The DFA was established in 2007 to promote and protect the interests of doc filmmakers in South Africa. To contact the DFA, please use the contact form: here . The DFA website is at: Membership applications can be made through the website here.

09 September 2010

NFVF Emerging Producer's Course Shares Invaluable Knowledge with Small Producers

This week saw part two of the Sediba Emerging Producer's Course take place at the National Film and Video Foundation. I was very fortunate to be on it and boy did I learn a lot!

If the first part that took place in July was an interesting insight into the value chain of filmmaking and a good overview of a producer's role in this business, part two was a serious crash course in how you get the money to make a film and pay it back. Angus Finney, an executive producer and the project manager of the London Production Finance Market, took us through the nitty gritty of international production finance and how not to get caught out when swimming with the "big fish".

They were two days of non-stop knowledge off-loading coupled with a lot of questions from a seemingly overwhelmed audience, including myself, as I had never heard of 80% of the strategies and production finance advice this guru was giving us. Angus took us through the ins and outs of putting together a package and raising finance that realistically matched the production in terms of budget and scale, so as to be taken serious by sales agents and other potential investors. He walked us through, what he termed, the 'dark art' of financing: juggling the demands of the different investors and financiers and bringing them all together in one legal document and repayment structure at the right point in time. He illustrated clearly with recoupment tables how the negative costs and investors are repaid in what order and what happens to the equity players after the break even point and the film starts to go into profit - if you should be so lucky.

To round it off, on the last day David Max Brown walked us through two of his finance plans: one for television and one for a feature film. This put all we had learned into a local context and showed us how best it is done here with South African investors and rebates.

All in all I am still reeling from the information overload, but I feel ten years wiser as a producer and want to really commend the NFVF on putting together, what is in my experience, the best training course for a producer I have ever been on.

The course cost me a thousand rand to register, which is 10% of the course's assigned value (although I would value it at far more than that). I had to apply to go on the course with a letter of motivation, preferably having a project in development, pre-production or production to take with. I found the application process simple and straight forward and the course itself was well organised (except for the aircon in the auditorium which froze those in the back and left those in the front baking). The handouts for reading over the duration of the course, that is spaced over four months, are excellent and well worth keeping on standby for the next production.

For more info visit the Sediba page on the NFVF site at

Pascal Schmitz, DFA Treasurer

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