Yesterday I received a phone call from a friend who has a TV show on one of the major TVstations. I have been trying to get a show into one of the stations and have been looking for the ‘right contacts’ but thats been very hard to come by. I asked one friend for a contact and they asked me for royalties of either 10k a show or 3% of total budget if I needed a contact in the station. The other, who has a show already on air, mentioned that he couldn’t remember who he is talking to (really?).
In the past two years or so we've tried to push a couple of shows on air unsuccessfully, infactthe only one that ended up on TV was done for free, with the promise that if once they got advertisers they would pay us for our content.
Anyway so back to this 37 minutes phone call. My friend mentioned her frustrations of gettingher show on air and how she finally beat the system. The stations initially mentioned that before the show goes on air they had to look for sensors. WELL! fair enough. only that they didn’t ever get a sponsor. It was only until she went to seek for sponsors herself is when she got a breakthrough, however, its still pretty sad as she gets about 250k from the sponsor per episode that all goes to the station so in essence she is looking for sponsors, putting together a show and not getting paid for it.
When the station agreed to put up her show, the ‘gatekeepers’ went on to brag how lucky shewas that they actually watched her pilot as they apparently rarely watch what is brought to them for viewing. This is pretty sad. These gatekeepers are fellow creatives but yet, it seems that you have to pay up to get a service. SO, what goes into a pilot? First an idea comes to mind, then as an excited producer, go out into yonder to look for friends who would either help you shoot for free or a small fee. You round up all your boys (and girls) in the hood, and convert some into sound technicians and cameramen and the rest into the main cast and extras. This is going to go far, you tell yourself holding on to the hope and faith that you’ve always been taught about in church. After the hustles of getting your pals together and dodging Kanjo (let’s not even start talking fees here) you get into the edit suite, get an editor (if your lucky), do the graphics and package the show with tender loving care as a mother would. You prepare a pitch deck and off you go to look for contacts. You get into every Stations office where you are met with a receptionists that insists on you leaving your DVD at the reception…..which you end up doing. Then sadly no one ever gets back to you, Your boys in the hood keep harassing you when episode one will air and sadly you just lost the little money that you ever got from doing that Safaricom Ad and getting paid peanuts because apparently the casting company played you.
If you are a musician trying to break out of the nest, rumor has it that this is the same processthat you have to go through before you get your stuff on air. Its also pretty sad that you may have to pay the ‘gatekeepers’ to play your music on air. This whole while you juts want it played for free. You haven’t even started your war with the local CMO’s.
Too many a creative come over to my office to tell me about their frustrations in trying to get intothe mainstream media. But as I listen to there frustrations there is also the ‘It is Kenyan Content’ mentality that needs to be worked on. And just what is Kenyan Content? Is this an excuse to provide mediocre content?
Anyway, If these markets aren't working shouldn't we then start looking for new alternativemarkets? Shouldn’t we try to open up new markets or approach old markets in new ways? What new avenues can we find to start pushing our content?
Written by Liz Kilili