Help African Journalists Tell Africa's Stories

by The Media Project
Vetted

We are gearing up - literally and figuratively - for our next documentary bootcamp which we will hold this summer in Uganda. For this training, we are importing some very senior journalists/filmmakers from Nigeria, Kenya and the US to ensure that our students learn from the best in the business.

So what is the curriculum for this bootcamp? Practical instruction on story structure, basics on filming, interviewing and lighting using small cameras and mobile phones. We'll also include sessions on how to pitch your story to key gatekeepers, how to build mentoring into your career and how to make a living as a freelance filmmaker/journalist.

The challenges ahead are practical - Will we have enough equipment for each student? Will there be adequate power and wifi to screen films and teach them editing techniques?

They're also theoretical - How can we best anticipate what these particular students need to know? What is the best way to help them keep up with the rapidly changing marketplace for news and documentaries?

We continue to receive encouraging feedback from our former students about the way that we served them with hands-on instruction all week instead of lecturing them from the front of the room. But do you know what means even more to them? The ongoing relationships that are forged with their future colleagues from across Africa and with their bootcamp instructors, who are committed to offering endless encouragement and critiques of their work.

Watch this space for updates on the Uganda program as we confirm our instructors and our students!

Thank you for your continued interest in helping us teach Africa's next generation the best ways to share their stories with the world.

 

"Just knowing that journalists and filmmakers across the globe genuinely care about my short documentaries is what keeps me going on the rough days."

                                             - African Film Project graduate

 

Pick up a newspaper or watch the latest documentary short and the stories you'll likely find from Africa are reported by journalists from Europe and the US. Many of the writers spend a day, a week, perhaps a month, in country to get their report. They don't have relationships with Africans outside of those in official circles and they don't necessarily have to account to anyone locally about the stories that they prepare. 

What we strive to do by training up journalist-filmmakers from Africa is to have them bring that context, bring that accountability and bring that richness to the continent's incredible stories that is so often missing. By empowering them with cameras, scripting and editing skills as well as providing ongoing mentoring, we are able to play a small part in fostering the next generation of Africa's story-tellers. 

Last month, we were able to bring one of our graduates to lower Manhttan for a two day event with journalists around the world. This was the first time she was able to successfully get a visa to the US from Kenya and said she believes that part of the reason is because of her work through the African Film Project. During those two days, she was able to make connections with broadcasters in the UK, Ireland and Eastern Europe who expressed interest in seeing her short documentaries and building a relationship that could lead to a broadcast of her work in the future. 

The genesis of this project was a vision for Africa's most powerful stories to be told by those who know them in their bones, those who live them and those who have the courage to tell them, despite the consequences. When one of our graduates is able to shine amidst a group of top journalists and filmmakers from around the world, we are thankful and proud.

We are still working to ensure that these stories end up in the proper pipelines to reach an international audience.  In 2016, we'll be looking to you for support in all ways, as we prepare to select our next group of students for the program. Thank you in advance for being with us on this adventure.

C.K. on location during AFP 2009 workshop
C.K. on location during AFP 2009 workshop

       "The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories."

                            ~ Mary Catherine Bateson / Writer and Anthropologist

 

Dear Africa Film Project Supporter,

One of our goals is to empower Africans to shape and tell the stories of their past, present, and future.

When we launched the Africa Film Project in 2009, our strategy was to work with talented journalists from across the continent who expressed an interest in learning how to craft compelling narratives in the form of short documentary films.

Like many aspiring filmmakers, these African filmmakers carve out time from their weekly schedules, including “day jobs that pay the rent” –  to practice their new skills – shining a light on untold stories and profiling individuals they believe the rest of the world should know.

Since our founding, these creative filmmakers have told the stories of Nairobi’s street children; Cameroon’s Albino population; and Burundi’s first female musical drum troop.

Along the way, many of these aspiring filmmakers share the skills they have learned.  One of our 2009 AFP journalists, C.K. from Kenya, recently told us, “the AFP training gave me skills in practical film idea creation, script writing and hands-on film and documentary production.”

