Announcing the Documentary Film Workshop!

A note from Sabrina Mahtani

The SLCCP documentary film training program started in May 2013, and is off to a strong start. Eight students (five men and three women) are being trained in all aspects of documentary filmmaking. Sierra Leone has no film schools and the few established filmmakers focus on feature films, akin to the “Nollywood style” Nigerian film industry.

The main documentary films that have been made about Sierra Leone are from international filmmakers, leaving a significant gap for Sierra Leoneans to tell and preserve their own stories. The SLCCP program is working withConcept Multimedia, a Sierra Leonean multimedia companyto fill this void. Idriss Kpange, the Lead Trainer and Co-Founder of Concept Multimedia, worked as a video journalist for Reuters for over 7 years and has worked on several short and feature length documentaries, such as Lost Freetown and Without Borders. He recently won a Your World View film competition and has been selected for the prestigious One Fine Day Film Training Program in Kenya.

Other trainers include Valona Taylor, a Producer who underwent film training in England, and Abu Bakar Sallieu, an experienced sound engineer. Over a year, the participants will cover three main strands in documentary filmmaking: pre-production, production and post-production. Pre-production covers the fundamentals of documentary filmmaking and prepares the students for the different stages in filmmaking. They learn about how to find a story, research the story, elements of storytelling, write a treatment and script and preparing for production. In production, the students learn the more technical aspects of filmmaking such as how to use a camera, sound gear and producing a film. In post-production, they learn about how to put together their film and using advanced editing software such as Final Cut and Premiere Pro.

Group work includes making short documentary films, with the opportunity for exceptionally strong students to produce their ideas for a short documentary film. Students also watch various documentary films to gain exposure to different genres and film styles. Currently the pre-production phase has ended. During this section, the students produced video blogs about themselves and their motivation to be part of the SLCCP program. They also put into practice finding and researching a story through filming a series of short interviews about citizens’ views about the constitutional reform process and the challenges of the educational system in Sierra Leone. The students are quick learners and have developed a passion for filmmaking, pressing to get into the production phase. There are very few female filmmakers in Sierra Leone, women mostly being seen in front of the camera. The three female students are aware of these challenges but are determined to make and exceed the skills of the male students and push forward to create more space for female filmmakers and women’s voices in film.

Idriss Kpange is also the co-founder of Opin Yu Yi / Open Your Eyes Human Rights Film Festival. This is the only dedicated human rights film festival in Sierra Leone, using film to raise awareness about human rightsIts second edition in 2012 contained nine screenings across Freetown, including special screening in Kroo Bay, Fourah Bay College and East End, to over 4500 people. The SLCCP program links well into this existing initiative as the students will assist with preparations for the festival and be further exposed to various film genres and the power of film to educate and inform. It will also be a platform to showcase some of the student films that emerge from the program. Opin Yu Yi runs an annual human rights film competition, which supports SLCCP’s aims of strengthening and creating further platforms for Sierra Leonean filmmakers. We look forward to continuing and expanding this program to more young people in Sierra Leone who are passionate about filmmaking and using film to preserve Sierra Leone’s culture, educate and raise awareness.

About the Author

Sabrina Mahtani

Sabrina Mahtani is Co-Founder of Opin Yu Yi Film Festival and a friend of African Film Festival, Inc. Learn More