Today in #TheLagosReview

African films should embrace VOD

In July 2019, French television company Canal+ acquired the ROK film studio from Video On Demand (VOD) company IROKOtv, founded by film magnate Jason Njoku in 2010 (and backed by US$45 million in venture capital) for an undisclosed amount.

IROKOtv has an extensive catalogue of Nollywood film content — the largest in the world.It has viewers in 178 countries. This ability to span a larger network of African consumers and the diaspora greatly contributed to ROK’s acquisition by Canal+. IROKOtv’s key online streaming markets are Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States.

According to Fortune magazine report in 2014, the Nigerian government released data for the first time indicating that Nollywood is a US$3,3 billion sector, with 1 844 movies produced in 2013 alone.

The report states that “many observers believe that the global reach of African films could takeoff, led by VOD platforms and productions of Nigeria — the continent’s largest economy and most populous nation”.

African creatives and policymakers may also take a cue from the freakish success of South Korean musician PSY.

Around 2012, PSY, the South Korean-born Park Jae-Sang — shot to global fame on the back of Gangnam Style — a satirical song. The video generated massive global attention, with 3,4 billion views on YouTube to date.

The South Korean singer and rapper is now worth US$60 million. On average, YouTube pays content creators who own copyright material on its platform, between US$600 and US$7 000. The company calculates these figures via a system called CPM or cost per 1 000 views. Other factors are considered, including quality of viewers (age, gender, location), views by geographic location, type of content (viral, informational, news, comedy), frequency of video uploads, duration of views, subscriber count and engagement.

The overarching aim of the Africa Technology and Creative Group’s (ATCG) — a coalition of technology and creative professionals — is to galvanise grassroots actions in the technology and creative industry.

ATCG’s aim is to make African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) work for Africans, as well as to relay the message of opportunities for “new market connections, cross-border trade and intellectual property and laws”.

Demystifying office telephony
Investment is poised to be inspired by an awareness of opportunities brought by the creation of a huge marketplace, scalability of operations and harmonised cross-border trade regulations and movement.

The integrative power of ICTs, especially the internet, is undoubtedly vast, but the major challenge with technology, is the cost of data for users.

This fact alone emphasises the inter-relatedness of ICTs and the creative sector vis-a-vis content distribution and scalability for businesses within the sector.

In 2018, Liquid Telecom and Telecom Egypt inked a deal which has enabled the completion of a 60 000km terrestrial data network, known as “The One Africa” — spanning from Cape Town to Cairo. Telecom Egypt is that country’s biggest fixed-line and mobile operator.

The memorandum of understanding stipulated that Liquid Telecom would link its “network from Sudan into Telecom Egypt’s network via a new cross-border interconnection”.

Econet founder and executive chairperson, Strive Masiyiwa, said at the time: “Completing our vision of building a single network running on land, all the way from Cape to Cairo, is a historic moment for the company and for a more connected Africa . . . This network not only represents a remarkable engineering achievement that has overcome some of the most challenging distances and terrains on the continent, but it is also supporting the rise of Africa’s digital economies. Wherever the ‘One Africa’ network has been completed, we have seen dramatic increase of data traffic between nations connected to it. We expect to see a lot of traffic between Egypt and the rest of Africa. Where there is improved communications, improved trade follows as well. We need to see more trade between African countries. Therefore, ‘One Africa’ will provide an alternative to the multiple sub-sea cables that connect sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa and in turn improving the connectivity of Africa and enhancing the prospect that business services such as cloud computing and storage will become more affordable.”

Governments and businesses will have to continue to find ways to co-operate to set up the infrastructure.Aside from this, regulation may be necessary to curb the predatory instincts of businesses in the ICT sector in terms of profiteering, at the expense of subscribers, as this will prove inhibitive in the long run.

Africa’s 1,3 billion people almost match China’s population of 1,4 billion and India with 1,2 billion, but it is largely unsynchronised and hobbled with tariffs and barriers between countries, meaning the free flow of goods is still a dicey proposition.

