How my Film and TV Degree took me to Zambia to teach Film

Film and TV Alumni, Claudia, David and Brad, travelled over to Zambia to use their skills and experience in filmmaking to teach their craft and raise the quality of the locals' film productions.


We caught up with Claudia and chatted about her experience on the Zambia Film Project and how it was established.

Tell us a bit about the ‘Zambia Film Project’ and how it was established.

The Zambian Film Project (TZFP) is an initiative to start a film movement of African stories told by African filmmakers. It was established a year ago, but has been a pipe dream of almost 10 years. I may not have known exactly what I wanted to do in Africa but it's been the most interesting development over the years to arrive at this point to understand this is how I will do my part in helping the continent of Africa alleviate their socio-economic concerns. 6 months ago, I visited Zambia by myself for 2 weeks with a whole lot of ambition to meet the film industry, connected with the policy makers and arts educators in Zambia. To be honest, the first week was really just kicking back, eating really good food and observing how classrooms ran. It was only in the second week that news spread that there was an Australian girl in town who wanted to talk about teaching film. I was very fortunate to have left Zambia with a criteria and a set of objectives that the Government, Policy Makers, and Educators had in mind. Three pillars were established; stronger collaboration via crew specialization, technical skills across all areas, higher educational pathways within VET and University pathways.

Why do you think this project is important?

The project brings to Zambia best practices and protocol in filmmaking. Most filmmakers are self-taught - very similar to how Nollywood was established. This is both a good and bad thing. They are much better than us Aussies when it comes to consistently making new content but we are now hoping to raise the quality and standard of their productions by teaching them how to better execute, technically and creatively. My hopes are that if we can train a small percentage of filmmakers the right protocols, they will not go down the path of a studio system and skip straight to localized storytelling for their communities.

What were some of the highlights of your recent trip?

So much happened in the short time we were there. Dave, Brad and I appeared on national TV and somehow I ended up being interviewed on the biggest talk show on primetime. Rest assured, I told the audience that kangaroo is good, lean eating protein. Another highlight was going on Safari with the team, we had an amazing experience walking with a family of elephants. I think the biggest highlight was walking out at the end of graduation night and seeing all 20 students standing in a circle and de-briefing themselves after 4 grueling days. I stood quietly in the background and got to hear first hand what they thought. It was great to hear phrases coming out of their mouths about collaboration, specialization and the deep sense of responsibility they felt they had as storytellers to tell their own African stories. I was really impacted by that moment. 

What is the ultimate goal for this project moving forward?

Huge question, ambitious answer! Living in the developed world, we as filmmakers take for granted our ability to tell whatever story we want. We have the ability to reflect and project what we believe is true. We have mentors, equipment, resources, and each other to make these things happen. Ultimately, we get to say to society, THIS is what you look like, and with cause and effect we can create change. I've always seen Africa as this huge diamond in the rough. I can't explain why I'm called to this continent, but I can say that the soul of Africa is slowly diminishing and with that extinguishes the last of its nationhood and personhood. I believe if a movement of storytellers can emerge in Africa, nationhood will be created - maybe not restored but redefined. If this can be done, Africa may realize it's own potential without the fares of the western world. I think we've (the developed world) have written enough narratives of Africa. It's time we hear what they believe is true about themselves. 

Check out the Zambia Film Project website or Facebook!

To learn more about studying film and television production, click here.