All posts by Gary

Netflix to add more Nigerian content

Global streaming platform Netflix is adding more Nollywood content to its service, after signing deals with Nigerian producers and distributors for one drama series and three films.

The films include Kunle Afolayan’s Citation, which will launch on November 6 exclusively and globally on Netflix. It follows the story of a young postgraduate student who experiences sexual harassment from a lecturer and stars Ini Edo, Joke Silva, Temi Otedola, Gabrie Afolayan and Adjetey Anang.

The movie King of Boys 2 will also debut in 2021. It follows a businesswoman and crime boss who is drawn into a power struggle that threatens all she holds dear. It stars Richard Mofe Damijo, Sola Sobowale, Nse Ikpe Etim and Efe Iwara and is the sequel to director Kemi Adetiba’s 2018 crime thriller King of Boys.

Young-adult series Far From Home, produced by Lagos prodco Inkblot Productions, will also launch on the service.

The six-episode series, created by Chinaza Onuzo and Dami Elebe, follows the story of a charismatic teenager and talented artist form a poor family. His dreams suddenly appear within reach when a prestigious scholarship to the most exclusive school in the country catapults him into the luxurious world of Nigeria’s top 1%.

The series will be directed by Chinaza Onuzo, Tope Oshin and Niyi Akinmolayan and will star Funke Akindele.

Onuzo said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with the Netflix team to tell the story of Nigerian youth on a global scale. We cannot wait to share with the world what it feels like to grow up in one of the most dynamic countries on the planet.”

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PlusTV Africa appoints CEO

Afropolitan 24-hour TV channel PlusTV Africa has appointed Lekan Ogunbanwo as its new MD and CEO.

Lekan Ogunbanwo

Lateef Fagbemi, chairman of PlusTV owner General News & Entertainment Company (GNEC) Media Group, said: “We are delighted to welcome Mr Ogunbanwo to the helm of affairs at PlusTV Africa. As an organisation, we know that the experience he brings to bear will help position and enhance the station’s creative and premium content delivery.”

Ogunbanwo said: “I am delighted to be a part of the PlusTV Africa family. I am prepared to up-skill the station and ensure that we have a channel that is the pride of Nigeria and, by extension, Africans.”

Ogunbanwo who has over 40 years’ experience in the broadcast industry started out as a trainee announcer with Lagos State Broadcasting Corporation in 1980.

He was general manager of Radio Lagos/Eko FM between 1997 and 2002 and permanent secretary of Lagos TV/Radio Lagos and Eko FM between 2005 and 2014.

PlusTV Africa has been set up to provide news content for African professionals who seek trusted and entertaining programming and content.

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Celestial Tiger Kix off in Africa

Kix will feature classic Bruce Lee movies such as The Way of the Dragon

Asian TV operator Celestial Tiger Entertainment (CTE)’s action entertainment channel Kix is set to launch on MultiChoice’s DStv in Africa.

Kix’s launch on DStv across Africa on October 1 will mark CTE’s first foray into the continent.

The channel features a mix of martial arts, action and thriller movies from the East and West, spanning 1960s to the present day, aired in English.

John Ugbe

These include kung fu classics from the Shaw Brothers library, action comedies, adventure and fantasy action franchises and action thrillers. The movies features the likes of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Donnie Yen and Bruce Lee, as well as other Asian action stars.

John Ugbe, MultiChoice Nigeria’s MD, said the channel will expand its slate, offering viewers more variety.

In addition to DStv, Kix will also be made available on MultiChoice’s Showmax streaming service from October 2, with 30 titles being offered on demand every month.

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Vivacom partners Fashion TV Africa

Vivacom, the largest telecoms company in Bulgaria, has partnered with Fashion TV Africa to distribute the channel on pay TV platforms across Africa via Eutelsat 8W.

This move will add blocks focusing on African fashion and lifestyles.

Vladimir Rangelov, senior manager broadcasting service at Vivacom, said: “We’re pleased to add Fashion TV channel on our 8W MCPC platform, extending their coverage to the African TV market.”

Fashion TV was launched in France in 1997 and is currently distributed worldwide by more than 50 satellite, cable and IP networks.

