Monday, July 26, 2010

Burundi Mondays

For the next few weeks, every Monday's post will be dedicated to following the African exploits of Acart Videographer Christopher Redmond as he teaches film and advertising in Burundi.

Christopher is a co-founder of the Burundi Film Center, a non-profit media development project that "helps Burundian citizens to learn essential 21st century mass communication skills from international filmmakers and documentarians, while engaging those same media experts in African issues".

Christopher arrived in Africa last week, and immediately set about sharing what he has learned working at our ad agency for almost 3 years.

From his blog:

Today was the final day of the Rwanda Film Festival and I was asked to teach a TV advertising workshop to about a dozen students. As I explained to them, even directors in Hollywood work on commercials between projects to help them make a living. The fact Rwanda only has one national television station was beside the point. The tips I gave could all translate into making good short films – keeping the message simple, telling the story visually and making sure every shot says something.

I walked them through the entire process of creating commercials using samples from my work at Acart Communications in Ottawa. So I broke down what makes up an advertising agency in North America (creatives and client services), then showed them the steps and format to write for TV, create animated storyboards and finally the finished product. The fact I used mainly Government of Canada commercials as samples, like our Elder Abuse and 72 Hours “Get Prepared” campaigns, also made them laugh. “Wow, your government cares so much about your people,” one student told me. “It is very different here.”

Overall, I tried to keep things basic and relevant, giving them ideas for how to break into an industry that otherwise seems exclusive and, well, alien. I explained that creating spec TV spots (fake commercials) or exciting “pitch” videos for clients is a good way to start. See there’s often a “catch 22” for working in film and TV –you need to have already done it in order to do it. But everyone has to start somewhere. And knowing how to take that first step yourself can end up being a giant leap in your career.

Best of luck to Christopher and his students, from all of us here at Acart. You see? Doing work that matters is more than a slogan to us. It's a way of life.

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