Africa Day reflections on the MTF Class of 2018: Q&A with Tanzanian producer and MTF Academy alumnus Wilson Nkya
This Africa Day, looking back is just as important as looking forward. It’s been well over a year since the first group of MultiChoice Talent Factory Academy candidates joined the programme! Among them is Tanzanian filmmaker Wilson Nkya, one of the 20 East African young creatives selected to attend the inaugural year of the programme at the academy hub in Nairobi in 2018. MTF caught up with him to find out what he’s been up to since completing the programme.
What was your experience like at the MTF Academy?
MTF was one of the best things that happened to me. For once I saw myself dwell in this new beautiful world of professional filmmaking, it’s like I was living my dream. MTF allowed me to unleash and appreciate the creative side of me, and I discovered even more skills that I didn’t know I had like production design and art direction. Not only did MTF give me the professional skills of filmmaking but I also learned a lot about the business of film. Through MTF I’ve also built a great network of filmmakers across Africa.
What was your goal when you had joined the academy?
I was hoping to understand the world of professional film making and see how the knowledge I acquire can help me improve and add value to my country’s film industry and also pursue my career as an actor and producer.
Who had the biggest impact on you during the programme and why?
There were quite a few moments:
- The Coke studio internship was among my favorites. I had a chance to learn from the crew of young, passionate, professional individuals, and also being part of a show that celebrates African music, made me appreciate our own sounds.
- My fellow students, meeting and living with my fellow students had a great impact, each one of us was different and had so much to bring on the table. Through them, I have learned a lot and was truly inspired and motivated.
- Production design with George Mungai, the class was truly great and through the class, I discovered the skill of production design and art direction within me.
- Storytelling and scriptwriting classes from Damaris Irungu, Wanjiru Njiru, Professor Linus Abraham, and Mona Mbogo. They gave me a good experience on how to transform an idea into a film and how to tell that story professionally.
- The Making of the two films Promises and Ensulo. These films allowed us to see our own creative work coming to life, it was challenging and it gave us a clear picture of how the film world is, also it pushed us to give out the best in ourselves in making sure that these films come to life, and they did.
What was a standout moment for you during your time at the academy?
The day that Dr. Puleng Mokhoalibe made us share our personal stories and upbringing. Hearing the stories of my fellow students inspired me so much. I realized how different we are but also similar on many levels. I realized we are fighters who are driven by passion and what we believe in.
What have you been up to since completing the programme?
Me and my fellow Tanzanian MTF students (Jane Moshi, Sarah Kimario & Jamal Kishuli) formed and registered a production company called 4 Creations Entertainment Co Ltd. Through this company, we have pitched multiple TV content ideas to Maisha Magic Bongo and we’ve also approached other stakeholders in the film and TV sector in Tanzania. On a personal level, I have to join Ona Stories, a pioneering AR&VR storytelling company in Tanzania. Also, during this pandemic, Jamal and I became part of an education show created by Tanzania Institute of Education. I was the set designer and Jamal was the director. You can preview the show here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_1zXNjNzbg
Amazing! We’re glad to see that so much has opened up for you. Have you received any awards, nominations, or special recognition for any of your work since leaving the programme?
In 2019, our MTF film Ensulo won Best Production Design at the Kalasha Awards in Kenya and I was part of that production design team. Also, this year, Promises won as Best MTF Film at the AMVCAs. I was casting and art director for the film and was part of the story development team.
This is truly a great achievement. Has your creative process changed between the time you started with the MTF programme and now?
Before MTF I had worked on a lifestyle show that never saw the day of light, simply because it was rejected everywhere and I didn’t know why, after going to MTF now I know why! The biggest challenge is we didn’t do research, we failed to make business sense, we had poor production skills and we just didn’t match the standards that the clients needed. The MTF Academy has allowed me to learn all aspects of content creation and I am seeing myself as a professional content creator in Tanzania.
Africa Day is on 25 May every year and is a chance to remind the world of the dynamic continent we live in. As a creative, what does Africa Day mean to you?
To me, it’s a day we celebrate and reflect and look back to how far we have come, from telling stories around the fire at night to now we use advanced digital means and we make sure our stories travel and reach a large audience.
How have you been affected by COVID-19 as a creative professional?
Most of the projects that I hoped to have been part of have been put on hold, and some postponed, meaning financially I was a bit shaken, but through this pandemic, other opportunities came like producing educational content of the Tanzania Institute of Education for students at home. COVID-19 has also prevented a lot of creatives from physically working. Nevertheless, film and TV are important now more than ever as people stay home.
What’s your advice to creatives that can’t currently create content in the usual way?
With the growth of technology there are many ways to make content, looking at shows like MTV Shuga, Alone Together and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, we see how they produce their shows in the comfort of their home using less equipment and yet the audience still watch that content. I think now is the time to create as much, since we are sure there is an audience. I’m working on my YouTube channel and my social media pages to come up with different short format content using what I have, I just realized it's not really what you shoot with but what content you’re shooting.
MTF's theme this year is '#TheAfricaISee’ and is all about showcasing the kind of Africa that we as Africans see, and challenging the global stereotypes of what others see of our continent and its various countries. What is the Africa that you see?
The Africa I see is filled with passionate, talented, and dedicated minds who work each day and push themselves to reach their full potential regardless of all the hurdles they have to overcome.