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Digital Play lands on ITVS’s Love Island

Love Island has been adapted in multiple territories including the US

Media and entertainment investment and management group Digital Play Nigeria has acquired ITV Studios’ reality format Love Island, bringing the format to Africa for the first time.

The deal was announced during the ITV Studios Fall Festival that took place this week in London.

The show will be recorded and produced in Nigeria and the first season will air on Television Continental (TVC) for terrestrial broadcast and on 9 Vision Media for digital.

UK-based production and distribution company ITV Studios created the dating reality show.

According to Maarten Meijs, president of global entertainment at ITV Studios: “Within ITV Studios, we vest a high number of iconic and powerful formats with a lot of staying power. Our partners know where to find us and together we are able to supersize our biggest brands in their local markets.”

TVC is a broadcast TV station in Lagos, Nigeria that provides entertainment, talkshows and news. 9 Vision Media Group is a mobile telecoms operators that has added content to its list of services, delivered via the internet to mobile devices and free TV set-top boxes.

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Idols SA finalists line up on Mzansi Magic

Idols SA will air without a live audience due to the pandemic

South African network Mzansi Magic’s hit talent show Idols has announced the final 16 contestants who will compete to be declared the best young singer in the country.

This years’ series, based on UK format Pop Idol from Fremantle, will kick off without a live audience due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Nomsa Philiso, director of local entertainment channels at Mzansi Magic operator M-Net, said: “The show is about to reach its peak, a stage where viewers are starting to have their clear favourites.

“While we have had to take the difficult decision not to have audiences at the live shows due to the current environment and in trying to keep our fans and contestants safe, we are excited that our valued viewers can still enjoy this exciting production with us from a distance.

“The fate of the contestants now rests with you, the viewers at home, as they will rely on your votes to ensure that they make it to the next round, starting with our male contestants this coming Sunday.”

The 16 contestants are Ntokozo, Zama, Jerodine, Dee, Ndoni, Melanin, Bongi, Be, Qhawe, Ethan, Mr Music, Succedor, Zahn-Reece, Jooma, Brandon and Sonwabile. The judges are Somizi Mhlongo, Randall Abrahams and Unathi Nkayi, while Tebogo Thekisho hosts.

Season 16 of Idols South Africa airs on Sundays at 17.00 on Mzansi Magic Channel 161.

Mzansi Magic is a South African digital satellite and general entertainment channel broadcast on DStv. It is owned by MultiChoice and managed by M-Net’s local interest division.

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Leye’s Finding Hubby bound for big screen

Novelist and social change advocate Tunde Leye is preparing a big-screen adaptation of his 2012 blog series Finding Hubby, which is due to hit cinemas this November.

Tunde Leye

The movie will explore themes of friendship, love and finding happiness in oneself. It follows the story of a 35-year-old single woman and her friends’ journey of self-discovery amidst the hustle and bustle of Lagos. The trio embark on an adventure of kissing many frogs in an attempt to find their prince.

Femi Ogunsanwo, producer and director of the film, said: “The cast and crew of the movie have been carefully selected to ensure that the viral story is retold on video without losing any of the elements that made it a fan favourite.

“It was a most exhilarating experience creating a movie out of this story that was followed by over two million people online and on radio. I can’t wait for fans to see what will definitely be the most talked about movie this year.”

Ogunsanwo is behind successful movies such as Ojukokoro, Knockout Blessing, Jeneji and Ajoche. The movie adaptation of Finding Hubby will be distributed by Genesis Film Distribution.

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OurTV secures La Liga rights

Direct-to-home satellite TV service OurTV has bagged the Nigerian broadcast rights to matches from Spanish top-flight men’s football league La Liga.

OurTV will air the La Liga Santander matches live on its sports channel 120.

Olusola Peters, head of marketing for OurTV, said the partnership partly fulfilled one of the promises made to its users and sports lovers who have been demanding live matches.

He said: “This is one major milestone for OurTV and we want to thank our esteemed users who have always believed and supported us.

