Filmmaking: Training Is Not Enough

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Training alone does not make someone a great filmmaker, nor could it create a thriving film industry in any country in Africa or in the world for that matter. This is the view of Mozambican filmmaker, Pedro Pimenta, who on Monday addressed the two-day consultative film conference in the capital. He was addressing the conference on the way forward for the Namibian Film Commission (NFC) “Creative passion, verve and motivation for filmmaking is what creates and drives a vibrant film industry. It’s a fact that many great filmmakers in the world never attended any formal film training at any of the many formal, institutionalized bodies such as polytechnics and colleges of arts anywhere. In my view, such institutions only provide a platform from which great filmmakers can select and emerge,” said Pimenta, himself a product of the National Film Institute of Mozambique. Pimenta referred to a statement made on Monday that sixty percent of institutionally trained Namibian filmmakers find employment in the local industry. “We will be fooling ourselves thinking that such training institutions and or film schools alone can build a film industry. Training provides basically a mental framework, nothing else. Evidence of such failure abounds in Africa because these institutions have not been designed to fulfill the specific needs of the film industry. However, there are examples of film school successes in Africa in countries such as Ghana and Burkina Faso,” said Pimenta, who himself has worked in film in countries such as Angola, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and South Africa. The Mozambique filmmaker recounted the failure of a film laboratory that was set up by the Zimbabwean government and UNESCO and financed by the Danish government. “The project failed five years after its inception because support for film training went out of the limelight and the world focus shortly after film greats such as Marlon Brando, Clint Eastwood and others frequented Zimbabwe for a few years. Many trained Zimbabwean filmmakers became utterly frustrated. “These are lessons to be learned by Namibia and other countries,” he said. In his view, training of filmmakers is a very costly exercise that can benefit students. “However, we need to train trainers to train young filmmakers within the context of the specific industry in which they operate. These experienced trainers transfer acquired skills in the industry and transfer such knowledge to others willing to learn. Not only do they impart skills, they also feel appreciated and dignified to impart such skills,” Pimenta, founder member of the Audio Visual Entrepreneurs of Africa, which runs professional training programmes for African film producers, asserted.