South Africa took a bold step forward in its training community in 2016. For the second year in a row at the Durban FilmMart Tina-Louise Smith and Orla Garriques ran the Business Model Programme. This Programme is a series of dynamic, interactive workshops, running over the four days of the FilmMart, consisting of the Trainers' Boot Camp, Producers' Workshops and the Industry Panel.
The six South African filmmakers in the Trainers' Boot Camp, viz. Fidel Namisi, Michael Lee, David Brown, Jane Lipman, Nisha Naidoo, and Izette Mostert, who co-facilitated the two intensive Producers' Workshops in 2015 and 2016. They demonstrated its application to local filmmaking contributing their collective expertise to the process, resulting in more than two-dozen filmmakers applying the BMC to their film projects and companies.
Launched in 2011 as part of Canada's ASTOUND Initiative, the BMC workshop series was designed for content producers in film, TV, digital and interactive media, music and publishing. The initiative evolved the tool, originally created by Alexander Osterwalder and associates as an open-source business tool that was readily adopted by innovative thinkers across industries. In 2012 some of the Documentary Filmmakers Association delegation to Canada's Hot Docs International Film Festival attended the half-day BMC workshop, hosted by ASTOUND.
ASTOUND is an industry-wide initiative led by the Canadian Film Centre's Media Lab, in partnership with Hot Docs and OCADU, funded by OMDC on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Sport, Culture and Tourism. It is a special endeavour dedicated to creating innovative investment and business development solutions and the BMC was an example of this.
Cape Town-based filmmaker, Tina-Louise Smith was on that 2012 delegation. She was inspired by the BMC, saw how it could help the local industry, and committed to bring the workshops to South Africa.
"Suddenly I understood business terminology," Smith says. "I could see clearly how to map the business plan for the project I was working with. If this tool could make the business of filmmaking clear to me, I was certain it could do the same for other filmmakers and producers back home."
It took three years to realise this idea. Smith worked with the CFC Media Lab's Ana Serrano and ASTOUND's Orla Garriques to design the pilot BMC programme for the DFM 2015. A core part of this pilot included a Trainers' Boot Camp, training local producers to become BMC trainers by applying the tools and methodologies to their projects. In turn they would train producers outside the DFM.
Producer David Max Brown, one of the six core trainers, has been amazed at the results in "... getting creative filmmakers around a table to discuss a business plan for their projects ... [it] is fast and easy to grasp ... it's visual ... it allows participants to contribute equally."
Fellow trainer, Nisha Naidoo, agrees, "It's fantastic to see such big interest in business models in our industry - and also that it is now South Africans who are at the forefront of those qualified to offer this training."
A few of the BMC training team delivered a 90-minute introduction to the canvas to an overflowing house of nearly 100 producers at DISCOP 2015. They have since also facilitated sessions (as individuals or teams) to private companies, film schools, and at Encounters in 2016. Trainer Fidel Namisi has brought the tool full-circle to students with start-up ideas in engineering - so that creative filmmakers are now teaching business tools to business people!
"Since the start of ASTOUND each year brings new opportunities to explore more territory with the programme. 2017 marks the 20th year of the South Africa-Canada co-production treaty and the third installment of the BMC programme at the FilmMart. Next year will include a special focus on co-productions and co-development models," Garriques says, "reflecting our bi-national team."
Indeed, with projects developed with the BMC last year already seeing fruition, Smith and Garriques encourage the trainers to take their knowledge and expertise beyond the FilmMart.
Agrees Producer-Trainer Jane Lipman, "We've already seen [the BMC] transform how young filmmakers think about their projects and it would be great to take it out into new spaces."
Look out for BMC events at this year's DISCOP and JFF, among others.
This year's training was funded by the National Film and Video Foundation, the Gauteng Film Commission, the Durban FilmMart, and supported by the DFA and the CFC Media Lab.
To contact the BMC-SA trainers, visit http://www.docfilmsa.com/business-model-canvas/