“We value your input and suggestions as it is a core culture in OurTV to listen and please our viewers as much as we can. You asked for it. You now have it. Congratulations to us all. This is the beginning and it can only get better.”

He added that OurTV offers content ranging from entertainment to news, education, kids and sports.

“OurTV is Nigerian, aggregated in Nigeria and transmitted on a Nigerian satellite. It is being received on a decoder made in Nigeria by Nigerians. A one-time payment of set-up boxes that offers over 18 unique and exciting channels with the use of home-grown services,” he said.

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Netflix lines up first EbonyLife feature

Oloture centres on human trafficking in Nigeria

Netflix is set to premiere its next original Nigerian film, Oloture, on October 2, the first title produced for the global streamer by Nigeria’s EbonyLife Films.

The film will be made available in more than 190 countries by the SVoD giant, marking the first time the film will be seen by the public, aside from private screenings in cities such as LA and Lagos.

Executive produced by Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife TV, and written by Yinka Ogun and Craig Freimond, Oloture tells the story of a young, naïve, female journalist who goes undercover to expose the shady business of human trafficking in Nigeria.

The film was selected to screen in October 2019 at the prestigious JCC Carthage Film Festival in Tunisia, and it aims to put the spotlight on a current African crisis told by creatives from the region.

Announcing this news on Instagram, Abudu said: “We are super-excited about our first Netflix original feature film. A project dear to our hearts.”

She added that Oloture may well be EbonyLife’s most important film to date. “We had to make it. Human trafficking is a global problem, with trafficking networks flourishing across Africa through the exploitation of hundreds of thousands of migrants.

“According to the UN, more than 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders annually – looking for a better life, but ending up in forced labour, domestic servitude or sexual slavery. Oloture is another example of us telling the African story from our perspective.”

The film was directed by Kenneth Gyang and stars Nollywood actors including Sharon Ooja, Omoni Oboli, Blossom Chukwujekwu, Omowunmi Dada, Kemi ‘Lala’ Akindoju, Wofai Fada, Pearl Okorie and Omawumi Megbele.

Oloture is the second Nigerian original feature film for Netflix after it announced its move into Nollywood film production last year. Its first Nollywood movie was 2019’s Lionheart, produced by The Entertainment Network.

EbonyLife Films has produced seven feature films so far: Fifty, The Wedding Party, The Wedding Party 2: Destination Dubai, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel, Chief Daddy, Your Excellency and Oloture. Three of these – The Wedding Party, The Wedding Party 2 and Chief Daddy – are the highest grossing movies of all time at the Nigerian box office.

The company has also produced over 5,000 hours of original television shows, including Fifty, Castle & Castle, Sons of the Caliphate and On the Real, all of which are now available on Netflix.

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MultiChoice, M-Net roll out local channels

Pay TV operator MultiChoice and its pay TV channel M-Net are working to roll out new local entertainment TV channels in African countries including Ghana, Ethiopia and Mozambique over the coming months and into 2021.

New channel Ghana M-Net will carry M-Net original productions including a local telenovela, reality shows and comedy and will be positioned as a flagship network for DStv subscribers in the country.

The companies will also launch a general entertainment channel for Ethiopia, where M-Net is already working on its first telenovela in the Amharic language, as well as a lifestyle channel for Africa similar to Discovery’s HGTV and BBC Lifestyle.

Yolisa Phahle, CEO of general entertainment, said: “Now it’s time to showcase to ourselves the best of our fashion, the best of our cooking and the best of the way in which we live.”

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Silverbird, Integral partner on EPL matches

Entertainment channel Silverbird TV has agreed a sub-licence deal with Integral, the free-to-air rights holder for the English Premier League in Nigeria, to broadcast live matches from the 2020/21 season.

Silverbird will air one of the 3pm fixtures each Saturday on its free-to-air channel and will also show a handful of Premier League-produced magazine programmes weekly. The channel can be viewed terrestrially on StarTimes Channel 109 and UHF 23.

