This October marks 10 years of LBx Africa, and we can't even begin to describe our gratitude for achieving this milestone!
As we reflect on the past 10 years, we couldn't think of a better way to celebrate this anniversary than to share some insights we've picked up along the way.
So, in no particular order, here are snippets of the things we wish we had known when we were starting;
Not all money is suitable for your project.
Resources for projects have always been limited, and much remains the same. Finding something in a scarce market is daunting. When we started, it wasn't clear how to go about fundraising, where to meet potential funders and investors, and how to package ourselves and our projects. We said yes to many offers that didn't always work out in the best interest of our filmmakers and projects. It sounds crazy, but it's okay to say "no thank you" sometimes.
When they say no, ask again
We've been rejected more often than we've been accepted. Even when told not to apply or pitch again, if you are convinced that your project has significantly developed, go ahead and do it. Learn from the feedback, and don't stop until you get it right. Don't self-reject; there are plenty of people out there who will do it for you.
Finding resources to finance every good story idea remains challenging, and rather than waiting for your turn to come around, get creative. Your product will speak volumes for you. You don't have control over what is available, but you do have control over how you manage what you have.
You get further, faster, together.
It's vital to align visions, values, and journeys. What is the journey of the organization vis a vis the journey of the people working in the organization? In an industry that props up the individual over the team, check in with each other and ensure you are all still heading in the same direction.
Be the hardest worker in the room.
No one will work as hard on your project as you. Once you accept this, you'll learn to appreciate everyone's contribution, as little as it may seem.
Plan for African Distribution
One thing we didn't know when starting out was that most film distributors have a plan for the rest of the world but don't really have a plan for Africa. It's been quite the journey of learning to navigate the distribution space and proactively making our own plans. This is still a path we are on.
Good things take time, so multitask
While some projects have taken a few months, some have taken years to conclude. You can't just work on one project at a time, or the gaps between your projects will be too large. Consistently create and have multiple projects at multiple stages.
Film-making can sometimes be isolating, but finding a community to share your challenges and success makes the journey worth it. The crews we work with, organizations, friends, and partners have held us down and made the journey easier and a lot more fun.
When we started, it was important for us to make films that had an actual impact, but there wasn't much support. Now, there is a lot more support and engagement around films and impact, so filmmakers can have impact in mind from the get-go. However, not all films need an impact plan, and that's okay too.
This is massive. Respecting the work and the people is an important lesson. Starting out, many potential collaborators take advantage of your ignorance as a newbie in the industry, so we've learnt to find collaborators that engage with us from a point of mutual respect.
We are excited to keep growing the LBx Africa community over the next decade.