The Africa Channel (TAC), the longest-running independent, minority-owned media company focused on presenting pan-African content to global audiences, announces a wide-ranging licensing and distribution deal with ROK Studios, a Canal+ company, bringing premier Nollywood films to US and global audiences.
The licensing and distribution partnership will encompass current releases and hundreds of hours from the catalog of Nollywood releases ranging from 2015 to 2020. Popular movies premiering in North America for the first time, include The Secretary, Ovy’s voice, Picture Perfect, Dear Mummy B, A Woman‟s Scorn and more.
Select premium content from over 370 licensed titles will be programmed on The Africa Channel platform cable platform in North America and the Caribbean, while majority of the catalog will be made available on Demand Africa through subscription video on-demand (SVOD) as well as the Free AdSupported Streaming (FAST) platforms globally outside Africa.
“We are delighted to partner with Rok Studios to bring North American audiences this expanded selection of content from Nollywood – the second-largest movie industry in the world‟ said Narendra Reddy, Executive Vice President & General Manager, The Africa Channel. “Canal + and Thema TV‟s commitment to presenting multicultural content to global audiences aligns with our own, and this is a first step in building an expanded relationship with one of the preeminent media companies in the world.”
The deal was facilitated and closed by Thema, a Canal+ group company and leading distributor of thematic and multicultural content.
“We are very excited to have teamed up with the Africa Channel and ROK Studios on this content partnership for the Americas. TAC‟s robust library speaks to the understating of the need for change in U.S. which will allow us to better respond to the ongoing conversation surrounding content diversity and multicultural productions,” said Patrick Rivet, CEO Thema America. “At Thema America we believe that content with a strong cultural identity is crossing boundaries to grab diverse audiences and start conversations.”
Launched in 2005 and 2017, respectively, The Africa Channel, and digital streaming platform Demand Africa, showcase the African continent’s most outstanding English-language television series, specials, documentaries, feature films, music, biographies, and cultural and historical content. The channel aspires to build bridges between cultures while reinforcing positive narratives of Africa through diverse content and programming.
Ashley McArthur on her new films and exploring the African market
Ashley McArthur is a highly sought after millennial film producer, screenwriter and director based in Atlanta, Georgia USA. For the last several years she has focused on independent projects working with up and coming actors starring in Judah and the Black Messiah, Step Up, All American, The Godfather of Harlem and many more. But, Ashley first garnered attention for her work on the hit youtube Side Chick Web Series. A show focusing on millennial relationships which gained over 4 million views and 35K subscribers. In our continuing series of interviews with key industry professionals, we welcome Ashley who sat down with our own Alaba Ayinuola for some quick insight of her new films, goals and perspective of the filming industry. Excerpt.
Alaba: What film project are you currently working on?
Ashley: I’m actually in post production of a short film, Goodbye, which I’m excited to share shortly. I think I’ll release it on my instagram page first to give my followers a chance to check it out. However, I’m currently in development of a new summer romance dramedy feature film. It’s pretty much about a medical student who joins her boyfriend’s family on vacation, where she’ll be meeting them for the first time.
Overall it’s a fun film with a unique plot that’s relatable to the Black community.
Alaba: Did you write this film?
Ashley: I did. I wrote this film earlier this year. As a writer, I always think my stories are amazing. But, I knew this story resonated well with people after receiving feedback from a service I use called, We Screenplay. They’re industry professionals who pretty much grade your script and give feedback. Well, I received incredible feedback with encouragement to move forward as they truly believe it will be successful. If you enjoyed films like Just Go With It, Guess Who, Roscoe’s Family Reunion, The Peeples, then you’ll enjoy this film.
Alaba: When you write, do you have actors in mind or do you just write?
Ashley: It truly depends. There are stories where I may write a story for a particular actor. I have this thing of wanting to contribute to the advancement of an actor’s career. To create that breaking role for an actor and/or just a role that I know an actor has been wanting to play. So there are times I do and times I don’t.