Abimbola Ilo, MD of Integral, said: “We are once again pleased to be bringing the excitement of the English Premier League closer to its fans in Nigeria. Silverbird is an entertaining television station watched by millions of Nigerians and it’s only right that the most entertaining football league in the world is added to its roster. With the Premier League’s popularity in Nigeria, this is yet another opportunity for its passionate fans to get exciting up-to-date content on free-to-air TV.”

Bola Salako, the chief operating officer of Silverbird Communications, added: “We at Silverbird are excited at the opportunity to avail our numerous viewers across Nigeria with select premium football matches from the most exciting league in the world: the English Premier League. Silverbird TV is primarily a family entertainment-oriented channel and it is quintessential for us to ensure that our viewers get the best of every appropriate programming genre.

“Sports is a major part of our content offering, and football in particular, as the acclaimed ‘king of sports’ holds particular appeal to a large section of our target demographic. And with the new Premier League season on the horizon we are looking forward to team up with Integral on this exciting new project of bringing premium sporting content to mass numbers of Nigerian viewers.”

Integral, which secured its rights in a sub-license deal from the Infront Sports & Media agency, the substantive rights holder for FTA distribution in Sub-Saharan Africa, currently has a similar deal with national broadcaster NTA.

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Lagos gov’t suspends LSFVCB director

The governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has suspended the executive secretary of the Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board (LSFVCB) for imposing a 5% tax on producers and digital platforms including Netflix and Iroko TV.

Adedayo Thomas

Gbenga Omotosho, spokesman for the state government and commissioner for information and strategy, said Bamidele Balogun acted without authorisation and was therefore suspended.

In a statement, the goverment said: “There is no levy on audio and visual contents of all physical and digital platforms in Lagos State. The executive secretary, Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board, Mr Bamidele Balogun, is said to have announced a 5% levy.

“The government hereby dissociates itself from the said announcement in the media. The executive secretary, who was not authorised to make such an announcement, has been suspended, pending an administrative enquiry.”

He added that the Sanwo-Olu administration was aware of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the industry and other sectors of the economy and a Federal High Court had barred the LSFVCB from levying film and video producers.

In June, Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court ruled that the LSFVCB cannot collect taxes at the same time as the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), as it would amount to double taxation. Despite this, Balogun wrote letters to several digital platforms, including Netflix and Iroko TV, demanding the 5% levy.

A letter addressed to Jason Njoku, MD of Iroko TV, dated August 31 reads: “We hereby request for immediate payment of the 5% levy on all audio and visual content produced, sold, distributed, marketed, exhibited, streamed, downloaded and shared across all physical and digital platform situate, lying and being within Lagos State.”

Balogun, who had earlier said that producers who failed to register would face severe sanctions by the board, declined to speak about the matter when contacted.

Adedayo Thomas, executive secretary of the NFVCB, said the new levy by the state government was wrong and would obstruct the growth of the sector.

“There is an existing court judgment on that matter. The move is wrong and I will be meeting with representatives of the state soon to look into the issue,” he said.

The Audio Visual Rights Society of Nigeria and the president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, Pretty Okafor, questioned the Lagos State government for going ahead with the levy despite a court judgment and claimed that the new levy would be challenged again in court.

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MultiChoice SA chief Rayner resigns

Pay TV company MultiChoice has announced the resignation of its CEO for South Africa, Mark Rayner.

Mark Rayner

In a statement, Multichoice said: “It is with great regret that today we announce the departure of Mark Rayner from MultiChoice, effective November 30. Having been part of the MultiChoice family for the past 14 years leading in various parts of the group, Mark has now decided to further his journey outside the group.

“Over the years, Mark has been a key part of driving growth, championing product innovation and pushing customer focus. We wish him well in the future. An announcement on Mark’s successor will be made in the near future.”

Rayner joined MultiChoice in March 2007 where he served as the chief financial officer of DStv Mobile until September 2008, after which he took the helm at the company.

As CEO of DStv Mobile, he oversaw the introduction of various mobile television services across the African continent. He was appointed as chief operating officer of MultiChoice South Africa in November 2013 and was promoted to CEO in May 2016.

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Osigwe named AMP president

The founder of the Africa Movie Academy Awards, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, has emerged as the seventh national president of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP).

