ZAMBIAN filmmakers have launched an association to regulate and standardise the industry to avoid exploitation.
Announcing its formation to information minister Dora Siliya at her office on Wednesday, Lawrence Thompson – interim chairperson of the Professional Filmmakers Guild of Zambia – said filmmaking was a business, which should operate as such.
Thompson said the association aimed at creating employment, protecting and sustaining the film industry for those who have chosen it as their source of livelihood.
“In Zambia, you as the government have created a conducive environment for the film industry to thrive by licensing many local, continental and soon international buyers of film and television content. This has opened up great opportunities for us as film and television content producers to have robust and thriving industry,” Thompson told Siliya.
He explained that the content of Zambian filmmakers was of high quality and great value and thus, the onus was on them to regulate and standardise the industry so that they were not exploited.
“It is for this reason that we as producers have found it imperative to come together, united and create a body that will help us achieve much more but also address the challenges we face currently or imminent to the individual producers as well as collectively,” Thompson explained.
He said the newly formed association was seeking government’s endorsement, through the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services.
Thompson said government’s support would help the filmmakers set up the right structures to regulate themselves, their partners and look into the interests and welfare of all industry players, from gaffers to producers.
“It is our hope that with the guild in place, the industry will be able to pay writers, actors, crew members, producers and directors exactly what they deserve in a timely manner,” he said.
Thompson explained that the association further intends to standardise pricing of content from the high end to the low end, regulate actors and actress remuneration, regulate producer cast engagement terms & conditions as well standards of operating.
He said Zambian producers did not get paid as well as their counterparts in other countries such as South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.
“Honourable minister, I must mention here that of all the current content buyers, local, continental or international operating in Zambia today, MultiChoice, through Zambezi Magic, have provided the best support in that not only do they buy content at reasonable rates in comparison to the others, they have also demonstrated efforts to support the industry further by holding workshops in the different areas of production such as lighting and sound engineering as well as to help producers understand the business,” Thompson explained.
He thanked MultiChoice and Zambezi Magic for introducing initiatives such as the talent factory to train more filmmakers.
“The guild will endevour to standardise the rules of engagement, pricing of content and create a sustainable collaboration between producers and buyers of our content,” Thompson said.
He said the filmmakers were praying that government establishes deliberate policy to compel television broadcasters of the content to increase further the percentage of local content their platforms for the Zambian audience.
“To all my fellow producers, it is time for us to work together. Fighting and trying to outdo each other will only draw us backwards. The industry is growing but let us all support the guild for a better and more organised industry. If we fail to work together we fail to succeed,” said Thompson.
And Siliya said the filmmakers needed to be united to achieve their objectives.
She said the local film industry had potential to create wealth for its players and the country if they were organised.
Siliya pledged support for the newly formed association.