Take the recent spate between Nigeria and Ghana, where reports of Nigeria closing its borders to Ghanaian traders in agricultural commodities. Nigeria has a nascent agricultural sector.

It feels the need to protect its own. Even still, these are teething problems.Despite challenges, regional blocs have long removed visa requirements for citizens in regions such as Sadc and Ecowas.

The operational phase of the African free trade area was launched during last year’s summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union on July 7, in the Niamey, Niger.

James Wolfensohn, who served as the ninth president of the World Bank Group (1995–2005) is quoted in an article by World Policy Organisation saying: “. . . the leadership of many African countries do not themselves support their cultures. And that’s a shame. I don’t know whether all the countries have cultural ministers. But if they do, I don’t think they meet together very much to project an African image.”

The creative and cultural industries need to be taken seriously and this means African administrations need to support research and development.

Entrepreneurs such as Masiyiwa and Njoku of IROKOtv, will propose and facilitate interventions to facilitate the growth of similar businesses.

For Love’s Sake; A Valentines Day Rant.

We are not all the same.

Especially not on a day like today. There are two distinct categories of people today.

Two emotional gulfs, interspersed with trenches of doctored Instagram visuals and plagiarised texts from dead men and vast drylands of the ‘love yourself’ collective, who try a little too hard to completely dismiss the essence of the day.

Two sects.

If you haven’t gotten a clue as to what I am referring to by now, let me help you out of your hermitage.

Today is Valentine’s day and everyone is loving up or at least pretending to be.

Eateries will be packed with hand-holding, underaged love interests and flowers ( red roses preferably) will be spirited across the city to endless destinations.

Condoms will be fiercely wrestled from counters and everywhere else they are on display and the male-to-female visitation ratio will hit its peak today.

ATM Cards will be mysteriously maxed out while googly-eyed teenage girls blush in appreciation.

And yet in the midst of all that heightened love activity will be a few people who are lost out of the amoral festivity.

Probably because they have no established love affiliation or were cleverly ousted out if it.

Our condolences.

So in the spirit of the day ( it really can’t be portrayed as a season), here’s an ecclectic mix of love quotes from famous writers that cover a spectrum of amoral expressions from being single (loving yourself) to managing a boo.

Here goes:

“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.”
Victor Hugo

“Life is the flower for which love is the honey.”
Victor Hugo

“There is no remedy for love but to love more.”
Victor Hugo

“‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

“True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.”
Francois de La Rochefoucauld

“A woman knows the face of the man she loves as a sailor knows the open sea.”
Honore de Balzac

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”
A. A. Milne

“If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than because he was he, and I was I.”
Michel de Montaigne

“A loving heart is the truest wisdom.”
Charles Dickens

“I like not only to be loved, but also to be told I am loved.”
George Eliot

“I was about half in love with her by the time we sat down. That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty… you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are.”
J. D. Salinger

“We loved with a love that was more than love.”
Edgar Allan Poe

“The one thing we can never get enough of is love. And the one thing we never give enough of is love.”
Henry Miller

“I believe in the compelling power of love. I do not understand it. I believe it to be the most fragrant blossom of all this thorny existence.”
Theodore Dreiser

“How absurd and delicious it is to be in love with somebody younger than yourself. Everybody should try it.”
Barbara Pym

“The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.”
G. K. Chesterton

“To say ‘I love you’ one must first be able to say the ‘I’.”
Ayn Rand

“Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.”
George Eliot

“To love another person is to see the face of God.”
Lawrence Durrell

“The richest love is that which submits to the arbitration of time.”

“A very small degree of hope is sufficient to cause the birth of love.”
Henry David Thoreau

“The supreme happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved.”
Leo Tolstoy

“We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.”
W. Somerset Maugham

“Love: the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.”
Mark Twain

“To love someone is to see a miracle invisible to others.”
Francois Mauriac

“We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.”
Anais Nin

“Love is only a dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species.”
W. Somerset Maugham

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”
Hermann Hesse

“There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.”
George Sand

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
Oscar Wilde

“We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.”
Orson Welles

That’s it guys.

