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Pan-African creative feeds local storytellers

Publishing Date : 18 February, 2019

Author : KEAMOGETSE MOTONE

Renowned creative consultant and director Allison Triegaardt has urged local creatives to tell African stories decorously as no one can tell them better.


Triegaardt has been involved in some of Africa’s most celebrated TV shows as a story consultant since 2009, including on Mzansi Magic’s acclaimed TV drama, Isibaya, as well as Nigerian smash hit TV soap opera Tinsel. Her most recent role is as an industry expert leading the MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) Masterclass in Storytelling. The Masterclass forms part of a continental training programme aimed at developing the technical skills of established and developing African creatives in cinematography, audio and storytelling.


Triegaardt explained that there are shifts in how television audiences are consuming stories and in turn, this has shifted how they are telling them. “There is a definite move towards more female–led stories which is great to see, I think in part due to the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. From the West there is an increase in science fiction and dystopian worlds like Westworld, The Handmaid’s Tale, Black Mirror, Stranger Things,” she said.


She explained that a good story, a solid structure, an unusual premise, style all have their respective roles to play in the principles of screenwriting. “There are characters that make viewers keep coming back for more. It is no longer enough to make characters dimensional with incredible arcs, interesting backstories and sharp dialogue, you need to craft the nuanced dynamics between characters to ensure that viewers relate and empathise with them, and are intrigued enough to want to find out what happens to them next,” she explained.


She explained that the script is the blueprint but it is a combination of different elements like marketing, social media, scheduling, an interesting premise, popular actors and personal genre preferences that actually attract audiences. “However, I believe that it is the audience’s parasocial relationship with fictional characters that actually keeps them tuning in,” she explained.


In conclusion, she reminded local content creators and story tellers that they have a wonderful voice, an opinion that counts and a unique point of view. “Use it! Surround yourselves with people who are more passionate, skilled and knowledgeable than yourself so that you challenge yourself to improve. Stay open to learning and new ideas,” she said.

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