Neflix announces partnership to create content development lab for African writers

Global streaming service, Netflix and Realness Institute on Tuesday announced a partnership to create an Episodic Content Development Lab for African writers in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, adding that through the partnership, Realness Institute will foster a new wave of storytelling, while Netflix will use its expertise in episodic content development, production and insight into global content trends.
The lead of African Original Series in Africa at Netflix, Dorothy Ghettuba, while speaking on the partnership stated that “we believe that great stories come from anywhere and can be loved everywhere. We strongly believe that Africa has a wealth of untold stories. As we grow our slate of Originals in Africa, partnerships with organisations like Realness will help us achieve our goal of investing in writers who will bring diverse genres of authentic, local stories that cater for every mood and will ensure our members see their lives reflected on screen.”
The organizations explained that submissions into the Writer’s Lab go live at the end of November 2020 on realness.institute/episodic-lab and is open to writers with film and television experience in any genre (fictional or factual) or language. The Lab will select six writers to work on their projects to be developed and commissioned by Netflix and selected writers will be paid a stipend of 2000 USD per month to participate and are expected to be available full time for a period of three months from June to September 2021.
Since its inception in 2015, Realness Institute has delivered five editions of its Screenwriters’ Residency and it recently held its first Development Executive Traineeship and Creative Producer Indaba, in which the artistic director of the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF), Chioma Onyenwe was a participant. The Institute added that it will further expand its offering next year to the episodic content space, thereby promoting its mission to empower African storytellers and improve the film industry.
The co-founder and creative director of Realness Institute, Elias Ribeiro, said, “We had fun shaping the program with the Netflix team. We all share a love for storytelling, and Netflix’s writer-centric approach is very much in line with our ethos.”
According to veteran Ethiopian broadcaster and Realness Institute’s Director of Development and Partnerships, Mehret Mandefro, “This program is a response to the dramatically-changing broadcasting ecosystem, which has a very important role to play in building a thriving media ecosystem in local markets and providing episodic creators with distribution opportunities.”

Over the past year, there has been a massively growing appetite for new and exciting African content to star on global streaming platforms. Netflix has recently enjoyed much success with its first two African original series, Queen Sono and Blood & Water.

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