For this year’s South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs), M-Net not only received 115 nominations but one of its Magic in Motion (MiM) Academy graduates also received her first SAFTA nomination. Mbali Zulu, who graduated from the Academy in 2016, has been nominated for Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Soap/Telenovela for Mzansi Magic’s flagship soap Isibaya.
M-Net’s MiM Academy, which is investing in the next generation of film and television professionals, is where Zulu began her career after completing a three-year Audiovisual Communication degree at the University of Johannesburg. She credits her success to the M-Net initiative and Bomb Shelter Productions, a leading South African film and TV production company, where she now works as a junior story liner and scriptwriter.
Born in the small town of Pongola in KwaZulu Natal, Zulu knew early on that she wanted to be a writer and she fondly remembers her university lecturers telling her to never stop practising. ‘This industry is tough and far from glamorous, but it is very rewarding. I am so honoured to be nominated for a SAFTA and I still can’t believe it. M-Net and Bomb have paved the way for me to be a part of this amazing industry and I will always be grateful’, says Zulu.
Further success for the M-Net Magic in Motion Academy is that two interns from the current programme concluding in March, Neo Sibiya and Thabo Mashaila, have already landed jobs. Sibiya is working as a story liner and scriptwriter for Penguin Films, which currently produces Mzansi Magic’s telenovela Ring of Lies, and Mashaila has started work as the third assistant director on a new telenovela at Bomb Shelter Productions.
Sibiya says her journey hasn’t been easy but encourages those who are interested in a career in the film and television industry to persevere, be prepared to start at the bottom and to work hard. Mashaila says ‘I am looking forward to seeing my ideas and creativity come to life on screen.’
The purpose of the Academy is to provide a platform for the country’s top film and television graduates to launch their careers so we couldn’t be happier, explains Yolisa Phahle, M-Net CEO. ‘The interest in our interns from the industry has been incredible and we truly value our partnerships with the production companies we work with.
Now in its third year, the success of the Academy can also be seen in the quality of the Mzansi Magic Original films produced by the interns each year. Zulu and her class of 2015 were responsible for Forgotten and #Lit which ranked within the top 10 shows for the channel in December of that year. The movies produced this year will be screened on Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161) on 1 April and 13 May.