On the opening day of The Joburg Film Festival, Showmax released an open commissioning brief to the African film industry calling for pitches for a slate of 10 live action films.
The African streamer has won the South African Film and Television Awards’ (SAFTAs) Made-for-TV Movie Award for two years in a row, first with Loving Thokoza and then with Boxing Day, the first two feature films from Mandla N. In addition, another Showmax film, Kelsey Egan’s debut feature, Glasshouse, was the most awarded feature film overall at the SAFTAs last year, with five Golden Horns.
Showmax’s commissioning brief for action films
The new brief, in partnership with the Joburg Film Festival, is aimed at finding new talent and opening up the industry. The proposals must have a first draft screenplay and be set in contemporary Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria or South Africa, with a first-time director attached who is a resident or citizen in those countries.
All official Ghanaian, Kenyan, Nigerian and South African languages are welcome, and the final films should be more than 40m in line with the SAFTAs Best Made-for-TV Movie Award category.
“Showmax’s audience prefers local content, with seven of the ten most streamed titles in South Africa, eight of the top 10 titles in Kenya and Nigeria, and nine of the top 10 in Ghana last year being African,” says Yolisa Phahle, CEO of Showmax and Connected Video at MultiChoice.
“Making your first film is a key turning point in any director’s career. So, this brief is another way we are trying to empower local filmmakers to tell their own stories for their own communities in their own languages. We’re looking for authentic stories that will resonate with our local audiences. Popular genres like romcoms, family dramas and thrillers are always welcome.”
How to submit
Submissions are now open online on the M-Net Corporate website and entries close on 1 April 2023. The selected projects will be announced in the second half of 2023 and screened on Showmax in 50 countries across sub-Saharan Africa in 2024.
Pitches should take the form of a video pitch in English of no more than five minutes. This video pitch should include short bios of the writer, director and producer; a concise summary of the story, including the ending; an introduction to your lead characters; and a discussion of your chosen genre and stylistic approach, with visual references. For inspiration, watch Mandla N’s Showmax x Actor Spaces directing masterclass on YouTube.
Who qualifies as a first-time director?
In this context, first-timers will not have directed a film or TV series episode of 40m or longer. Experience directing other formats, from shorter films and series to commercials, is allowed. Please note that all applicants must be African residents or citizens.
What budget is available per film?
This will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Period films that require set construction; fantasy or sci-fi films that require extensive VFX; and action films that require mass destruction of expensive property are discouraged, while applicants are encouraged to limit the number of characters and sets as much as possible, while staying true to the vision of their films.
What should my video pitch cover?
- Short bios of your writer, director and producer:
- Who are you?
- Where are you from?
- What projects have you done?
- Why are you passionate about this project and uniquely qualified to make it?
- This is a mini-CV and this is your time to humbly brag about yourself, so don’t hold back. Kindly refrain from attaching key crew and cast if they’re not legally committed to the project, but please do let us know what other confirmed new talent you are opening doors for on your film.
- Strong logline & premise:
- Record yourself and give a short but concise summary of your story, including the ending, in no more than 3m.
- Make this as intriguing and entertaining as possible. Think about every single word you use.
- What does your character want? What are they struggling with and how do they overcome it? Include the binaries and contradicting themes and resolutions.
- Where is this set and how does the setting shape the story?
- What is the genre of your film and how will you address the unique requirements of this specific genre?
- Introduce the characters and why they are relatable.
- Explain the overall beats to give an understanding of where the story and characters start, their emotional journeys, and where they end up.
- Include relevant plot points.
- Look & feel:
- Talk about how you are going to make this production.
- What tone and texture are you going for?
- What are your visual and stylistic goals?
- Use visual references to help your proposal.
Rather than a film, I’d like to pitch a Showmax Original series or documentary. What do I do next?
Showmax follows a stringent workflow process when it comes to both solicited and unsolicited pitches, which must be adhered to. MultiChoice has centralised its content creation across the business so creatives and producers must:
- Submit a proposal via the online submissions portal.
- If the proposal is successful, you will be contacted for a pitch session.
- If the pitch session is successful, we proceed to a head of department pitch session.
- If the head of department pitch session is successful, we proceed to a development agreement.