As a journalist turned university professor, C.K. says he is now “able to impart practical skills in broadcast/film script writing and production to young journalists, most of who are today practicing in this field in various mainstream TV stations in Kenya.”

This is more important than ever as the continent experiences what some African leaders describe as a brain drain.  At a recent event, former South African President Thabo Mbeki called the number of skilled professionals leaving the continent “truly frightening.”

C.K. is rejecting this trend by choosing to stay in his country.  The skills he learned during our AFP workshops helped him become a better storyteller, a stronger teacher and a lifelong learner.  Since participating in the AFP workshop, C.K. has earned a Master’s degree and is now pursuing a PhD.

As we continue to reflect on our past and imagine our future we welcome your ideas to grow the African Film Project into a global program to help train the next generation of storytellers.

With our gratitude for your continued support,

The Africa Film Project Team

Children at Namugongo Martyrs Shrine
Children at Namugongo Martyrs Shrine

        "The mystery of storytelling is the miracle of a single living seed which can populate whole acres of human minds." 

                                                                         ~ Ben Okri / Nigerian novelist

Dear Africa Film Project Supporter,

Greetings from Uganda!  

We are visiting the Pearl of Africa this month, in part, to spend time with journalists from six African countries and listen and learn from their stories.  These stories will inform our future program development and we hope our talented filmmakers will one day be able to tell them on film thanks to your generous support of the Africa Film Project.

From the women at Nakasero market who spend their days preparing grasshoppers to sell as a local snack, to the children lifting their melodic voices in preparation for services at the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine, Uganda is a treasure trove of stories both complicated and compelling.

On June 3, 2015 an estimated two million people made their way to the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine to remember the dozens of people burned to death in the late 1880s for their refusal to renounce their faith.  This site, so important to Ugandan history, will make national and international headlines in November when Pope Francis becomes the third reigning pope to visit the shrine.

As we reflect on our past and look to the future we welcome your help in brainstorming ideas for a new name -- while we will continue our work in Africa -- we have been asked to expand the program to other countries thus the need for a name more global in nature.

With our gratitude for your continued support,

Caroline Comport

The Media Project

Yvonne
Yvonne

"Great stories happen to those who can tell them" 

                                   ~ Ira Glass / 21st Century Journalist and Storyteller

Dear Africa Film Project Supporter,

This month we have exciting news to share about one of our Africa Film Project graduates!

Journalist and filmmaker Yvonne of Cameroon is one of 15 finalists eligible to receive a Women Deliver scholarship.

More on the Women Deliver scholarship in a moment, but first a look at how your support helped Yvonne gain international recognition.

As part of our 2011 weeklong documentary bootcamp in South Africa, Yvonne received a video camera kit, a laptop loaded with editing software and coaching from Africa Film Project Director, Jody Hassett Sanchez, whose documentary SOLD: Fighting the New Global Slave Trade has been broadcast in more than 50 countries.

After this intensive week, Yvonne produced a rough cut on the practice of breast ironing in Cameroon. With guidance and feedback from Sanchez, Yvonne continued to refine her film. Shortly after Yvonne's breast ironing film was posted on our website, CNN did their own version of the story.

Yvonne's reporting on this issue also attracted the attention of the Cameroonian government, which joined her "Gender Danger" campaign to end the practice of breast ironing.

As we celebrate her success, please consider visiting the Women Deliver website and voting for Yvonne by March 20th -- the link is provided at the end of this report.  The top three winners will receive a scholarship to attend the Women Deliver's 2016 conference in Denmark.

We are grateful for your support in helping aspiring filmmakers and look forward to bringing you many more success stories about our graduates in the months ahead.

With our gratitude,

Caroline

Caroline Comport

The Media Project

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Organization Information

The Media Project

Location: Irvine, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.themediaproject.org
Project Leader:
Jody Hassett Sanchez
Washington, DC, United States

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