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TMP film students take next steps

Africa | TMP Training

IT IS A DAUNTING TASK to make a film with only two weeks of formal training, while working in an impoverished nation, with limited mobility, limited resources, and a studio consisting of a Flip camera and a laptop.

But as Africa Film Project (AFP) founder Jody Hassett-Sanchez, director of the documentary "SOLD", reminded the students during a five-day "bootcamp" in Washington, D.C., aspiring documentary journalists overcome such obstacles by taking chances.

The students, representing three African nations, were tentative entering this second phase of training, but gained confidence knowing that all filmmakers learn the most by failing.

"What seemed impossible is now possible," AFP student Gorgon Sabushimike, a radio reporter from Bujumbura, Burundi, told The Media Project. "There is a time to learn, a time to practice, and time to improve. The next step is to pitch our stories for broadcast."

All the students in the 2010 AFP seminar, which was sponsored by The Media Project, had also attended the first seminar in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2009. The 2009 edition focused on the basics of visual storytelling and on mastering entry-level editing software.

The goal of AFP 2010 was to professionalize the technical and aesthetic aspects of the students' work. The students brought with them the short documentaries they had completed in the past year, and readied themselves for frank critiques of their work.

Seminar instructor and filmmaker Greg King, whose documentary "Our House" has been picked up by The Documentary Channel, reviewed the student projects and offered suggestions as simple as making changes to the speed and location of crawling subtitles and as complex as effectively using a physical space as a character in a story.

The critical tasks of the week were tackling an industry-level editing tool called Final Cut Express and preparing the students to pitch their projects to international distributors.

The seminar concluded in a banquet where the students presented their upcoming projects to a panel of four D.C.-based journalists and editors from the national media. The panel awarded the prize for best pitch to Stella Oigo, who currently works for the Kenyan Broadcasting Company.

"These seminars have changed my perception of film making," veteran Kenyan journalist Chris Khisa told us.

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