ATFT Closes its Doors After 4 years of service to the industry
The Association for Transformation in Film and Television is wrapping after 4 years of advocating transformation in the film and television sector and taking black filmmakers to the international markets. From the outset, ATFT’s aim was to make the industry aware of the need for transformation and to create local and international social capital for black producers and filmmakers, as well as equip them with the tools to run a successful film and TV business.
After three years into the venture, we realized that the transformation of an industry was too much for three people to do part time through an unfunded association, and that the workload and demand for time and resources became impractical in parallel to our own career and business ambitions. We are very sad to end this chapter, but also proud of what we achieved and leave behind, namely a community of black filmmakers connected to their relevant stakeholders, having been exposed to the international film and television market and armed with the tools to run a sustainable business and to develop, produce and distribute global content from South Africa. “with this experience, we are definitely better off as South African filmmakers” – ATFT Delegate
The challenges this industry faces to transform are broader and bigger than any one individual, organization or stakeholder can overcome on their own. The biggest lesson we learnt, is that we need to work together as an industry to meet the challenges and that currently our industry is far too fragmented with every stakeholder, organization, association, government agency and broadcaster looking after their own constituency or just trying to survive, and therefor there is a lack of the collaboration needed to present a single voice to the critical decision makers responsible for funding and legislating our sector and thereby implementing transformation and inclusive growth.
The other challenges we observed and experienced over the years of assisting over 100 black owned companies prepare for and go to markets were the following:
- Companies that are not locally active enough, which in South Africa inevitably means producing for broadcasters or the private sector, and do not have the resources and capacity to develop content for the global market.
- Almost all the companies that we worked with had already developed hyper local content that did not appeal to the global market as it was too relevant to local audiences and not to global audiences. Yes, we must tell our stories, but we must tell them in a way that appeals to the largest possible global audience, if we want to expand the pool of investment and distribution outside of South Africa, which as we all know has a limited market for film and television
- Creating a business case for a film or television project is almost non-existent within the filmmakers’ thought process and again most filmmakers do not consider the investors’ perspective of their projects or content and show a clear return on investment from it
- Reliance on government funding that is more accessible to black companies for most of the budget for local productions, is both a blessing and a curse, as it means that there is little or no need for money from the market, from development to production, and filmmakers do not develop and package their projects to be attractive to the market
- There is a need for black companies to build networks amongst each other and work together to access funding and information. ATFT made some strides in creating such networks through the communities the delegations built beyond the trip to a market through WhatsApp Groups and them staying together and supporting each other at the market, but for the most part black owned companies are on their own out there and focusing on their survival which makes it difficult for them to mentor other or use each other as suppliers
Although we are pleased with the strides we made for transformation in the sector, we sincerely hope that those companies and individuals that benefited and became part of these communities, as well as the stakeholders that supported them and us along the way, will take up the baton and continue to push for an inclusive growth of the industry and transform the sector to be representative in ownership and representation of the South African population.
ATFT would like to sincerely thank those stakeholders and partners that supported us and the companies we assisted throughout the years, as well as the individuals that championed our cause, especially our co-founder Pascal Schmitz who left in 2015 and Marc Schwinges who unconditionally gave his time and expertise.
The stakeholders we would like thank in particular for their generous contributions, support and passion for transformation, are the Department of Trade and Industry, The National Film and Video Foundation, WESGRO, the Gauteng Film Commission, The Kwazulu Natal Film Commission and Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking.
We also want to take the opportunity to thank our international partners and mentors without whom it would not have been possible to prepare for and access the international markets, in particular Mark Greenspan, Martine Jean of Melange Media, Funa Maduka from Netflix, Andy Jones of Radio Films, Ashley Horner of Pinball Films, Todd Brown of XYZ Films, Kirk Cooper of Film Market Access, Jon Smith of Hoplite Entertainment, Audrey Kamga from Arte, Louis van Hoff of Okuhle Media, Jeremy Nathan of Zidaka, Chris Roland of ZenHQ Films, Lucas Rosant, Peter Hamilton, Tobias Jaeger, Hayet Bankera and Kisha Cameron Dingle.
For any further information or to access the surveys, research and reports ATFT accumulated over the years visit the website at www.atft.co.za or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The facebook group, page and twitter account will still remain open and active as a means of dialogue for the ATFT community.
This press release was co-written by the ATFT directors Tshego Molete, Mayenzeke Baza and Sifiso Kanyile.
ATFT with the aid of The Department of Trade and Industry has taken over 122 black owned companies and individuals to 20 international film and television markets since 2013 and brought over $50 million worth of production work, investment and sales revenue to South Africa through our missions to the biggest and most important markets and festivals around the world.
ATFT facilitates delegations of South African filmmakers to international markets and festivals under the umbrella brand “South African Indies” to foster co-production and the sales of their content to the world.
ATFT’s Statement of Purpose
“To inspire , develop, enable and empower black individuals, as well as black-owned companies, and grow the SA Film Industry”
ATFT’s Highest Aspiration
“An overall growth of 200% of South African content on local and international platforms of which 80% is made and sold by black individuals, and black-owned companies by end 2018”