SA film students crack the online streaming industry
Date: 16/07/2019
Writer: Danie
South African film students have two options to air their work – broadcast television and self-publish platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo. However, the renowned film and creative school, AFDA, has recently signed a deal with the online streaming service, Showmax. This deal will allow film students to showcase their works online and to a wider audience.

Video-on-demand services, like Showmax, are a highly popular way to watch series, documentaries, movies and short films online. This agreement between Showmax and AFDA will help to kickstart the careers of budding filmmakers, directors and screenwriters.

South Africa has no shortage of talent and potential. Numerous Hollywood blockbusters have been filmed and directed in South Africa, such as District 9, the 2018 Tomb Raider and The Avengers: Age of Ultron. These films have presented magnificent opportunities for South Africa’s film industry, but young filmmakers and directors aren’t always afforded the opportunity to work on Hollywood films.

Broadcast television and self-publish services are difficult to crack

Similarly, mainstream broadcast television services are not likely to feature the works of young and aspiring filmmakers. These television networks will favour an American or Indian-made film over a locally-produced work by a film student.

The other option previously available to film students was self-publish services. YouTube is a highly-competitive platform with billions of uploads going up every day. It’s hard to get noticed on YouTube nowadays. Users also tend to prefer vlog-style videos rather than artistic films.

Online streaming is a new opportunity

Online streaming could be the saving grace for film students. Showmax, which is owned by satellite television conglomerate DStv, is providing local film students with a massive platform and exposure.

Since February 2019, a number of short films produced by AFDA students have been featured on the online streaming platform. These films range in genre, from drama and fantasy to documentary and animation. They range in runtime from eight minutes to an hour-and-a-half.

“AFDA, Africa’s number-one school for the Creative Economy, is proud to kickstart this exciting and meaningful journey with Showmax and AFDA students, ensuring emerging young African filmmakers’ voices are heard and given a platform,” says CEO of AFDA,Teresa Passchier.

“It’s ground-breaking to share young, local, culturally relevant content on the same platform as Hollywood blockbusters. I am certain that this unique initiative will serve to boost and develop the African film industry and the careers of many young South African and African students alike,” she explains.

Noteworthy student films found on Showmax

Two of the noteworthy films that are featured on Showmax are Junior and O-Puncha. Junior is directed by Bert Dijkstra and won the Audience Award in the ‘Made in South Africa’ category at the 2017 shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival awards. O-Puncha is directed by Adam Hansen and picked up two awards, Best Student-made Short and Best Editing, at the Eldorado Film Festival.

Another noteworthy film is Mlu Godola’s Sicela Amanzi, that tackles the subject of water shortages in South Africa. Films, such as these, shed light on serious issues that South Africa is currently facing. They tackle topics head-on and get the audience to think about issues in new ways.

“There’s immense depth of filmmaking talent in Africa and it’s a privilege to be able to give that talent a home and a platform,” says Showmax’s head of content, Candice Fangueiro. “Showmax is becoming part of the fabric of film and TV production in Africa, and importantly we’re doing this as a partner rather than just as a consumer. This is a key competitive advantage of being local and something we aim to continue to work on,” she says.

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