USIU-Africa hosts the first East Africas Creative Film Producers Lab

By Rachael Diang’a
Photo: Greatlakes Lab

From Monday, October 25 to Friday, October 29, 2021, USIU-Africa hosted the first ever Greatlakes Creative Producers’ Film Lab in East Africa. In organizing the week long film event, USIU-Africa’s Cinematic arts department collaborated with Aftales, a Nairobi-based film organization and the French Embassy in Kenya, which funded the lab.

The uniquely structured film lab is a first of its kind in the region. It brought together twelve competitively selected film producers from Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda. Two of the film lab participants were USIU-Africa Cinematic Arts students, whose projects will be produced together with other Cinematic Arts students. Russell Matte, BA Film Production and Directing Junior who participated in the workshop says;

“In my own experience the Great Lakes Producers lab was an interesting week that was personally filled with a lot of industry experience. From the development of my characters, the story arch and putting all my ideas I had for 5 years was helpful in my final animated television show pitch. The participants where interesting to interact with building off ideas and listening to theirs as well and the networking between participants got contact and people who were willing and still are in helping me develop the characters in digital format and one was willing to produce the show so generally I’d say it was an amazing work filled week which has started to open opportunities for me even before I finish my final year.”

For his colleague at the film lab, Paul Kiama, a BA Film Production and Directing Senior the lab was very informative. He says,
“The experience was eye-opening, and extremely informative. The mentors and participants all shared about their own experiences working as Producers which was a treasure trove of tips and tricks that would probably have taken me several years of working experience to discover. The mentors also took time to go through and better our individual projects before culminating in an intense pitching session that took place on the last day. Under the mentorship of Aurélien Bodinaux, Joachim Landau and Constanza Arena, I was able to take several leaps forward in bringing my feature concept to life.”

The lab equipped the participants with skills and knowledge that contemporary creative film producer must have in order to benefit their film projects. This gap aimed at filling the currently glaring gap in the continent’s film space, where there is dire need for professional creative producers. The participants were given on-e-on-one mentorship by the experienced team of five mentors from across the world including USA, Mali, Kenya. Beyond these individual sessions, the program allowed the mentors to hold screenings and give talks to a larger audience, which largely comprised cinematic faculty, staff and students. As curtains dew for the inaugural edition of this film lab, we look forward to hosting the second edition in 2022.

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