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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 


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