FILM COURSES IN KENYAN LEARNING INSTITUTIONS ARE NOT MEETING INDUSTRY NEEDS
I attended a "status conference" which was looking at the proposed new curriculum for KENYA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF FILM, THEATER AND FILM. What came out from the meeting which involved the academia and industry is the disconnect which continues to thrive between training institutions and the reality in the field. The effort to tap into the film and TV market has woken up in universities waking up both angels and demons in the process. It is the character of the training which must be looked into by a university which is seriously looking at being unique by creating a niche which supersedes both expectations and the competition. If the training has no industry input, then it is dead even before the pregnancy has been conceived.
Tthe changing trends in the business of film the world over driven by times, space, competition, politics, social metamorphosis, scientific and geographical discoveries is influencing the history and the current affairs in both commerce and application of the skills. As much as the element of research and academia will be the driver for university training, it must not escape the scrutiny of the industry on when it comes to the essence of research, which to every employer is more skills, better quality work, more money...
For a long time, film and television has been technically trained with the background effect of understanding three phases of the process 'PER-PRODUCTION, PRODUCTION AND POST PRODUCTION. The professional camera has traditionally had three sensors be it tubes( Extinct in the 90s ) and CCD( Already having a hard time competing with CMOS) today, this has been overthrown by technological advances yet majority of yellow notes lecturers still hold to the tradition of teaching this history as the industry norm. You start talking about the meaning of CMOS, how a censor works,the emergence of mirror-less cameras and their applications in both amateur and professional film making and they are completely lost. This has to stop immediately! They must take the power to read, learn, know, develop skills and advance in technology seriously. They must start walking the talk through what they say and do.
The seven levels of film and tv production;
1. PROJECT DESIGN( research, creation and development of the story from structure and concept to content, identifying the cast and crew and generation of project PR, identifying financing ),
2. Pre-production( by this i mean scouting( for locations) crewing and casting( from the project design list and planning.
3. CREATING A marketing plan and communication outreach .)
4. Production( technically bringing the story to life on set using equipment and facilities.... all through to post production, marketing and money.
5. Post production
I have rushed through the above, the idea was to show what the student must be equipped with as applied theory as per the industry of today. When a degree programme on film is created without understanding the character, the practice and expectation of the rapidly metamorphosing industry, we shall continue to have thousands of paper carriers masquerading as industry professionals. They will never get jobs as these will always belong to those who trained on the job and thus, they are grounded in the general and specific requirements of the industry.
The other question which must stick out like a sour thump is, whose degree is it? The trainee, the institution, the parents or guardians or is it a paper which contains the signature values of the industry skills and character of this graduate?
It is a fact that when many universities are not qualified to teach film and television, the fact of the mater is that the lecturers as "Qualified" as they are, lack what it really takes to be a film professional. The ability to show a student how to thrive in a cut throat, revolving, evolving and involving industry. The technical grasp on how the industry operates is missing in both the art and craft and hence the science of making money for the trainee when he or she graduates is lost.
What is in the industry in terms of skills expectations can only be gotten through the following:
1. Industry mentor-ship, incubation, networking, professional project design through laboratory apprenticeship which must be supervised by thoroughbred industry race horses.
2. Creation of serious trainee bodies which are linked to all organs of the industry, government and all relevant bodies dealing with matters film so that they can be able to know what is trending on a daily basis.
3. Unlimited environments to practice the trade with the relevance of current historical, political and commercial trend as this drives the social dimensions of the science to involve in the mathematics of the art, craft and Technics.....
4. The requirement to experiment as opposed to copy paste from other curriculum, this will bring the wow effect, refresh the understanding and make a course for the student which is market driven as opposed to senate driven.
5. Working to create a portfolio for the student while still at the university through internship, attachments, professional collaborations and professional volunteer undertakings will be key to creating, developing and grounding the skills of the student there-by making him or her industry ready.
6. The research must either develop into a practical book for instruction or a film/ television project.....
7. You need only three weeks to give basics, three months to start seeing the fruits of this and six months to get standard professional work from a student. Why not use the three remaining years working with the student in advancing the skills through money minting projects?
While the senate is the organ that eventually decides what goes into a curriculum( as I have come to realize) it is the employer who decides who makes the cut and who should be thrown to the lions den. The concept of creating a curriculum which is 70% practice, designing stories which can make money, consulting the industry from north pole to south pole and localizing the understanding of the curriculum by venturing into the industry networks will save money, energy and time for both the marketing and PR departments of these universities and the student by extension.
It is an open secret that of the thousands who graduate from universities, only a handful are employable, this number is usually derived from the fact that the students have passion and they engage the industry during the semester breaks, to get the skills and develop the ethics, and general industry character.
It is high time that the senate at the universities know that as much as they are the ones who call the shots when it comes to training, we call the shots when it comes to employing. If they cant do the job simply because they lack character and skills, then no matter the level of their academic achievement, they will only thrive at training institutions, to continue replicating the non existing skills which have been overtaken by events.
This is critical for us in the industry, let us open debate on this very important matter.
By Producer and director, John Karanja. CHIEF EXECUTIVE, MAGIC GALAXY LTD.
You may also want to read: