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MTV Networks Africa launches events to “up the game” of video makers

Alex Okosi, MTV Networks Africa’s MD believes passionately that Africa can and should compete with best of the world in terms of music videos. It is the life-blood of the channels MTV runs in Africa. So next week, together with Shell as sponsor, it is launching a series of events to help makers “up their game”. This is probably the first time a major broadcaster has sponsored a series of programme making events.

When it started, the number of African music videos of quality was pretty low but Okosi was unwilling to compromise the quality of the output. And for some time, he faced criticism for not running more locally produced videos.

Because when MTV started its operations, music videos were not used to promote albums and outside of South Africa, African record companies were, by and large, small-scale affairs without the resources to support them. Now every band has its video and Okosi says “it’s not that expensive on DV cameras.” So 40% of the output is produced in Africa and his ambition is that this output will eventually be so good that it will be shown internationally.

The first master classes (5-11 November) will be launched in Johannesburg under the title of MTV Making the Video with Shell and it will be followed by four others in Accra, Lagos, Nairobi and Libreville. This first master class pairs veteran British video director Nick Quested - director of videos for Nas, Timbaland, Diddy, Nas, Brandy, TI, Eve, The Firm and KRS1, among others - and US R&B diva Amerie with South African video directors and local musicians. He will bring with him a crew of five from outside of the continent.

As part of the workshop process, a local South African artist will have the opportunity to have their latest video shot by Nick Quested, with a guest appearance by Amerie. MTV viewers and music fans will participate in the project by nominating their favourite local artist via online and SMS. One lucky viewer will win the opportunity of making a cameo appearance on the video.

Each MTV Making the Video with Shell workshop will be conducted by the internationally-acclaimed director, covering modules such as scripting, storyboarding, sound-mixing, editing and production. At the culmination of the workshop, the local directors and movie makers will be assigned specific roles with the international director to shoot the music video for the local artist chosen by MTV viewers.

At the end of the workshop roadshow, MTV base will produce a series of 5 half-hour TV ‘rockumentaries’, also entitled ‘MTV Making the Video with Shell’, which will chart the progress of the five separate music video shoots and feature the premiere of the African artist videos. The shows will subsequently air across sub-Saharan Africa on MTV base (DStv Channel 322) and terrestrial partners in Ghana (TV3), Kenya (NTV), Nigeria (STV) and Uganda (WBS).

Jeremy Nathan of DV8 who are organizing the masterclasses notes:”When you look at international acts, their music videos are big, slick and brilliantly done. In Africa, we don’t have the resources or the creative vision yet. We need to raise the bar for local content and inspire local producers.”

The music video is vital to the success of African music acts for as Okosi, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, MTV Networks Africa commented, 'A great video is a powerful marketing tool which can enhance and uplift an artist’s music, while communicating their artistry, vision and personality to their fans – helping them to sell more albums and bringing them to the attention of new audiences. On the other hand, a badly shot or poorly constructed video can really detract from your enjoyment of a track, and ultimately your perception of the artist. '

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