Peace Anyiam-Osigwe

The announcement was made during the AMP’s seventh annual general meeting, held recently.

Adedayo Thomas, executive director of the National Film and Video Censors Board, told the AMP’s newly appointed executives: “It gives me great joy to congratulate you on behalf of the governing board, management and staff of the National Film and Video Censors Board on your very recent victory at the polls successfully conducted to elect new executives of the Association of Movie Producers by the AMP electoral committee in Asaba, Delta State.

“I am assured and convinced the new leadership with its rich composition of seasoned and accomplished industry practitioners who possess diverse experiences and tentacles will continue on that trajectory of visionary and transformative leadership, ingenuity, objectivity, consensus building, unity, transparency and accountability for sterling a superlative performance during their tenure.”

He also commended the association for a successful and peaceful election. He congratulated the previous president, Ralph Nwadike, for successfully leading the AMP for the last four years and veteran producer Zeb Ejiro for demonstrating incisive leadership and mentorship.

Promising to unite the association, Osigwe said: “To deepen the achievements of the association by opening other channels to enable members get value for their money, I will work towards ensuring that the irony of the country being the second largest producer of movies in the world but ranked poorest would be reversed.

“I assure you that piracy will be checked to protect intellectual property and to open an operational database for producers in order to create contacts for members. We also work for a review of the association’s constitution to form a working document, as we would explore opportunities in community cinemas, terrestrial television and the cable networks to ensure producers get value for their money.

“Also, distribution will not be a challenge as we shall explore the African market and if we can get only 1% of the market, it will be a great gain. We shall build the value chain by engaging and integrating almost 70% of movie producers in Nigeria.”

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TNT, StarTimes close carriage deal

TNT offers Hollywood movies including National Treasure

Chinese-owned African pay TV operator StarTimes is adding WarnerMedia-owned channel TNT to its offering.

TNT will be made available to StarTimes subscribers in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia from September 15.

The channel carries a mix of Hollywood feature films, such as The Transporter, National Treasure, Karate Kid and Free Willy, alongside original productions, including Human Capital.

WarnerMedia has a long-standing relationship with StarTimes in French-speaking Africa, distributing Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Boing, WarnerTV, CNN, TCM Cinéma and Toonami.

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MultiChoice invests in Ethiopia

Pay TV company MultiChoice Group is set to expand its investment and support the production of local content in Ethiopia.

Calvo Mawela
The investment is part of MultiChoice’s hyper-local content strategy to continue its investment in local content production and aggregation. Ethiopia is recognised as having huge growth potential with its large population (second only to Nigeria in Africa), impressive GDP growth and its largely untapped potential within the ICT sector.

Calvo Mawela, CEO of MultiChoice Group, said: “Our commitment to Ethiopia can be seen throughout our tenure. Unlike many other businesses, we remained in the country since we launched our local operation nearly 30 years ago. We have built a truly Ethiopian business which has delivered solid results for us over the years. The strong foundation we have established through our local business, knowledge and expertise, positions us with a distinct advantage as we seek to unlock opportunities presenting themselves.

“Ethiopia is open for business and has demonstrated its commitment to supporting businesses around the world. We will continue to demonstrate our commitment to Ethiopia through the development of local skills and industries, and through exciting plans for content that speaks to Ethiopians in their own voice.”

The company recently launched an Ethiopian channel, Zee Alem, on its DStv platform, invested in dubbing international content in Amharic as well as conducted training for SuperSport commentators in vernacular for local sports broadcasts.

“By continuing to invest in our local markets we intend to create lasting value for the local creative industry, with benefits including improved quality in the industry arising from training in our stringent technical standards; opportunities for local content creators; distribution of content in local languages; promotion of local talent who are able to build their individual brands; on-the-job learning for those involved in productions; and new content which we can license to other channels.

“In the aftermath of Covid-19, our commitment to the long term, and to creating local value chains and local content, is more important than ever. Multichoice is a business born and bred in Africa, and we are proud to reinvest in the continent for lasting socio-economic impact.”

MultiChoice has access to 19.5 million households across the continent with a library of more than 56,000 hours of local content in 17 languages for distribution via 33 proprietary entertainment channels in 50 countries.

