Magic in Motion: Investing in TV's future

Aluta Qupa hopes to use the opportunities given to her by MultiChoice to empower other youths with dreams of joining the film and television industry. Picture: Supplied
Aluta Qupa hopes to use the opportunities given to her by MultiChoice to empower other youths with dreams of joining the film and television industry. Picture: Supplied

MultiChoice has played an important role in helping change the lives of many young South Africans. For the last three years, the M-Net Magic in Motion Academy has been upskilling film and television graduates with practical experience to help them kick-start their careers.

Through M-Net and MultiChoice’s investment of more than R2.5 billion every year in local content, they’ve been able to make a significant impact on the industry.

The company, which believes strongly in passing on skills to ensure true social transformation, has created flagship corporate social investment initiatives that are geared towards nurturing undiscovered talent in broadcasting and film making.

Through its investment in local content, all of these initiatives have a ripple effect in communities and employment creation.

As part of its enterprise development, MultiChoice works with content producers to help them build their businesses and the company passes on the skills it has acquired over 30 years.

In this way, upcoming actors, production houses, and technical and production teams have the needed support to tell their stories. Many of these stories become instant favourites among DStv viewers.

Bridging the gap between theory and practice, the academy delivers highly employable professionals for South Africa’s rapidly growing small and big screen industry. Graduates chosen for the 12-month internship learn from the best in the business and work across all phases of development, from preproduction to post-production.

The skills covered during the year include networking, collaboration, business acumen, production finance, resource management and social media engagement. Magic in Motion interns graduate with a certificate from the Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking.

Since 2014, eight films have been produced by interns, all of which featured in the top 20 on Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161) in their month of broadcast.

The Eastern Cape’s Aluta Qupa is one of the thriving success stories to come from this project. The Afda film school graduate has since started her own production company, A Tribe Called Story, along with two other alumnis from the Magic in Motion class of 2015 – Mbalizethu Zulu and Thembalethu Mfebe. They’ve now had six of their films air on television.

Qupa (producer), Zulu (writer) and Mfebe (director) started A Tribe Called Story after participating in a three-month MultiChoice Enterprise Development Start-Up Bootcamp, where they excelled in a challenge to identify innovative solutions for digital content.

“If I hadn’t joined Magic in Motion, who knows where I would have been now. It’s unusual for young people of colour to get skills support and have a company believe in what they can do and trust them with their money. I’m in a place of great privilege.”

The trio works hard at creating content for and about young South Africans by telling authentic stories of and for their generation. Some of the films they’ve produced to be broadcast on Mzansi Magic are Moratuwa, Umqhele and Unkosikazi Wokuqala – all well received by audiences. Qupa says they were given a financial investment and support in terms of mentorship to kick-start their production company.

“It’s scary when you have just graduated, not knowing what you’re going to do and where you’re going. Knocking on doors is difficult because people are obsessed with experience, which is impossible if you’ve just graduated. But the Magic in Motion platform is so amazing because of the opportunities it provides to get a foot in the industry. Magic in Motion is the only programme that makes sense right now in the industry.”

Passionate 26-year-old Qupa says A Tribe Called Story believes the depth and quality of their work rivals that of far more experienced and better resourced film makers, and that their skills coupled with their grit, passion and impact will lead to major success.

And they are grateful for how they have been and continue to be supported by MultiChoice.

Qupa says they make it their mission to pay forward the opportunities by hiring young film makers to work on their projects, rather than using the industry’s old hands. “To date, since we started in 2016, we’ve had over 100 people working for us – that excludes the service providers who we in turn give opportunities to.”

Having previously worked for different production houses, such as The Bomb Shelter, Ferguson Films and Urban Brew Studios, and experienced mentorship by some of the best creatives in the industry, Qupa tells #Trending that she has always been fascinated by the making of television.

“I always wanted to start my own production company, but that was a goal I thought I would only be able to achieve after 10 years of experience. However, it happened in two years with their support and investment,” she says.

“This initiative has been life-altering. I have grown as a person, as a creative and as an entrepreneur. I went from trying to find a job to being determined to create jobs for others. My passion is to tell our African stories. Having the ability to educate, entertain and influence society, and make a difference, gives me an adrenaline rush.”

Aluta's tips for young creatives starting their own business:

1 If you have a dream – start.

You just need to do it.

Have a clear vision and plan

This helps to keep you going even when it gets tough because, at the back of your mind, you will know why you started and what you want.

3 Get a mentor

Identify someone in the industry who has mastered being a creative and business person, and who can mentor you.

  • For more information about these and other empowerment initiatives at MultiChoice, visit multichoice.co.za
  • This is a project in partnership with MultiChoice



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