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Launching West Africa Office, Dorst MediaWorks Welcomes Producer Teddy Attila

Dorst MediaWorks just opened an office in West Africa! Cotonou, Benin-based Teddy Attila is leading it.

This is part of a longer-term effort to offer local, cost-effective services to our international development, humanitarian, and private-sector clients, including USAID, the World Bank Group, and dozens of nonprofits.

It’s also a response to changing demand. Traditionally, our clients commissioned us for expensive films about once per year.

But these days, they want regular social-media content – and lots of it. With teams on the ground in the region, Dorst MediaWorks can do both in a more cost-effective manner.


Teaming Up …

Producer Teddy Attila is based in Cotonou, Benin.

It started with a new friendship. I went to Benin last year for a two-week shoot with the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). It was distinctive in that my counterpart, Teddy Attila was such a rock star. I was immediately impressed by his charisma and ability to connect with everybody – the Government Ministers we interviewed, the villagers we followed cinema verité, the strangers we encountered along the streets.

But even more than that, I saw first-hand that Teddy is dedicated to his craft. Since 2017, he has led video production, photography, and storytelling for a major international development program – the $391 million MCC Compact for reform and modernization of Benin’s power sector.

He has regularly traveled the country documenting progress on the 7-year initiative, taking photos, capturing video, and flying his drone. Then he scripted and edited back in the MCA office in Cotonou.

When I arrived in country in October 2022, we fit together seamlessly, a dynamic duo that captured great stories and had a helluva lot of fun along the way.

I learned that Teddy speaks four languages. He is fluent in English, French, Fon, and Mina. In addition to his international development experience, Teddy wrote, produced and directed award-winning independent films: Freedom (2011), The Cupboard (2012), From 7 to 8 (2013), La Route des Pêches (2014), Kindred Souls (2015), and Me I Know All (2019) in collaboration with Canal+.

As MCC’s successful Benin Compact was winding down as planned in mid-2023, Teddy was looking to transition to new opportunities. For me, the prospect of having a local team ready at a moment’s notice, headed by Atilla, is a game-changer for our client’s storytelling needs.

For example, in the region during the last few years, we’ve produced for the World Wildlife Fund, International Monetary Fund, and USAID, just to name a few. Having a local team would have opened up many more cost-conscious possibilities for follow-up storytelling, for more impact and results.



“Megapolis”: West Africa’s Crazy Growth Rate

Dorst MediaWorks’ expansion doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Yes, I’m endlessly curious about Africa, and enjoy learning and working there. But there is another element. The 600-mile coastal stretch from Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire to Lagos, Nigeria, which also includes Ghana, Togo, and Benin, is the world’s most rapidly urbanizing region, an emerging “megalopolis.”

It currently has a population approaching 40 million people. By 2100, demographers foresee a continuous city of half a billion people along the same stretch. As one scholar said in this article in The Guardian, “If it can develop efficiently, the region will become more than the sum of its parts – and the parts themselves are quite big. But if it develops badly, a tremendous amount of economic potential will be lost, and in the worst of cases, all hell could break loose.”

Teddy Attila and Steve Dorst on location in Cotonou, Benin in October 2022

Now, and in the future, Dorst MediaWorks wants to be contributing to solutions. Teddy Attila takes us one giant step in that direction, where we can be an expert creative resource for development, humanitarian, and private-sector clients.


Reflecting …

This is a long time coming. When I lived in Cameroon after college on a scholarship, I never could’ve imagined that I would go on to film in 12 countries across the continent, in Benin, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

This Vimeo collection “Dorst MediaWorks in Africa” contains 20+ videos that I directed and shot in Africa.

As I look back, so many of my blog posts during the past decade show an enthusiasm and embrace of diverse African cultures, its people, and progress. Here are a few, 2022: “Making a Film in Benin? 19 Things You Need to Know”); 2019: Videos in Africa for Organizations Based in Washington DC; 2019: It’s a Wrap! International Nonprofit Health Video in Africa; 2016: Flying the Phantom 4 in Senegal: 9 Reflections from the Trip; 2014: St. George Slays the Injera (Ethiopia); 2013: Directing in Kenya, Distributing in Tokyo.

I’m excited for what the future will bring.

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