Future looks Marvellous for Bulawayo’s star film graduate

Marvellous Matswimbo was one of 19 students who entered the academy in January, and has just graduated with flying colours.

When Marvellous Matswimbo was a little girl, there was one burning question she longed to know the answer to — how did people make themselves small enough to get inside the TV screen?

Twenty-odd years later she finally knows the answer, but not from reading about this or even watching a video online explaining it. Rather, from time spent on the set of three of Southern Africa’s biggest TV productions. Not only does Marvellous now know how the people got into the TV, but also exactly how to organise those people — and the rest of their cast and crew — to make that magic happen.

She learnt all this during the past 11 months as a student of the Southern Africa MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) Academy.

MTF — a product of the MultiChoice Africa to foster Africa’s growing creative industries into vibrant, economic hubs — is a shared-value initiative that provides a platform for the creative industries to develop their talent and engage with one another through their shared passions.

MultiChoice is Africa’s leading entertainment platform, which offers a wide range of products and services, including DStv, GOtv, Showmax, M-Net, SuperSport, Irdeto and KingMakers.

Marvellous was one of 19 students who entered the academy in January, and has just graduated with flying colours. She was one of only three students to receive an award for outstanding work this year, which in this case is a two-week production internship on three professional film sets in South Africa.

Although she has just spent the past four years studying journalism and media studies at the National University of Science and Technology, Marvellous had no formal training in film. But her enthusiasm for TV and film clearly shone through during her interview and landed her a spot at the academy.

“I think the MTF team saw my passion for wanting to learn more. I really had no idea of the scope of filmmaking when I applied, I just knew that I loved films and wanted to know more. Once I heard I had got in, I was a little scared,” Marvellous said.

“I was going to be meeting people from so many different countries, and I was worried I might not fit in because everyone else would know more than me. But I was so excited to see what the programme was going to teach me, so I just went along with that and it all worked out perfectly.”

The academy’s training programme is very intensive, as it aims to upskill and develop the next generation of African storytellers. Students learn both theoretical and practical concepts in a hands-on environment with renowned industry experts from across Africa and abroad.

Part of this training includes spending time on the sets of several industry-leading MultiChoice productions, such as Zuba, Mpali and 10 Tamanga Street. These immersions demonstrate to the students both the skills they need to perform various roles on a professional film set as well as the emotional aptitude they need to cut it in this industry.

“The immersions were definitely the highlight of the year for me. That was the first time I was on a professional set and I got to see exactly how things are done. I was blown away by how much people were willing to teach us while there. We had been learning the theoretical side of filmmaking, but being on set brought that to life. You get to see how professional people do what they do, every day. You also get to see how busy it can get on a set … and how stressful.”

Surprisingly, she thrived on the stress, and found that this made her perfect for the role of assistant director.

On a film set, the assistant director is responsible for arranging all logistics, preparing the daily call sheets, and ensuring the cast and crew fulfil their respective roles. The assistant director also ensures that filming stays on track with the production schedule.

She said although she didn’t realise it before, her MTF experience revealed the perfect skills within her to tackle this demanding role.

Based on her exceptional achievements at MTF, the determined 24-year-old has already been offered a position to work on a local talk show in January ahead of her visit to South Africa for her production internship.

Zimbabwe has a bright new star on its film horizon, and it’s only a matter of time before we see Marvellous’ own name “inside the TV screen”, echoing a childhood inspiration that started an incredible journey.

The MTF Southern Africa academy class graduated on November 17, 2023, after a 12-month intensive programme inclusive of practical and in-class theoretical curriculum accredited by the University of Zambia.

The graduation celebrated the talent and hard work of 19 students across seven countries in the southern region, who have put in many hours of honing their skills and expanding their knowledge and networks in the industry.

There were two students from Zimbabwe, including Marvellous Matswimbo. So far eight Zimbabwean students have been trained at the MTF in Lusaka, Zambia. — Staff Writer.

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