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‘Film is Africa’s key to economic driver’

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With several African countries including Malawi feeling the pains of economic challenges, a South African company Triggerfish has said film is the continent’s key to economic driver this year.

Triggerfish Animation Studios Chief Executive Officer Stuart Forrest said this recently when his company walked away from the Premier’s Entreprforresteneurship Recognition Awards (Pera) as overall winner, along with the titles of Business of the Year and Business with Global Reach.

Forrest told Biz Community that film is transforming business in the continent and that it needed to be supported.

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He said that film has several ways of being an economic driver further revealing that their first two films Adventures of Zambezia and Kumba have proved that South African films can make a profit and sell worldwide.

Forrest said the two films were translated into over 27 languages and licensed in over 150 countries, generating gross revenues of over R1 billion between box office and home entertainment.

According to him, the National Film and Video Foundation’s 2012 Economic Baseline study valued the South African film industry a t R3.5bn, but the study wasn’t able to accurately measure income generated after production.

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Recently Film Association of Malawi (Fama) President Ezaius Mkandawire called for support from the corporate world saying that the movie industry has potential to help propel the country’s struggling economy.

“All we need is the support from the government and the corporate world, we have the potential, we have seen lots of films on the ground and film makers are coming out and producing better movies with the little resources,” said Mkandawire, whose organisation last year held a film festival.

He then hailed DStv for introducing the Zambezi Magic which is a channel offering a plat form for Southern African countries to showcase their talent through among others music and movies.

“We would like to thank DStv for bringing this channel which will give a chance to film makers and other artists to have their talents showcased and in turn make money. All I can say to fellow artists and film makers is that let’s utilise this chance and produce better quality movies and music videos,” he said.

Zambezi Magic which was launched in July last year has also been calling for scripts from film makers in the country saying they wanted to have local stories.

Actress Joyce Mhango Chavula, who has received a nomination in the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards for her movie titled Lilongwe, said the film industry was the way to go and that it has shown potential that it can grow the country’s economy.

“We are still young in the industry but slowly we are getting there. All we need are the resources otherwise Nollywood is contributing a lot to the growth of Nigeria’s economy and Malawi can do it as well,” said Chavula.

Forrest said film has an economic multiplier effect.

“Film is labour intensive so it employs a lot of people. In animation especially, there are many different areas of expertise, it’s a great way for us to capitalise on our amazing creative and technical talent,” he said.

Forrest also said that film storytelling also has a cultural benefit and assists in promoting social cohesion.

“Every culture has its stories, and we need to be able to tell those stories.

Finally, there’s room in the world entertainment industry to hear a voice from other parts of the world,” he said.

Forrest said that this being their 20th anniversary, they have been giving careful thought to how to position Triggerfish for the next 20 years, and what “we need to put in place to ensure we continue to attract the best and brightest talent to work with us.”

Forrest also revealed that they have been running the Triggerfish Story Lab, a continent-wide search for writing talent with the dti and Disney, which he said has been extremely successful with nearly 1,400 applicants from 30 African countries.

“We are also developing a new film titled Seal Team, which we are currently shopping in the US,” he said.

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