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Wednesday, 12 October 2016

GUEST BLOGGER: @stephinazwane- ''What do you do if you want to make a film in SA- but have no idea where to start?"

What do you do if you want to make a film in SA but have no idea where to start? You start.

You start writing a synopsis and breakdown, sometimes the most boring thing to do when all you want is to make a film. But having written a few short film scripts before, I knew this was very important, especially if I was planning on not writing the script myself (I ended up co-writing it).

You ask a few of your contacts to help you but they all tell you that it can't be done, especially if you want to start shooting it within three months. But I have become the girl that doesn't accept no for an answer, not without a bit of a fight and some manipulation of the system. But you see, to manipulate the system, you need to know how the system works, which I didn't.  I was just a girl with a story I wanted to tell.

So I told it, after convincing my partner in crime that we had to. It didn't take much convincing because she's also a phenomenal storyteller and she chose to stick with crazy old me for over a decade. If this didn't work, I was going to blame her for not stopping me in time, for approving the project and for being a great support structure. 

So we soldiered on, two girls with a big, impossible dream, about to go on another crazy adventure together (the first one was the launch of AzaTV). I think we have a knack for operating outside of our comfort zones, it's terrible, especially for our sleep patterns.

Our film Love and Kwaito came alive in the streets of Kliptown. We had no idea how it would change our lives. For one, it meant that we had to deplete all our company funds to make the film, which weren't a lot to begin with. Secondly, we had to maneuver social stereotypes, when a tavern owner wouldn't believe that my very pretty and vertically disadvantaged partner was the boss, he had wanted to speak to 'umlungu' before he could turn down his blaring radio so that we could continue filming, he was sorely disappointed by this. Our metamorphosis into filmmakers had come, it was filled with hard lessons but also the greatest joy. We were hearing new terms we had never heard before (and we had been in the TV industry for over 15 years). Words like 'distributor,' 'worldwide film rights' and 'dcp file.' We had to nod and pretend we knew what it all meant and then secretly ask those who were on the same journey as ours for definitions. 

We're still learning, still probing, still dreaming.  We can't wait for people to watch our labour of love, but we're also so scared that they might not like it. The few who have seen it, fall in love with the story and the characters that we helped bring to life. They laugh, cheer and shed tears as they see themselves or even their neighbours in some of the characters- but most importantly, they see and appreciate our hard work. 

So what do you do if you want to make a film in South Africa? You bring people on board who will share your vision and pursue it as fiercely as you do. They don't have to be perfect, but they need to believe in you. We had the best team in the world. The other thing you do when you want to make a film in South Africa, you apply for funding, at least that's what smart people do. It takes very long, some even give up along the way and great stories go untold, but at least it's not your personal money. Would I do it the same way all over again? Of course, yes!!!

- Twitter: @stephinazwane
- Facebook: StephinaZwane 

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Travel bug- My Canada Top 12

After 12 days spent in Canada, mostly in Toronto for the Toronto International Film Festival, I noticed and partook in some weird and wonderful things. Naturally, I joted some stuff down while on my travels and here is my TOP 12 on Canada: 

1. Niagara Falls!!!!
Wow. The beauty of the falls is awe inspiring. The sound is incredible, and even though all the locals complain about how many tourists flock to see the falls annually, naturally I didn't mind- because as I had to remind them, I myself was a tourist eager to see this piece of mastery on the Creator's part.

2. The UBER drivers
We were staying quite far away from downtown (where #TIFF was taking place), so we relied a lot on UBER to get around. Toronto's UBER drivers were all super friendly, especially when they heard that we were all the way from "Africa" as they all twanged on hearing Johannesburg in our responses to them. But boy, oh boy, are they really bad drivers. I have to issue a disclaimer here though, I confess to be a particularly bad backseat driver, so take this with a pinch of salt if you will. However, I was travelling with one of my Besties, and she concurs with this assertion, their driving left much to be desired. Thankfully they made up for this, with oodles of good natured humour and personality. 

