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Content Lab will give African writers path to Netflix

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For writers and movie-makers, global streaming service Netflix is a holy grail, but the quest to reach it is also notoriously difficult. Now, a new initiative will open a path for African content makers. 

A South African-based non-profit organisation, Realness Institute, has announced a partnership with Netflix to create an Episodic Content Development Lab for writers in South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria.

The Institute, which has a mission to support the development of African content and its makers, will open submissions at the end of November. The opportunity will be open to writers from South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria with film and TV experience in any genre or language. 

Six writers will be selected from these submissions to work on projects that will be developed and commissioned by Netflix. The selected writers will be paid a stipend of US$2000 per month to participate and will be expected to be available full-time for a period of 3 months, from June to September 2021.

“We strongly believe that Africa has a wealth of untold stories,” says Dorothy Ghettuba, head of Netflix’s African Originals. “As we grow our slate of Originals in Africa, partnerships with organisations like Realness will help us achieve our goal of investing in writers who will bring diverse genres of authentic, local stories that will ensure our audience members see their lives reflected on screen.”

Since Realness Institute’s inception in 2015, it has delivered 5 editions of its Screenwriters’ Residency and, in 2020, the first Creative Producer Indaba as a Development Executive Traineeship. Now it will expand its offering in 2021 to the episodic content space. This is a further step towards the Institute’s mission to empower storytellers on the continent and the diaspora and push the African audio-visual industry forward. Netflix brings its expertise in episodic content development, production, and insight into global content trends.

 “We had fun shaping the programme with the Netflix team,” says Elias Ribeiro, co-founder and creative director of Realness Institute. “We all share a love for storytelling and Netflix’s writer-centric approach is very much in line with our ethos.”

Mehret Mandefro, veteran Ethiopian broadcaster and Realness Institute director of development and partnerships, says: “This programme is a response to the dramatically changing broadcasting ecosystem which has a very important role to play in building a thriving media ecosystem in local markets and providing episodic creators with distribution opportunities.”

Over the past year, there has been a clear appetite for fresh African content to star on global streaming platforms. Netflix has recently enjoyed much success with its first two African original series, Queen Sono and Blood & Water.

More information on the Episodic Lab, the eligibility criteria, and the submission process will be released with the call for submissions, which will be available on realness.institute/episodic-lab on 30 November 2020. For further information on Realness Institute, visit https://www.realness.institute/

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