Thursday, August 25, 2011

The abomination that is the South African film industry.

When I began this movie experience in 2009 I was told that it wasn't my job to contribute to the South African film industry. I know many people have this at any cost mentality, but flu induced insomnia forced me to watch a South African movie - about South Africa and filmed in South Africa - that wasn't altogether bad but not what I would have liked to have called my own.

Actors and Actresses

Talented South African actors and actresses are out there. But as I watched Natalie Bekker and some unknown Indian man do what I can only assume was a warm up for the Robot I asked, is this what passes for acting? It seemed so mechanical and unnatural. Like all we could be pleased with was that they'd learned their lines. I don't, God-willing, want to make movies that will one day be seen as OK for South African movies. If movies about Britain, and the USA and wherever can find universal appeal driven by excellent storylines I don't see we can't do it here. Its like we still suffer from that Apartheid sickness, fawning over everything foreign as if your origin is meaningless. Anyone remember how Frank "Talentless" Stallone was such a big hit in SA in the 80's? We have this sense of if it comes from beyond our borders, it has to be better. And we blame the audiences, South African movie goers don't go to South African movies unless its Leon Schuster. I also remember a time when no one would proudly listen to South African music. Well except for the legend that is Barney Simon.

In high school I took to stage directing and received a Best Director. It did plant a seed which I quickly uprooted. How would I be able to sustain a future family as a South African film maker? There was no stability, where would I study? There were no degrees associated with it, I had no choice but to become a lawyer.

We all know how that worked out.

Anyway, my point is that we seemed to be starved of actual local talent, but I don't think that is the case. I think we undervalue our own commodity. Its like the mentality of people who distinguish quality by price tag. Label/Brand whores. But it takes effort to build up a brand, make it valuable and something to be proud of.
I'm sure the likes of Natalie Bekker are talented in their own right, but the pseudo British accents and the laboured expressions as they act like acting doesn't actually inspire confidence. Maybe there is the hope that being pretty people will overlook other aspects.

I want to make my movie with as authentic a South African cast, I want the story to resonate and I want South Africans to leave the film and talk about it. I want to be inside the heads of my film goers and I want it to be a reflection of where I come from. But its not going to be the private sector that drives this. What we need is for our Government to have more faith in the industry and consider how many jobs this could create. How South Africa can become more than a location destination for overseas producers on a budget or post production facility for people wanting quality without needing to pay for it.

Hollywood churns out crap. More crap than we handle sometimes, but its that sense of willingness to create something magical that put it where it is. Australia faced the same thing not too long ago. Their government made it a target to ensure that Australia not only created films with international marketability, but whose actors and actresses are seen as world class.

I mean how many millions are poured into South African sports teams who can't sell out a 25 000 seater stadium and couldn't win a match if their lives depended on it.

Those are my thoughts. Feel free to share your own.

The Organ Harvester

BTW: Anyone with $8 million?

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