With this particular film, I had one actress in mind the entire time. Nicole Ari Parker. I have been watching her work since Dancing In September. Also, her performance on Soul Food definitely had me hooked to where she was an actress I knew I wanted to work with in the future. Her performances are so believable. On top of that, I believe she’s genuinely a kind and loving human being and character is important to me.
So prayerfully she connects with the script and enjoys the character I created with her in mind.
Alaba: The film industry is highly capital intensive. How are you funding the project and who are the investors you’re talking to?
Ashley: I have a great network of seasoned industry professionals who have been guiding me and connecting me. I currently have the interest of two investors which is a blessing being that this budget is over $2 Million. That may not sound much for some but as a Black indie filmmaker in the United States, that’s a great start.
Alaba: What are your goals with this film?
Ashley: Wow, I have a few… I definitely want this film to be a great summer film that people enjoy and reference in the future. I’m a very conscious writer/filmmaker but this film is actually light and fun. We had two years of trauma with this pandemic, we deserve to have joy and laugh again. I want to create a high quality, cinematic, Black film with great acting. A film that talent is proud to be a part of and the Black community is proud to support. We can be a tough bunch. LOL.
I want to give up and coming talent an opportunity to get more exposure. Collaborate with the African film industry.
Lastly, continue to prove that films with Black talent sell internationally.
Alaba: One of your major goals is the African film industry entry. Why and what’s the attraction?
Ashley: I have this goal of intersecting cultures. I already planned for this feature film to have a part two which I want to film in Africa to incorporate the culture within this story. It’s important for me to break the stereotypes that our film industry and government have created about Africa. A lot of the propaganda has caused many people to remain distant and it’s unfortunate.
Black Panther didn’t do well because it was a “Marvel” film. It did well because we saw our reflection. It was African inspired, it was a depiction of what we have known Africa to be from the beginning.
Alaba: Who are your favorite writers, producers and directors in the industry?
Ashley: Okay, so I’ve always admired Mara Brock Akil as a writer. Her stories are authentic and relevant. She uses her pen to change the narrative of Blacks in America and she’s a conscious storyteller. Most of all, I love how I hear her voice in every story she tells. She’s been in this industry for like ever and she’s never lost her voice.
I respect Spike Lee as a director because he was always using his art to address real issues. He was always trying to keep the Black community awake and alert. Most importantly, I respect him for remaining true to himself. Despite all the negative coverage, the lack of Hollywood support, little to no funding, Spike wasn’t going to change. He walked in integrity and in my opinion he didn’t sell out for money and fame.
As for a favorite producer, Ava Duvernay. She too uses her platform to uplift, change narratives, be inclusive and overall create a better atmosphere for her team and talent to create. She’s very purposeful in the stories that she tells and goes against the norm. She’s a change agent who gives voice to the voiceless.
I just laughed out loud, literally because I realized everyone that I named are all conscious creators who are truly what I would consider positive disruptors in the industry. They have a heart for people, truth and they have respectable human beings. I told you, a person’s character is big to me.
KAP Academy partners MasterCard Foundation to train 300,000 young Nigerians in film production
KAP Academy Building (Image: KAP Academy)
KAP Academy and the Mastercard Foundation in a landmark partnership announced today, 300,000 young Nigerians will be trained in film, television, and motion picture production over the next three years.
Mr. Kunle Afolayan CEO and Founder of KAP Academy explained that the Academy focuses on growing the next generation of skilled filmmakers through the tutelage of veterans and film professionals who provide hands-on experience in diverse aspects of filmmaking to enrolled students. According to him, the KAP Academy will leverage smartphone technology for the training program, and teaching will be conducted through a learning app.
“The KAP App is a mobile learning application where multimedia content – which includes video and audio lessons, visual presentations, video simulations, and interactive testing – will be delivered to the students. It will allow students to have access to interactive learning content, industry professionals, community forums, an electronic library, a job board, financial support, contacts, and links among others,” Mr. Afolayan added.
