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A Call for First-time Directors from Across Africa

If you're a budding filmmaker with a feature film screenplay in the works, your big break could be just around the corner. Showmax is seeking proposals for a slate of ten live-action films from the African film industry and your video pitch could seal your first film deal. It's tough to land your feature film directorial debut but once you've demonstrated you can make a film well, chances are you'll be onto a second and third film project in no time.

First-time Directors Africa

This article will answer some of your burning questions and offers some useful guidelines on what kind of film projects Showmax is looking to back. Tailor your project accordingly to improve your chances of having your project selected in the second half of 2023 and your movie screened on Showmax in 50 Sub-Saharan African countries in 2024. Keep your video pitch professional, a true reflection of your abilities and create it in such a way that you can use it again even if your project doesn't make the final selection. The closing date for submissions is 1 April 2023.

The African streamer has won the Made-for-TV Movie Award at the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) two years in a row, first with Loving Thokoza and then with Boxing Day, Mandla N's first two feature films. Furthermore, Glasshouse, Kelsey Egan's debut feature, was the most awarded feature film overall at the SAFTAs last year, with five Golden Horns.

Glasshouse Film

Who's Eligible?

The new brief, developed in collaboration with the Joburg Film Festival, aims to discover new talent and expand the industry. The proposals must include a first draft screenplay and be set in contemporary Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, or South Africa, with a first-time director who is a resident or citizen of one of those countries attached. All official Ghanaian, Kenyan, Nigerian, and South African languages are welcome, and the final films must be longer than 40 minutes to be eligible for the SAFTAs Best Made-for-TV Movie Award.

In this event, first-time directors will not have directed a film or TV series episode lasting 40 minutes or more. Experience directing in other formats, such as short films and series, as well as commercials, is acceptable. Please keep in mind that all applicants must be African citizens or residents.

Local Stories

"Showmax's audience prefers local content, with seven of the top top ten most streamed titles in South Africa, eight of the top ten in Kenya and Nigeria, and nine of the top ten in Ghana last year being African," says Yolisa Phahle, CEO of Showmax and MultiChoice Connected Video. Making your first film is a watershed moment in the career of any director.

Phahle added that this brief is yet another attempt to empower local filmmakers to tell their own stories in their own languages for their own communities. Showmax is  looking for genuine stories that will appeal to our local audiences where romantic comedies, family dramas, and thrillers are always welcome.

Boxing Day Film

The Video Pitch

Pitches should be in the form of a five-minute video pitch in English. This video pitch should include brief bios for the writer, director, and producer, as well as a concise summary of the story, including the ending, an introduction to your lead characters, and a discussion of your chosen genre and stylistic approach, with visual references.

In terms of film funding, budgets will be decided on a case-by-case basis. As a basic guideline, films that require major set construction; extensive VFX or mass destruction of expensive property are discouraged and while staying true to their vision, applicants are encouraged to limit the number of characters and sets as much as possible.

The video pitch should include a mini-CV... short writer, director and producer bios, explain who you are, where you're from, what other projects you've done and why you're the right person for the project.

In your pitch and promotion, include your logline, premise, a story summary and the resolution. Present your film's story, characters, conflict, genre, themes and setting. Offer some detail of the story's beats, the emotional journey and plot points. Convey the stylistic look, feel and tone of your picture and use visual references to assist.

Submissions are now open on https://submissions.mnetcorporate.co.za/channel/showmax; entries close on 1 April 2023.