South African author and entrepreneur, GG Alcock, will present an unusual Masterclass at this year’s edition of Durban FilmMart, which takes place from June 17 to 20 during the Durban International Film Festival. Under the banner of “Authenticity is Key – Building Credibility with Audiences”, Alcock will talk about the vital necessity of engaging with an audience on their own terms through an authentic understanding of local narratives.
The author of Third World Child and Kasinomics (which explores the economics of South Africa’s townships, or ‘lokasies’), Alcock is uniquely placed to talk about accessing local audiences. Having grown up in Zulu culture, he is keenly aware how easy it is for external narratives to be imposed unsuccessfully on indigenous cultures.
Alcock has been a shebeen owner, a political activist, a community worker, and an African adventurer, and runs a successful communications company ‐ Minanawe Marketing. Born in Zululand and raised in the heart of rural Msinga area of Kwazulu‐Natal in the local Zulu community Alcock is fluent in isiZulu and still has a deep physical and spiritual connection with his home village where his mother still lives.
As the founder of Minanawe Marketing, he has built an impressive reputation as a creative and strategist – his upbringing having given him the ability to unearth unique insights and apply these to marketing solutions in the African context. Given how important it is to establish an authentic narrative and convincing context when delivering a message, Alcock says that “these lessons can have just as much relevance for filmmakers looking to engage local audiences as for those wishing to sell products.”
“I think it’s important to note up front that I am not a filmmaker. What I am able to share, however, is an understanding of audiences, particularly in the mass market, townships and rural areas.” His business specialises in developing themes, concepts and marketing campaigns that have a strong connection with the cultures and identities of these audiences. At the DFM he will be discussing some simple – but often ignored –rules, which he applies when communicating with audiences, and illustrating them with case studies. While these case studies are located in marketing rather than in filmmaking, the value of his research extends to anyone who is trying to tell African stories. “I think the fact that marketers are oᢠen able to access audiences successfully indicates the importance of these lessons,” says Alcock.
Alcock plans to use some of the cultural and business case studies from Kasinomics to explore concepts that are seldom discussed outside of predominately verbal cultures. Core lessons and themes that filmmakers will be able to take away include an understanding of the role of culture and how audiences tend to “modernise rather than westernise”, the ways in which visual and verbal language can be misinterpreted, and the importance of the spiritual and intangible in touching the emotions of an audience. Alcock will also explore the power and significance of social networks and viral communication in a non‐online world.
Ahead of DFM, Alcock together with Feyi Olubodun, COO of Insight Nigeria have been invited to Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to present a session entitled “The African Consumer, Let My Enemy Live Long” on June 18.
This unique addition to DFM’s packed roster, which will be presented on June 20, is sure to be both entertaining and eye‐opening, and will no doubt inspire new ways of thinking about local audiences.
To register for DFM and to find out more about the delegate registration process, visit the official website at http://www.durbanfilmmart.com.