KAP Academy’s training program will include The Masterclass Series, a virtual series of 20 episodes providing e-learning to aspiring filmmakers, covering several aspects of filmmaking from directing, cinematography, and the business of film using Afolayan’s acclaimed movie, ‘The Figurine’, as a case study. The virtual series will be free to watch on KAP TV’s YouTube channel.
The program will also include two levels of certifications from professional institutions in the areas of screenwriting, sound, editing, directing, cinematography, and production design, among others as well as practical hands-on training. It will also link participants to employment or gig entrepreneurship activities, not only in the film industry via placements and internships, but in related sub-sectors such as fashion, make-up, music scores, editing, and scriptwriting.
To ensure young people enrolled in the program have access to the tools required for digital learning, free tuition and smartphone devices will be offered to students from less privileged backgrounds. These tools are being provided through a partnership with the Mastercard Foundation and its Young Africa Works program in Nigeria.
TuneCore Launches Operations in Africa, Appoints Two Female Regional Executives
TuneCore Jade Leaf and Chioma Onuchukwu
TuneCore, the leading digital music distribution and publishing administration company for independent artists, has launched operations in Africa. Jade Leaf has been hired as Head of TuneCore for Southern Africa and will share responsibility for key countries in East Africa with Chioma Onuchukwu, who has been hired as Head of TuneCore for West Africa. Both Leaf and Onuchukwu will report to Faryal Khan-Thompson, Vice President, International, TuneCore.
Onuchukwu will be based in Nigeria and oversee countries in West Africa including Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. She will also look after Tanzania and Ethiopia in East Africa. Leaf’s territory encompasses Southern Africa, including South Africa, where she will be based, as well as Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Lesotho. Leaf will also manage TuneCore operations in East African countries Kenya and Uganda.
Said Onuchukwu, “I am elated to be joining a renowned, independent music distribution powerhouse, especially in an incredible era for music creators in Africa at a time when we are gaining global recognition and increasing momentum. I look forward to collaborating with and supporting local artists.”
Before joining TuneCore, Onuchukwu was Marketing Manager at uduX Music, a music streaming platform in Nigeria. There she worked directly with popular African artists such as Davido, Yemi Alade, Patoranking, Kizz Daniel and more.
Commented Leaf, “I am incredibly excited to join the team in a time where the global conversation is around independence and ownership. TuneCore opens up a world of potential for independent artists at every level of their careers. Africa is home to a diverse range of artists who are seeking a reliable distribution service who understands their local needs and can ultimately give them the opportunity to turn their art into commercial success.”
Previously, Leaf worked at Africa’s largest Pay TV operator, Multichoice as the Marketing Manager for Youth & Music Channels, where she led brand re-imaging and marketing efforts for Music TV giant Channel O. Before that, she worked at Sony Music Entertainment Africa, focusing on African artists and content, as well as numerous marketing campaigns & projects for local and international artists.
There has been a meteoric rise in the uptake of streaming services in Africa, the growth has been attributed to several factors such as an increase in internet penetration via smartphones, the entrance of international and local streaming platforms in key territories and its youth population – More than 60% of African’s are under the age of 25.
In 2020, TuneCore saw an increase in music releases globally, with many African artists opting to use the DIY Distributor – DJ Spinall and Small Doctor in Nigeria, Spoegwolf in South Africa, Mpho Sebina in Botswana and Fena Gitu in Kenya to name a few.
Stated Khan-Thompson, “Africa is an extremely exciting music market with a lot of potential for growth. By hiring Jade and Chioma to lead our efforts, TuneCore is well positioned to maximize opportunities for independent artists across the continent. Both Chioma and Jade bring a wealth of experience and genuine interest in helping artists make their dreams come true. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have two incredible women representing the TuneCore brand in the continent”