Realness Institute once again makes a huge impact on the African creative sector in partnership with Netflix, the world’s leading streaming entertainment service, through its 2022 Episodic Lab and Development Executive Traineeship (DET) programmes to support screenwriters and mid-career industry professionals from Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya who are seeking opportunities to develop their original story ideas, in any genre and are looking to enhance their skills as story consultants respectively.
With millions of Africans being very talented and creative, Realness Institute offers Episodic Lab participants the opportunity of pitching their incubated stories to Netflix executives at the end of the programme. It also offers DET participants a deeper understanding of the story development process, exposure to a more nuanced approach in the support of writers whilst simultaneously holding writers accountable for their creative work. DET participants will work alongside creative producers and story experts in the development of their concepts and series pitch decks. They will also engage with international and local guest speakers every week for the duration of the programme.
According to Mehret Mandefro, Director of Development and Partnerships, Realness Institute, “What we have witnessed from the first Lab and Traineeship is that there is a deep desire for Africans to create their own narratives. This bodes well for a growing audience, based in Africa and abroad. We are so pleased to be a major player in lighting the fire of our amazing continental creatives. Also to hear from last year’s participants how they have been able to transplant everything they learnt in the incubator into their current work and other projects, as well as the impact we had in their lives and creative process.”
Realness Institute is not just stopping at the development of the participants, it is taking a step further by giving each participant a monthly stipend of USD 2,000 (Two Thousand US Dollars) during the incubation period which will take place online between 1st May 2022 to 31st July 2022. This stipend is to cover living expenses as they focus on their concept development while being mentored.
While there is no guarantee that any proposal will be developed further by Netflix, it is a unique opportunity to interface at key milestones with the Netflix executives and be afforded the opportunity to pitch. The 2021 Episodic Lab alumnus Kudi Maradzika (Zimbabwean-South African) pitched an idea for a comedy-drama that has been selected for further development.
Reacting to her story idea been selected to be further developed, the 2021 Episodic Lab Alumnus, Kudi Maradzika had this to say, “This is an incredible opportunity and I’m grateful to the Realness and Netflix Grow Creative teams for helping make young writers’ dreams a possibility. The Episodic lab is tough but pushes you to be your best. I’m a better writer for it.” Provisionally entitled Bad Influencer (co-created with Justin Oswald) Maradzika is now starting to turn her attention to the next steps, which include Writers’ Room planning.
Commenting on Netflix’s partnership with Realness Institute, Allison Triegaardt, Netflix Manager for Grow Creative Africa, says, “We are delighted to continue our partnership with the Realness Institute for the 2022 edition of the Episodic Lab and Development Executive Traineeship (DET). The development, nurturing and support of talent pipelines give new voices a chance to be heard. This is key for Netflix as we contribute to the growth of the film and TV industry and honour our commitment to the African creative community.”
Interested participants are encouraged to visit the platform for the Episodic Lab programme application and the Development Executive Traineeship programme application and wait to be shortlisted. The programmes are open to screenwriters and mid-career industry professionals from Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya who are seeking opportunities to develop their original story ideas, in any genre and are looking to enhance their skills as story consultants respectively. Application submissions close on 14th January 2022.