In 2013, local content spending as a percentage of total general entertainment content spend was 30%. In 2020, it was 40% and is set to reach 45% by 2022.

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iRoko turns to North America, Europe

Nigerian video-on-demand company iRoko is planning to target markets in North America and Europe rather than focusing on African growth.

Jason Njoku

The move is part of efforts to reduce ‘cash burn’ and curb losses caused by, among other things, Covid-19, which have led to the axing of around 150 jobs.

Jason Njoku, iRoko’s CEO, said that even though international subscriptions grew by 200% in April, consumer confidence ebbed and collapsed as a result of the economic impact of Covid-19.

The pandemic came at a time when the company’s revenues were being further squeezed by the latest rounds of naira devaluations and an amendment to the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission code regarding payments to artists.

“All of the macro and individual issues plaguing West Africa were essentially not major issues in the West. Yes, jobs were being lost. Yes, economies were contracting, but with all the stimuli leaders were injecting, it made the impact on the average person marginal,” said Njoku.

“Our annual ARPU [average revenue per user] internationally is US$25 to US$30. When people talk to me about Netflix and its impact globally, and then in Africa, I always smile. My response is the same. Globally, streaming media is booming. In Africa, it is regressing.

“iRoko is now ‘pausing the burn’ and plans to hunker down and see what the next 18 months brings. Even after pushing incredibly hard in Africa for the last five years, our international business represents 80% of our revenue today. So by taking out Africa growth-related costs, we cut our US$300,000-per-month burn to less than US$50,000 a month. Still high, but once things normalise we should have a clear path to free cash flow and profits in 2021.

“We still believe in Nigeria, we still believe in Ghana, we still believe in Africa. It’s a strange thing to realise that even after almost nine years with iRokoTV, five exclusively focused in Africa, we still may be too early for Africa.”

Last year, iRoko sold its African film studio and international TV network ROK to French audiovisual firm Canal+ Group, which bought the company to strengthen its content production reach across Africa.

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Next Titan online auditions kick off

Entrepreneurial reality show The Next Titan has begun online auditions for its seventh season.

Kyari Bukar

Themed as The Unstoppable, the new season is on the look-out for business ideas that are immune to any pandemic, innovations that break boundaries and technologies that can survive any lockdown.

Production company Bravopoints International is seeking ambitious Nigerian entrepreneurs aged between 22 and 40 who can demonstrate their entrepreneurial acumen with unbeatable business ideas, commercial insights and business savvy. You can register by clicking here.

The top 50 contestants from the online auditions will be selected to take part in a two-week online bootcamp where they will use ‘dashboards’ to connect with one another and the bootcamp administrators and judges.

Then 25 of the 50 will be invited to Lagos for another two-week online bootcamp. The group also will be isolated in a resort or hotel and tested for Covid-19 by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

After their isolation, the 25 will have another physical bootcamp for both entertainment and final auditions before the top 16 are certified with a clean bill of health and moved to the Titan House for the main show.

They will live together for 10 weeks while facing a number of tough business tasks and avoiding eviction, with hopes of winning the cash prize of N10m and a new car to support their business idea.

The judges are top Nigerian business leaders and include board members Lilian Olubi, Chris Parkes, Tonye Cole and lead judge Kyari Bukar.

The show will air on Sundays on DStv Africa Magic channel 154/GoTV Channel 25 and on Saturdays on TVC and DStv channel 418. Previous winners were skincare entrepreneur Ogechukwu Alexis Obah and Amifeoluwa Yakubu.

The Next Titan is sponsored by Heritage Bank and its Lagos-based prodco Bravopoints is also behind other business-themed TV programmes such as The Proteges Nigeria, The Mavericks and Conversations With the Colossus.

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Highbreed apart

Coconut Confidential

Gbenga Ajetomobi, head of Lagos-based Highbreed Animations, talks about his latest projects and coping with the Covid-19 crisis while working remotely to ensure productions continue.

