What is the ATFT Export Accelerator program?
The ATFT accelerator program is a cohort-based program that includes mentorship in film and developmental components that will culminate in a our participants attending markets selected to advance their business. This program aims to assess the needs and challenges for black owmed South African film and television production and distribution companies, to export their content and attract foreign direct investment (FDI). The ATFT Accelerator program will address these challlenges with several combined long term development programs using local and international experts in various fields to make these companies and their products (content) ready for one or several particular export markets and conclude deals at those markets and generate sufficient ongoing revenue to sustain them.
Over the past 2 years ATFT has taken over a 150 black owned companies to international film markets and festivals. Their performance has been monitored through observation and feedback reports as well as surveys. The decision to execute this development program was preceded by a custom survey designed to establish the statistical facts and challenges for our organisation’s member companies.
Many of the experts and consultants ATFT are working with, have been facilitating special intervention programs/ workshops for the delegations before they leave for markets, and identified needs and areas of weakness that could be addressed through such a program. Extensive consultation was done with experts who have developed and executed similar programs in other countries, especially emerging economies such as ours, with successful results. We aim to improve further on these proven programs and customise the program to the South African emerging black business and export environment.
Needs or problems to be addressed by the accelerator:
- Getting local production companies market ready for international platforms
- Developing viable business plans for the respective production companies
- Development of content that can potentially be sold to various markets
- Exploitation of content, resulting in sales
The main objective of the program is to develop the film and television sector as a whole, in particular for black owned companies and black individuals. Another objective of the program is to enable some companies that are part of the accelerator a way to conclude sales and FDI deals at one or several of the markets ATFT takes delegaions to and develop new markets suited to their products (content). The program will go through an 18 month development process aimed at particular products (content), that the companies have developed. The program will give them the tools to develop future products (content) in line with international best practises and enable to sell them and obtain FDI without the program.
The aim here is to create a new pool of black industrialists in the film and television sector that can independantly financne their content development and production and creater jobs in the process. Through the international and local experts and consultants we aim to use their expansive expertise to expand the international network for the companies being developed that they can continue to use after the program has concluded. The program will draw from the pool of experts and combine their expertise into a custom made solution for each individual company and product or project with tangeable outcomes such as packaging and internationally recognised script approvals.
Some of the outcomes of the accelerator are to:
- Provide all the companies on our database that have been on export missions with an assessment of their skills, productivity and business acumen.
- Provide all the companies with a strategy that aligns their respective skills with a methodology to achieve greater productivity.
- Increase the commercial viability of black owned South African production companies.
The project has 3 primary activities or stages:
- The first stage is the assessment period, which we are currently in. We have consulted with some of our local and international finance and film experts in order to assess the companies that will be part of the project. We have set up an online survey that all the participants will complete. From this survey reports will be generated and customised for each individual company. The companies will also be divided into emerging/ lacking market readiness (group C), intermediate/ almost market ready (group B) and advanced/ market ready (group A) based on their level of skills and business acumen.
- The second stage is the strategy phase. This phase involves devising strategies for each company, based on their final reports from the assessment phase. This strategy will include selecting 3 international film markets for the class A companies to attend. Based on the outcomes of the report support will be provided to the companies in the form of finance/ business skills, and a marketing strategy.
- The 3rd stage is the implementation phase of the accelerator program for the class A and B companies; and both local and international consultants to mentor them throughout the process based on their needs assessment.
Impact: Benefits & Opportunities
The export accelerator has the potential to level the playing field for black production companies in South Africa. The success of the accelerator would mean an increase of skills for our participants, the establishment of more black sustainable black production companies and an increase in sales for local content internationally.
An opportunity would be seeing the participants in the accelerator:
- Make more use of co-production opportunities
- Create more high-end content
- Diversify their revenue stream
- Work with both local and international mentors to increase their business network reach
ATFT will also collect valuable qualitative and quantitative data on the companies that are on its database.
Neiloe Whitehead (Project Manager)
Neiloe Whitehead spent 7 years working in the production and development department of the National Film and Video Foundation. She spearheaded the documentary program at the foundation as a manager for 4 years.
She graduated from Rhodes University with a BJourn and majored in political science. She has since done post-graduate work at the Witwatersrand University and the University of Cape Town. She is passionate about development in the film industry and has trained as a script editor and more recently with Fireworx media as a development executive. Whitehead was part of the Eurodoc International program in 2011.
She has since acted as Head of Production and Development at the NFVF a number of times, sat on the panel of various festivals and evaluation panels.
Mayenzeke Baza (Director of International Relations)
Baza has been nominated to the Nelson mandela Bay business chambers top 40 under 40. After studying engineering, then working in a chocolate factory and consulting for many government agencies, he discovered a passion for the film industry through acting. He established Mandela Bay Pictures where he pioneered an innovative film-making competition for school pupils throughout the province. In 2008, Mayenzeke won a pitching competition hosted by the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, taking the top prize for a course in documentary filmmaking as a Thomson Foundation Fellow in Wales. Here he made his first documentary film for Channel 4 in the UK, ‘The Smuggler I Met in Cardiff.’ He has worked alongside producer Brian Woods who has won many BAFTA and Emmy awards.
Mayenzeke directed and produced documentaries for SABC, as well as for Al-Jazeera, with titles such as Chieftaincy and Ndiyindoda. He is also an ex board member of the Documentary Film Makers Association of South Africa and a co-founder of ATFT (Association for Transformation in Film & Television) championing the development of a more equitable industry. He is currently developing a slate of documentary, factual and feature films with a range of domestic and international co-production partners.
Mark Greenspan (International Advisor, ATFT Export Accelerator)
Mark Greenspan has spent the last 17 years working internationally to enable learning, networking and business growth. As the founder of The Digital Growth Lab he works with fortune 100 companies, start- ups, universities, government organizations and industry associations to build training, networking, business development and market intelligence initiatives.
As the founder of nextMEDIA, Canada’s most influential series of digital media conferences he created business opportunities for thousands of media and advertising executives. He also supported in the creation of the Rio Content Market, Latin America’s largest television market and built digital programs for the Banff World Media and the National Association of Television Programming Executives in the US.
Mark has also worked with several digital accelerators supporting in the creation of the next generation of entertainment properties. He ran the training program at the Canadian Film Centre’s Interactive Art and Entertainment Program and launched a digital accelerator for McMaster University and is working with the Association for Transformation of Film and Television in South Africa to build an export accelerator. He holds a Masters in Education from the University of Toronto in Comparative International Development Education and is passionate about leveraging digital change to contribute to a larger global shift of inclusiveness and participation.
NEILOE WHITEHEAD (project manager)
Office: + 27 10 900 2180