The Accelerate Filmmaker Project like its name implies is the brainchild of Accelerate TV, and was inspired by Colette Otusheso, who is always excited about empowering and giving back to young people in our society. The program was targeted at young Nigerian filmmakers who are passionate about cinematic storytelling. It was designed to train those who qualified for the first phase of the project, which was a competition round, and eventually select five finalists whose short films will be funded, submitted to film festivals and eventually air on the Accelerate platform.
P.S: Just in case you are reading this, and you feel you missed out, don’t worry, there is going to be a bigger one next year, and you can compete to stand a chance.
So back to my story, it’s ironic how when Colette first discussed the project with us in the office, I was so sad that I could not be one of the beneficiaries, but I ended up being the supervising producer for the five films. At the time, I didn’t know that I was going to manage the project with the C.E.O,Make it Happen Productions, Lala Akindoju. She is an experienced casting director and producer, whose vast knowledge of the Nigerian film industry was invaluable.
Managing the Accelerate filmmaker project was a nice experience to say the least, but it was challenging too. So, on this episode of my Diary of a T.V producer, I will discuss how to manage a project for a production company, from experiences of things we did well, and some of the mistakes that almost messed things up.
1) Plan! Plan!! Plan!!! – I can never emphasize the importance of planning, because no matter how much you plan, there is about one thousand and one more things that can still go wrong. However, planning gives you a fighting chance to avoid unnecessary roadblocks. So, when producing a project like this, your paper and pen or whatever device you would rather write on, should be your best friend.
For me, writing is what works, I write down every single thing. I literally visualise the entire project on paper, from the process of choosing the participants, location of the event, the facilitators, the topics that would be treated, to the roles of my teammates, the meals that would be consumed, and the time the light comes on and goes off. Trust me, you do not want to leave anything to chance.
2) Plan B – This is always as important as your original plan, because no amount of excuse can save the day if your Plan A goes wrong. So, you need to have a backup for everything. Take a look at everything on your list, and have a fall back just in case they don’t work out. It might make your budget a bit more expensive, but trust me, it is far cheaper compared to you having to change your plans at the spur of the moment. During the training week, some of our facilitators cancelled last minute, and it would have been a disaster if we didn’t have backups. A big shout out to the experience and contact list of Lala Akindoju, we had several alternatives to choose from, and they gave us their best. This is to say that, just because you are doing Plan B, doesn’t mean you should go below accepted standard.
3) Visibility – Do not be buried in so much work that people can barely associate you with the project. It’s very easy to become so engrossed in getting things done that you are missing from all the press, pictures, videos, and networking. Trust me, you will regret this, because despite the fact that you want this project to go well, you also want people to associate you with the project, and remember that you created this great work. Remember, when this project is done, you want to be called to do something else, and the only way that will happen is if they know who you are, and what you meant to the success of this project. This is not to say that you should force your presence on the audience, because the project is really not about you, so the moral of the story is, just be there enough to let them know that you did this.
4) Content creation: Every moment of your show is a unique opportunity to create an exciting content for public entertainment, and enlightenment. Even if you are not doing it for the media, like we did, you should still record the event as a kind of reference.
5) Panic won’t solve anything – Even with the best plan, some things can still fall apart, and at times like this, panicking won’t help, because it won’t change anything. What you should do, is to think on your feet, and think of the best possible solution to your problem. Our world is imperfect, so your employer will understand the glitch, if you have tried your best in the first place, and you are smart enough to still save the day to the best of your ability.
For example, on the last day of the training week, the caterers had an accident on their way to delivering the food, so they were really late. It looks like a little problem, but when everyone in the room is hungry including your big Nollywood guests, then you are in trouble. So, instead of starting a blame game, I quickly ordered small chops for everyone, and that saved the day. At the time, I wasn’t even sure who was going to pay, but I wasn’t just going to run to my boss. I found an immediate solution, and as such instead of a query, you get a bonus for forward thinking.
6) Feedback – No matter how much control you have over the project, you must learn to give feedback to your superiors or employers, because it helps them to understand your process. Nothing will catch them unawares when you encounter a major roadblock and need their help. Also, when you give feedback, you create room for others to offer suggestions, and recommendations that would be invaluable to the success of your project.
However, never loose firm grip of the project. Do not implement feedbacks that would affect the progression of your project, and you must always find a way to communicate this to your superiors without being rude.
7) Delegate: You can’t do everything yourself. So you must train your team to be able to handle different segments of the project, and trust them enough to deliver when you need them. As the project manager, most of your work is supervisory.
8) Evaluation – No matter how great your project was, it could have been better. So you need to review it, and list out things that could have been done better for next time. You should also pick out the strong points of the project and note them, so that they can be employed next time you need to do a similar project.
Producing and managing the Accelerate filmmaker project was an experience I will definitely look forward to doing again. It was stressful, challenging, but it was an opportunity to spearhead a team that was giving back to our society’s next generation of filmmakers.