Gbenga Ajetomobi

Tell us about yourself and your company.
I am a 29-year-old 3D animator from Osun state, Nigeria. I live and work in Lagos. Highbreed Animations was initially a branding business I set up back in 2015 to use as a medium to promote my content. But this year, Highbreed Animations is not only a brand name but also a company that creates 3D animated content. We focus solely on character animation and our main goal is to tell as many stories with 3D animation as we can.

With the myriad animation studios in Nigeria, what makes yours unique?
Most animation studios in Nigeria are multi-purpose, that is they focus on animation as much as they focus on other things. But my plan for Highbreed Animations is to focus mainly on character animation, and I’m very passionate about animation and content creation. So my team and I work hard on every project to make it appeal to the audience and also have an international standard.

Recently you celebrated your five-year anniversary. How has it been so far?
It hasn’t really been easy. Most of the five years of starting Highbreed Animations have been spent on gathering knowledge and experience.

Can you tell us about your recent animated web series?
It all started late last year when some of my animation work was seen by [South African singer-turned-screenwriter] Lindiwe Suttle. She already has the idea of what she wants but as a writer she needed someone to make that idea become a reality. Coincidentally, she saw my works and was wowed. We hooked up, had a conversation and that was how we started developing her web series Coconut Confidential.

Coconut Confidential is a new African-produced animated comedy web series written by Lindiwe about her American high school life set in the 1990s. It tells the story of a meek black teenager who sets out to win back her black BFF while struggling to understand the complexity of interracial friendship. We were able to create the demo for the series and right now we are working on the pilot with the hopes of sharing it soon.

Are there plans for any upcoming projects or series?
Yes, I have projects that I am venturing into. I also have my own intellectual property that is the Ojo & Ebuka series. This will be produced in the future but currently I am working with a team to bring other peoples project to life and one of the project is Coconut Confidential, which all my energy is focused on. We are also working on a children’s show that will be disclosed soon.

How have you been able to manage with the pandemic while still producing?

For the pandemic, it is a global crisis affecting everyone generally because it stopped things from happening. As artists, we work remotely most times and it’s the same with Highbreed and its associates. Although, most of our international partners and collaborators were affected by the pandemic and as a result of this, we were also affected, making some activities slow down.

Another area that we were affected also was during the Coconut Confidential production while working on the trailer, the rendering service was affected by the pandemic and this affected our delivery too. Even in Nigeria, the pandemic was a major setback for us, making it difficult for me to meet up with my team members and also unavailability of tools. This was the main reason why we all had to agree to work remotely for safety purpose.

What do you think is the way forward, post-lockdown?
In my opinion, the way forward post-pandemic is for all individuals and entities to accept the fact that things should be done remotely and not basically seeing people face-to-face before you can strike a deal with them. At Highbreed Animations, most of our clients and deals are sealed online and after the agreement, we get their animation done and deliver it to them.

The pandemic has really shaped some of our orientation on how we handle things, it also makes the work faster and easier because it saves the time of going around different locations to see clients. From the comfort of your home, deals can be sealed and signed. As artists it makes us more productive.

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Okowa embarks on film village project

Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, state governor of Delta, Nigeria, has unveiled plans to build a “world-class” film village in Asaba, the state capital.

Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa

The move is being applauded by the Association of Movie Producers of Nigeria (AMPN), which revealed that it would be a dream come true to have all its film production in one place.

During a recent visit to the government house in Asaba, AMPN president Ralph Nwadike said that Nigeria’s movie producers are delighted with the governor’s plans for Asaba, a place that can now be declared a home.

“We have been to the Asaba Film Village project and now we can boldly say we have a home and a base here in Asaba. I am commending you, Mr Governor, with every zeal and zest because we are indeed coming to the promised land. I say this with all seriousness because wherever we go all over the world as filmmakers, they ask us, ‘Where exactly is Nollywood?’” said Nwadike.

“Nollywood started from Zeb Ejiro’s office but there is no place that is Nollywood like they have with Bollywood and Hollywood in India and America. And so, going to the Asaba Film Village will be our own Canaanland. It’s a promised land, it’s not just a Nollywood city, it’s a place where we can call home and we are really proud of what Governor Okowa is doing there.”

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