Opportunity for African Screenwriters in AuthenticA Series Lab

Realness Institute, the South Africa-based film development organisation, together with partner the StoryBoard Collective, a Swiss philanthropic organisation supporting transformative storytelling for social change, have announced that submissions open on 30 April 2024, for AuthenticA Series Lab, a screenwriters’ development programme.

AuthenticA Series Lab, now in its third edition and designed for African screenwriters, has proved to be a valuable springboard for African storytellers to elevate their craft and amplify authentic voices from the continent. The Lab allows screenwriters to immerse themselves in a community of like-minded peers, free from usual distractions, and become fully focused on bringing their ideas to life.

Four screenwriters will be selected for the programme which will be conducted both online, and in-person from 8 September 2024 to 3 April 2025. The screenwriters, using their already existing story concepts, will work with industry experts in a programme that includes mentorship, seminars, and workshops, as well as networking. The Lab culminates in their attendance at Series Mania, in March 2025, in Lille France, the largest co-production series festival in Europe. Here they will pitch their projects to decision makers, commissioners,  broadcasters, and producers. The writers all retain the rights to their projects. 

Well-known film industry development veterans Selina Ukwuoma and Mehret Mandefro will mentor the cohort, supporting and encouraging creativity and collaboration, while at the same time, developing workable “sales pitches” for their ideas. 

“Our goal is simple: to provide a nurturing environment where writers can hone their skills, infuse their stories with genuine perspectives, and challenge outdated narratives about Africa,” says Selina Ukwuoma who is AuthenticA Story Expert and Co-Designer.

Elias Ribeiro, Co-Designer and Director of the programme, will provide the cohort with valuable insights on market readiness, along with industry expert guest speakers. In previous editions guest speakers have included Cynthia Okoye (Talent Agent, Theatre, Film & Television Department, Curtis Brown Literary and Talent Agency), Sameer Gardezi (Founder and CEO, Break the Room Media), Frank Spotnitz (Executive Producer and CEO, Big Light Productions) and Femi Odugbemi (Founder and CEO, Zuri24 Media). 

“AuthenticA provides the most valuable gift you can give a writer, the time, space, and resources to lean into their voice and discover what it is they want to say,” says Mehret Mandefro, Creative Producer for the AuthenticA Series Lab.

Both the 2022 and 2023 cohorts of the Lab pitched their stories at Series Mania where there was significant interest in their series projects with an attendance of over 150 people per edition, as well as online delegates. The phenomenal success of the inaugural edition garnered rave reviews from industry experts and sparked lucrative deals with investors for all the 2022 projects now aligned to producers for further development. The 2023 cohort is currently in negotiations following their attendance this year. 

2023 alumnus Tiah Beye (Senegal / Côte d’Ivoire) has this to say about the experience: “AuthenticA was a transformative experience! Interacting with industry leaders not only refined my writing and design skills but also fostered a proactive mindset within me. This residency lab opens doors to great opportunities. In the six months I attended this incubator, I had over forty requests from international producers to read my pitch deck.” 

Laure de Peretti de la Rocca, director of the StoryBoard Collective says, “Through AuthenticA Series Lab, we offer a supportive environment where writers can flourish, develop novel narratives, and forge pathways to success. It has been a great honour to champion authentic storytelling and empower the next generation of African storytellers. We are looking forward to discovering the applicants for this third year.”

“We’re thrilled to be launching the third edition of AuthenticA Series Lab in partnership with the Realness Institute and the StoryBoard Collective. Series Mania provides an invaluable platform for African voices, showcasing the immense potential of African talent and fostering meaningful connections on the international stage,” says Laurence Herszberg, Managing Director of Series Mania.

The Canada Media Fund has joined the Lab in a partnership that will support the participation of one African-Canadian writer in the programme.

“The Canada Media Fund is thrilled to grow our partnership with Realness Institute by supporting the AuthenticA Series Lab,” says Jessica Lea Fleming, Director of Growth & Inclusion at the CMF. “This professional development program is an incredible opportunity for participants to develop original, episodic stories that speak to the many perspectives and experiences of African and African-diasporic communities.”

Deadline for applications is June 7, 2024 at 16h00 SAST.

For more information on eligibility and how to apply, visit www.realness.institute/authentica-series-lab or email [email protected].

By Andrew Germishuys

Founder of SAMDB | Actor | Armourer | Tech Enthusiast With over two decades in the film industry, I'm a seasoned actor and skilled armourer. I hold numerous certifications in acting and filmmaking, complemented by degrees and diplomas in IT and technology, giving me a unique blend of creative and technical expertise. When I'm not on set or in the workshop, you'll find me immersed in the world of gaming and VR, fuelling my passion for cutting-edge technology. Connect with me: X / Twitter Facebook Instagram Mastodon Threads Explore my work on SAMDB IMDb