arm the talent pool with the skills to produce content that can compete with the best in the world. I genuinely believe that the future is bright for our industry,” he said.