3. Cocktail hour, was disastrous everyday!!
Shew! They drink some pretty strange cocktails these Canadians. I like to think of myself as rather experimental with my palate, simply put, I am not afraid of tasting new things...urm...not so fun when the cocktail comes back tasting like a bad version of the Floo shot. The friendly waitresses kept egging me on to try the famous 'Caesar' cocktail. So I did. Its like drinking Tomato juice, mixed with cayenne pepper, Tobascco sauce, BBQ spice, some alcohol I didn't recognise and a loooooonnnngggg squeeze of Lemon juice. Let's just say I am not in a hurry to try this again. 

It looks like this...

Besides this disaster of a cocktail, every other attempt we made to order the normal classic cocktails like the Long Island Ice Tea or even the hard to mess up, Mojito, we were left sorely disappointed, and after 12 days of experimenting at different restaurants daily, we came to the conclusion that the Canadians are clearly good at other things! 

4. The friendliness of the locals
Having travelled extensively to the US and the UK, I must say the people in Canada were a very pleasant surprise. They are genuinely very friendly. And I am not talking about the 'fake, sheepish type of friendliness' that seems forced, I mean real friendliness like we see at home. A huge part of why I like Toronto so much is definitely because of the people. I hear their winters are lethal, so maybe I should assess whether they are as friendly when they are freezing their arlies off- but for now, I give them 5 stars in this respect. 

5. Salt frugality!
Perhaps its legislated by their health department, but these people are really frugal, no actually stingy with their salt. Almost everywhere you eat, you would probably request some salt, because the food although at times, really delicious, almost always tasted salt-less. 

6. Movie-watching-heaven for film lovers!
Their cinemas are massive, and most of them spectacular as well. Besides the Scotiabank complex, the others are like old-school Opera theatres with Gallery style seating and draping. It was amazing  to have watched amazing films like, 'A United Kingdom', 'Queen of Katwe' and 'Birth of a nation' in Toronto. Truly unforgettable in fact. 

7. Road hazardary
Driving on their roads when you are used to cars coming from the other direction, is positively 'heart-attack-inducing' and it is not something me and my travel companion ever got used to. Personally I felt like it made the roads seem chaotic and disorganised, also downright dangerous. But I suppose its mostly because we are just not used to it, that it just didn't make sense to us. 

8. Breakfast pancakes!
They make some really scrumptious breakfast pancakes, second only to pancakes that I had at a Diner in Hollywood. 

9. WIFI Heaven
Toronto is WIFI heaven for people like us, who are not used to getting free WIFI everywhere we go, 24 hours a day. This is a true marvel for our social media loving generation, me included!

10. VISA Application
The VISA Application process is probably the worst one I have ever experienced. And trust me this is saying a lot, considering that the first time I ever applied for the US VISA, my application was denied. The Canadian VISA form even requests information about deceased half brothers and sisters...Lol! Considering how much I whined and whinged about the unabridged birth certificates issue that our Home Affairs introduced last 2 years, I can safely say, that I take back everything I said, and I apologise profusely. Lol!

11. Coffee loving of note
There is a huge coffee drinking culture in Canada. Yes the states have a Starbucks on every corner practically, but Toronto even takes this even further by not only having a #Starbucks around every 2nd corner, but they also have #TimHortons, #SecondCup and #AromaCoffees. I still prefer the Cappuccino at Starbucks though. In fact, we wanted, no let me rephrase, we Needed a cup every morning so badly, that Steph and I took to calling it 'crack'. Its addictive. 

12. Toronto = Pretty City, but our SA suburbs are still much prettier
I always say travelling will either make you love your country more, or really despise it, and let me just state for the record that in terms of the beauty and general aesthetic of the place, there is nothing there that is in my opinion better than here at home, so pat yourself on the back- SA still Rocks!

- All in all, #Toronto was a great city to visit. I'd do it all again in a heartbeat! And people keep asking me if I would relocate to Canada, and to answer that, there isn't much to think about in that respect, because I would. It would be an easy adjustment after life in SA. 

