It's the opportunity of a lifetime receiving face-to-face advice and hands-on training from some of the country's top film professionals, while working with a group that is passionate about the film industry and about developing skills among previously disadvantaged youth.  It's the MultiChoice Film Talent Incubator programme, from which 16 participants graduated at the end of September.

The programme, now in its second year, was first introduced in 2007 in partnership with Auckland Park-based Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking and is MultiChoice's contribution to both addressing skills shortages and assisting previously disadvantaged individuals.

According to MultiChoice CEO, Nolo Letele, the Incubator course offers an environment that nurtures and enables the development of both creative and technical skills.  "It allows us to contribute towards the promotion of local content development in a meaningful and sustainable way."

At the graduation ceremony at MultiChoice's Randburg studios on 30 September, 9 of the participants received awards for their work on four films, Invisible Pain, Scars, Painted Black and Valuable Ones. Judging was by a panel of industry experts.

  • Best Producer: Unathi Ndiki for Painted Black
  • Best Director: Sibusiso Mngomezulu for Painted Black
  • Best Camera Operator: Nduduzo Shandu for Painted Black
  • Best Sound: Tsholofelo Monare for Scars
  • Best Editing: Matala Maranyane for Painted Black

The Best Production was awarded to Valuable Ones - Pamela Sebigi, Thabang Moqobai, Pumeza Ndzobongo and Luyanda Mvubu.

Dr Melanie Chait, who established the award- winning Film and TV Unit at Monash SA, now known as The Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking, describes the Incubator course as "a means whereby participants are exposed to theoretical and practical outcome based exercises and workshops.

"Short format experimental pieces are also filmed, and exercises include research, proposal writing, scriptwriting, the production processes, administration, production accounting, editing, sound, camera, lighting and sound. Life skills and team building are also extremely important, as is exposure to theatre and photo exhibitions and the like. The course ran from April until end September, when the graduation takes place."

Big Fish is known in the industry as an organisation which gives talented young people the chance to gain accelerated, intensive training and find employment in the sector.

MultiChoice's Corporate Social Investment Manager, Itumeleng Letebele, explains why the programme is so special.   "As well as learning essential skills, the Incubator participants enjoy a once in a lifetime opportunity to receive face-to-face advice and hands-on training from some of South Africa's film professionals, who include names such as Tracey Clayton, producer of the renowned Tsha Tsha, and SABC educational drama series; Karin Slater, a documentary director and director of photography; and Khalo Matabane, the director of the award-winning drama series When we were Black."

According to Letebele, MultiChoice has indicated its willingness to sponsor another Incubator programme in 2009.

Most encouraging is that all of the 2007 16 graduates, handpicked for the programme from a variety of backgrounds, have found employment within the film and television industry.