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‘Misinformation can be deadly’

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‘Misinformation can be deadly’

— Kamva Namba (South Africa)
Franck Kuwonu
From Africa Renewal: 
4 March 2021
The crew at work behind the camera capturing the scene
On set behind the camera capturing the scene.

Kamva Namba, a young South African with a B.A degree in Motion Pictures, is a versatile aspiring filmmaker, passionate about creating inclusive content that breaks with the status quo. He is one of the young filmmakers who deployed their talents to fight against COVID-19 misinformation through the Multichoice Talent Factory (South Africa). This film academy was set up by MultiChoice Group that is collaborating with the UN’s Verified initiative to help people gain access to fact-based and credible information and stem the flow of fake news. He spoke to Africa Renewal’s Franck Kuwonu about his journey to filmmaking and why it was important for him to join the ‘Pause Before Sharing’ #PledgetoPause campaign: Excerpts:

Kamva Namba
Kamva Namba

Africa Renewal: How did you get involved in making a film for the Pause campaign?

Kamva Namba: The director of the Academy Bobby Heaney and our line manager Mphile Shabalala asked us to pitch and shoot a COVID-19 Public Service Announcement (PSA) for the UN. My PSA was inspired by observing how some of the youth around here were dealing with the pandemic. Whilst the government stressed the importance of wearing masks and social distancing, many of these young people were going about their daily lives as usual, thinking that youth were not vulnerable to COVID-19.

From your film, one would think that you oppose young people’s laissez-faire approach to reality. Is it?

The PSA I produced follows two parallel worlds that run simultaneously.  The character in World 1 “spreads” misinformation about COVID-19, while the character in World 2 “pauses” and examines the facts and then deletes the fake news instead of impulsive sharing.

Was it important for you to write the story that way?

COVID-19 misinformation on social media platforms spreads faster than the actual virus, so the decision to write the PSA in this manner was to show how sharing misinformation can lead to bad choices, and especially on how people can protect themselves from the virus, that can be deadly.

Behind the camera

Was it difficult to find people to take part in your PSA? Were they paid, or did they agree that it was for a good cause?

Finding people to take part in the PSA was not difficult. The lead character and some of the extras in the PSA are interns from the Academy. While some of the crew and cast worked pro bono, others were paid.

We shot the PSA around the city of Johannesburg in a taxi, then at a college and at an Airbnb. During the pre-production, we visited various locations to determine their suitability for the shoot. The setting was important to the narrative of the story as it was directed at South African youth.

 What challenges did you encounter while filming?

The challenge in production was blocking the scenes to make it look like there were a lot more people in the shot. We also encountered challenges in post-production, with the timing of the pop of text graphics, and music selection. However, I didn’t find it difficult to convey the message solely through action rather than dialogue or speech, because the actors portrayed their roles well and the graphics drove the narrative forward.

Do you think the message will have any impact on young people in your community?

I hope that the PSA will make them aware of the seriousness of COVID-19 and raise awareness about how sharing information without fact-checking can result in people breaking COVID-19 regulations thus increasing the number of transmissions or infections.

Besides the overall message about COVID-19, was there any other message you were putting across?

Yes. I hope the audience, even post-COVID-19, learns to pause and fact-check any information they get before sharing it. Do not share misinformation.