Til we voyage again- Adios!

Monday, 3 October 2016

GUEST BLOGGER: @Lee_Lurv on "Being a single, young Mom in Joburg"

Carrying a child at 20 years of age was both exciting and confusingly stressful. I didn’t really have full knowledge of what may arise and I fed off the fact that this child was blessing from God, yet it was confusingly stressful, because my life was changing drastically.

The excitement for me was motivated by both the arrival of my new bundle of joy and the love and support I received from the father of my child. I couldn't wait to meet her, love her and just be the best mother I could be. 

This time was not without its challenges though, I felt like I was disappointing my mother. She was a Single mother of six, financially strained, and had high hopes for me. Also my body was changing drastically daily, I gained weight and friends were getting fewer and fewer by the day. It was hard to juggle between the unfortunate bump, school and work. I was missing my life before the bump, modeling, going out and just being able to sleep on my tummy lol. However I made it through and my baby was born in November of 2007.

Unfortunately her father and I broke up in January 2008, irreconcilable differences. He is now happily married and living with his wife in Johannesburg.

I had to leave my baby in Kimberley with my mother and return to Johannesburg to pursue a career in order to care for my child. Thankfully though, her father was always active in her life and is still very supportive and maintaining his child well, in fact he does even more than I envisaged or even expected of him; he really adores her.

The challenges of being a Single Young Mother in Johannesburg vary woman to woman, mine really stemmed from having to live far away from my child, and she was 600km away, very young and yearning for motherly-love. I'm forever grateful to my mother for having being there and loving my child like her own. But back in Joburg I was struggling, unemployed and staying with friends.

Eventually God answered and blessed me with a great job. I was now able to properly look after my child and visit her as often as possible. Her father and me developed a civil relationship for the sake of the child and we now get along well.

Things did however became difficult when he lost his job in 2010 and I had to foot the bill for our child alone and still maintain myself, while at the same time still juggling work.
It's during this time that I decided to live with my daughter, enrolled her into a creche close to where I stayed, so I could drive her to school daily without a hassle.

Mornings were a mess for a good three months because I was not used to caring for a child and myself, it had always just been me. I made to-do-lists on the daily, struggling to juggle between home, her and work. Most times I would forget to even take care of myself. So I'd wake up at 05:00, take a bath and get myself ready, wake her up at 06:00 and get her ready, then pack her bag and make us breakfast. Drive to school and then to work, optimize my time at work, sometimes I'd have to work late and ask the creche to drop her off with the special transport, then ask my roommate to please feed and bath her while I was still slaving away.

And I knew something had to give at some point, so I sent Mosa (my daughter) back home again in 2010 and she has been staying with Mama ever since. What I learnt from my experience was not to rush into love and life, or you may find yourself in a compromising situation that could be really difficult to navigate. In love and life there are endless uncertainties, one will never really know what's coming ahead - trust God and remain Faithful to His will and word. Parenting is hard but much more difficult for a young single mother in Johannesburg, due to financial demands and other pressures.

My daughter Mosa`s recollection of this time will be different from mine. For her it was memorable spending time with mommy more than anything, simple things like mommy bathing her, sitting and eating together, chatting and her telling mommy all her stories was a marvel to watch and she always had a spark in her eyes.

My daughter is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, she motivates and drives me to be greater than what I believe I could be, she is that extra step when I can't carry on. I have an awesome job now; thankfully it pays well and isn't demanding of my time. In 2017 January, Mosa will be staying with her mommy, and will have her own room, mommy will be able to drop her off at school without a hassle, she will attend extra murals and mommy will be able to pick her up diligently after school and we will spend great times at home together. She will also spend two weeks of the month with her dad, which gives mommy a little more time to do what she needs to do. Co-parenting has certainly made life much easier for a single young mother,  like me.


Twitter: @Lee_Lurv

Facebook: Lerato Mothibi