Regardless of what your situation is, try to have some safe fun today.

Meet Zambia’s special effects make-up artist

The first glance of her work will make one think it has been done by someone who has a PHD in prosthetics or special effects make-up (SFX).

Her art, which is mostly inspired by horror movies, appear so real even after several close up looks.

The world has heard about African SFX makeup artists such as Fredrick Kariuki and Grace Murema from Kenya.

Today, the Southern African region on social media seems to be falling in love with Zambian SFX makeup artist, Naomi Phiri (22), who is from Lusaka.

Phiri grew up playing with dolls and make-up which made her fall in love with beauty and make-up in general. However, while growing up, she developed an interest in SFX make-up which was inspired by her love for horror and thriller movies.

“I am intrigued by how SFX make-up artists do their work in horror and thriller movies. They actually create an image that seems as if someone is really hurt. As such, I took it upon myself to learn on YouTube how SFX is done, and I am still learning more to advance myself.

“As much as people say I am good with the images, my dream is to make make-up my career, go abroad and learn more of special effects on a professional level. I feel I still have a long way to go,” said Phiri.

She said initially, she would just watch the YouTube tutorials but had no resources to try it out. It was only a year and a few months ago that she started doing practical tutorials.

“The first time I did SFX make-up, I was really afraid to post the look on social media because I felt it was not good enough to be seen by people. It took me weeks to post it and when I actually posted it, I got a good response from people who saw my work. So I continued with different types of images and more people started following what I was doing that really motivated me into doing more and here I am today,” said Phiri.

“As much I have always had interest and the passion for SFX, it was really hard to start doing it because I never had the right products to use, so one day I just started watching some short SFX tutorials on simple Halloween looks using what I could find in the kitchen. I was really surprised and happy as I started that same day to make some products for myself. So I started making my own scar wax, my own blood, and for some other look, I would use gelatine, school glue, all that, and some eyeshadows. I still do the same up till today which only goes to show that if you are determined you can do anything.”

Phiri’s favourite SFX make-up artists are Doug Morrow and Lola Maja Okojevoh. She mostly loves their work on The Curse of Chucky and Mr Bowen respectively.

“I love Okojevoh and I would love to meet her one day and work with her on something. She is one of the best in Africa in my opinion.

“My journey in SFX is developing positively, I am part of a Zambian short film project which I can’t wait to begin. The film is actually my first and I believe it is an opening to more and much greater projects.”

It is Phiri’s dream to also advance her skills professionally in cinema make-up school in Los Angeles, California. It is her dream to learn more about prosthetic make-up on casting and thus she is believing in God for a scholarship that will see her attending such a school.

The 22-year-old talent fell in love with beauty make-up when she was a toddler where her father used to buy her dolls and doll make-ups.

“My dad knew how much I loved make-up and when he bought the kits for me, it was indeed my happy place. I thank God for the ability that he gave me of being creative and versatile. Besides SFX, I also do professional beauty make-up, nails and hairdressing,” she said.

Here are a few of the best writing competitions for budding writers

Fancy yourself a published writer? These competitions could be for you.
Got a bestseller inside you but can’t seem to get started? Writing competitions are a great motivational tool.

With numerous awards for every type of writing, from novels, to short stories to poetry running throughout the year, it can feel daunting to sift through them all. Which writing competition is right for you? Which ones are open when? Where do you even start?

Our advice? Pick up your pen. It may sound obvious, but allow yourself to scribble down ideas. By letting your mind run free, you will be surprised at what happens when you give yourself complete creative freedom.

Then, pick a prize – and go for it. Here’s our round-up of the best writing competitions out there now. Good luck, and happy writing!

The Bridport Prize
“The story I wrote for the competition was the first time I felt I found that elusive thing – my ‘voice’. Without the Bridport Prize I would probably not have found my agent and quite possibly wouldn’t have written my book Behind the Scenes at the Museum so I have a lot to be thankful to it for.”

