BY: Mpofu sthandile.

Following a highly successful first edition, with positive industry feedback and investor deals being negotiated, Realness Institute in partnership with the Storyboard Collectiveand with the support of Series Mania Forum and the French Embassy in South Africa and the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) has opened calls for submissions for the second edition of AuthenticA Series Lab, beginning in September 2023.

The AuthenticA Series Lab is a programme designed for African episodic screenwriters to support the development of their series scripts. This is one of six programmes from the Realness Institute designed, with partners, to grow the African film industry by seeking out new ideas and supporting these in their development process. AuthenticA was designed in collaboration with the StoryBoard Collective.

The Lab is offered to four African screenwriters from African countries and the Diaspora working in any genre. The aim is to give episodic screenwriters an indispensable opportunity to bolster their craft, enhance their skills and highlight genuine, up-to-date viewpoints about the continent that frequently receives inaccurate and inauthentic representation.

The six-month programme comprises a stimulating combination of online and in-person sessions in a variety of locations from 19 September 2023 to 30 March 2024.

“This programme is the dream — to have enough time to immerse oneself in the development of a series one is passionate about, among like-minded peers, without having to worry about keeping a roof over your head,” enthuses Story Expert Mentor Selina Ukwuoma and co-designer of the programme. “The first cohort of writers grabbed that opportunity and really made an impact at Series Mania.”

“Providing African writers the time, space, and support to create brave episodic stories gives them what they need to build new worlds and circulate perspectives that widen what global audiences understand about Africa – from Africans,” says Mehret Mandefro, Co-Founder and Director of Development and Partnerships at Realness. “The relationships and community they build with their peers, along the way, is also part of the curatorial magic we hope to replicate.”

“StoryBoard is convinced of the power TV series have in shaping new shared narratives, as well as bringing culturally and geographically diverse people together. Our first edition confirmed the interest international funders have in talented scriptwriters voicing African stories that showcase authentic and unapologetic cultural perspectives,” says David Rimer, Founder of The StoryBoard Collective, a Geneva-based philanthropic organisation that supports the development and impact outreach of transformative stories.   

“The first edition was a great success. We sense a great desire for creation in many African countries,” says Laurence Herszberg, General Director of Series Mania. “Séries Mania wants to be the gateway for those projects to the industry, as we know that there is a strong interest from the international professionals.”

Once again, Story Expert Selina Ukwuoma and Creative Producer Mehret Mandefro will mentor the cohort through their creative process. They will participate in online mentorships and sessions over six months as well as attend in-person residencies in South Africas at the Coot Club, and the StoryBoard House in Switzerland, culminating with their pitches at the Series Mania Forum 2024 in France.   

AuthenticA 2022 alumnus Jessica Hagan speaks of her experience in the programme: “AuthenticaA Series Lab was truly an invaluable experience with support, masterclasses, and sessions where we were able to work as a group and get feedback. I felt supported all the way, especially on pitch day when I was more confident to pitch the project to producers and development executives. My TV series is now in development with a massive UK-based global production company who are passionate about premium content from around the world, including Africa. I’ve also made friends for life with my cohort; we’re constantly checking in on one another!”

Participants will work towards completing a Concept Story Pitch Deck and a pilot script. The rights of the developed work will remain with each writer. A monthly stipend, travel, and accommodation costs are covered by AuthenticA.

Submissions close on 14 June 2023.


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