So says renowned novelist Kate Atkinson – could this be you next? First prize for the Bridport’s novel writing competition is £1,500, plus mentoring by The Literary Consultancy, consultation with literary agent AM Heath and publisher Tinder Press. You will also be published in the Bridport Prize anthology, not to mention an invitation to the glitzy awards ceremony.

And it’s not just the novel award. Bridport also runs competitions for poetry, flash fiction and short stories.

How to enter: Upload 5,000 to 8,000 words of your novel plus a 300 word synopsis onto the Bridport Prize’s website.

Entry fee: £20

Bristol Short Story Prize
An international short story competition opened to published and unpublished writers anywhere in the world. In addition to the main prize, all shortlisted writers are published in an anthology distributed by Tangent Books. 1st prize is £1,000, 2nd prize is £500, 3rd prize is £250. 17 further prizes of £100 will be presented to the remaining shortlisted writers

How to enter: The maximum length of submissions is 4,000 words (does not include title) and there is no minimum length. Stories can be on any theme or subject and are welcome in any style including graphic, verse or genre-based.

Entry fee: £9 per story

Finland, Lapland, young woman sitting at the window at a lake writing into diary
National Poetry Competition
One of the biggest single poem competitions in the world, the National Poetry Competition is open to anyone aged 17 or older. The competition is for previously unpublished poems of up to 40 lines in length.

As well as the top prize, there are nine other small prizes for second place, third place, and commended entries. First Prize awards £5000, second prize £2000, third £1000, plus seven commendations of £200 each.

How to enter: Online or by post, along with a completed entry form.

Entry fee: £7

The First Novel Prize
Have you written a novel that is self-published or yet to be published? If yes, this is the prize for you. The First Novel Prize aims to discover a powerful new voice in fiction writing. There are first, second and third prizes up for grabs. Novels must be in adult genres, and be over 50,000 words.

How to enter: You can apply by post or online. Ensure your details are on the title page of your manuscript, followed by the synopsis and the novel within the same document.

Entry Fee: £25

Creative Future
The Creative Future Writers’ Award is an annual award for talented writers from a wealth of backgrounds. It’s the UK’s only national writing competition for all under-represented writers, and includes any style or genre (except children’s or erotica).

Winners are selected by a panel of industry experts and are given the opportunity to develop their work through training, mentoring, assessment and coaching.

How to enter: You can submit one piece of writing in one category (poetry or fiction) or one in each category – poetry or fiction. Applications can be submitted by post, in person or online.

Entry fee: Free

Flash 500
Have you started or completed an as yet unpublished novel with a cracking first chapter? Is your opening guaranteed to grab attention? Judged by Headline publishing and with a £500 prize (runner up £200), this annual competition could be the boost you need to get going!

How to enter: Submit an opening chapter up to 3,000 words, plus a one page synopsis outlining the balance of the story.

Entry fee: £10

Bath Novel Writing Prize
An international prize for emerging novelists writing for adults or young adults. First prize wins £3000. The shortlist prize is manuscript feedback and literary agent introductions, while the writer of the most promising longlisted manuscript will receive an online place worth £1,800

How to enter: Submit the first 5,000 words of your novel in progress, plus a one page synopsis. Entries accepted online and by post. All genres welcome.

The Good Housekeeping Novel Competition
Well, we had to mention it, didn’t we? We’ve teamed up with Orion Books and top literary agent Amanda Preston of LBA Literary Agency to give you the opportunity to have your novel published. This year, we are looking for entries in the women’s fiction genre.

First prize is a publishing deal with worth £5,000, plus representation from Amanda Preston, as well as being featured in GH. Five shortlisted writers will attend a masterclass with Victoria Oundjian, Commissioning Editor at Orion Books, and will be given the chance to be represented by Amanda Preston, plus lunch with the Good Housekeeping team. So what are you waiting for? Get writing!

How to enter: Everything you need to know is here.

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