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Top Ten Movies with... Pippa Tshabalala


Pippa Tshabalala is a tattooed, video gamer geek goddess. Her affinity for video games began at the age of 10. She really started kicking ass and taking names, after she obtained a Masters degree in Fine Arts with a specialisation in Digital Animation at the University of Witwatersrand, where she taught primarily as Digital Animation lecturer between 2006-2009.

It was during this time that she began presenting video game content on PlayR and The Verge, South Africa's first locally produced video game show, which aired on DSTV between 2008-2012.

Nowadays Pippa writes for NAG, South Africa's premier gaming magazine, tech magazine, Techsmart, as well as gaming and tech website, Gearburn. She's currently the On-Air producer for a major broadcaster as well as the Editor of Spliced Magazine, an online pop culture and lifestyle magazine.

In 2013, she was named as one of Mail & Guardian's 200 Young South Africans, which is quite an achievement considering she's tried to avoid getting a "real job" most of her career.

Despite this, she's had an eclectic career with roles as a lecturer, presenter, writer, producer, editor and voice-over artist. We managed to sneak a moment in her busy schedule to get her Top Ten Movies...

"I grew up on Monty Python..."

I can't watch movies without...

- A drink. Not alcoholic necessarily as I'm not a big drinker in general. I’m more partial to soft drinks or juice in this case but I have to have one close at hand, especially if I’m at the movies and not just watching on my couch. Popcorn is a nice-to-have, but a drink is a necessity! I'd much rather be hungry than thirsty.

Which famous people share your birthday?

- My birthday is May 12th. I think the most awesome one is Florence Nightingale, but I also share it with Tony Hawk, Emilio Estevez and Jason Biggs.

What is the first film you remember watching?

- I still have very vivid memories of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, the former of which I now own on Blu-ray, but I have a distinct memory of watching The Fox and the Hound at a screening in a community centre when I was about four or five.

What's the worst movie you've ever seen?

- A terrible B-Grade... possibly even C or D Grade horror movie called Hanger. It's about a guy whose mother tried to abort him with a coat hanger and he becomes a serial killer. I didn’t manage to get through the entire thing, although my husband did out of morbid curiosity and still reckons he hasn't seen anything else that is quite that bad.

Which movies have made you tearful?

- Oh I cry all the time in movies, so I couldn't narrow it down to one. Now that I'm a parent I tend to cry more easily in movies where parents lose their children as I can't imagine anything worse than something happening to my kids. My husband laughs at me though, I cry at the drop of a hat.

Who is the most famous movie star you've ever met?

- I've met a couple of local people whose work I really like, such as Thapelo Mokoena and Atandwa Kani, but the most famous person I (almost) met was Neil Gaiman. Not exactly a movie star but he's had a lot of books adapted for film so I'm just going to count that as the same thing! I was in Melbourne visiting my family and I was attending a play by some friends called The Terminativity... it's the Nativity but with the Terminator, it was awesome. As I was waiting for them to come out so we could go have a drink in the bar, I realised Neil Gaiman was standing next to me and I had a mini internal meltdown – I absolutely love him!

I'm not the kind of person who gets starstruck at all but I was so excited and nervous but too scared to go over and say hi. He was also chatting to a couple of my friends because he'd come to see their play, but what was I going to say? “I've read everything you've ever written and I'm a huge fan?” Not stalkerish AT ALL! So eventually I leave and while I'm walking back to the train with my husband, I tweeted something about the fact that I was standing next to him and was too scared to go say hello, and of course I tagged him in it, because now I'm feeling braver, and he responded! What's worse is that he said “Oh you were the girl with the tattoos, you should have come and said hello!”

What's your favourite movie line?

- I’m a big Nightmare Before Christmas fan. I introduced my eldest son to it, and now he shares the obsession, so it’s something we watch regularly in our household and I never get tired of it.

Watching him say “I’m Jack! The Pumpkin King!” with all the inflections, the actions and facial expressions means that this is probably my favourite movie line ever.

Who would you choose to play you in your biopic?

- Haha, I often get told I look like Angelina Jolie, so I suppose that would be the obvious choice, but I really like Scarlett Johansson, so out of personal preference I would probably say her.

If you could produce a movie, what would it be about?

- Gaming, what else? Ok that's probably not the only thing it would be about, but I don't think there are enough movies about video gaming that fall into the mainstream media so that's something I'd like to do.

Finally, your top ten movies of all-time...

- The Nightmare Before Christmas ...of course. I mentioned it already but it remains one of, if not my favourite, movie of all-time. The music, the characters, everything about it is just awesome.

- Guardians of the Galaxy ...so quirky and I love superhero movies in general. I also read a lot of comic books, so I'm always interested to see how they translate into a movie – this is one of the more successful ones.

- Her ...I think this is such a poignant and relevant movie in our current era – people having more intimate relationships with their computers and AI than with actual people. It's sad and amazing and wonderful.

- Pitch Perfect ...yes it's super cheesy and of course predictable but I love it. It's such a feel good movie that you can't help but sing along.

- Beauty & The Beast ...the Disney version. Yeah I know this is also kind of a cheesy one, but I remember watching this as a kid and loving it. I knew all the songs and so many years later when I watch it with my son, I still remember all the words. He's quite keen on it as well, so it helps when I have to watch it over and over again... as you do with 3-year-olds!

- Monty Python's Life of Brian ...I grew up on Monty Python so I love pretty much anything associated with them. I would have said The Meaning of Life, but I figured this was a more traditional movie format, plus I now have Always Look on the Bright Side of Life stuck in my head.

- Wolf Children ...I can't even remember where I saw this movie – I think someone lent it to me, but it's absolutely beautiful. I've always been a fan of anime, although I watch less of it than I used to, and this was the first one I've seen in ages that really stimulated my interest again. It's about a woman that falls in love with a werewolf and has two half werewolf children. Soon after the birth of the second child the father dies and she has to struggle to raise them by herself.

- Spirited Away ... I always struggle to decide which of Hayao Miyazaki's films I love more, and I think this one comes out on top by a very slight margin. It narrowly beats Princess Mononoke and Howl's Moving Castle.

- Black Swan ...I remember seeing this when I was almost full term with my eldest son and being incredibly uncomfortable watching it at the cinema, but loving it all the same! It's disturbing and beautiful at the same time.

- Life of Pi ...although it was a bit controversial in the special effects industry because Rhythm and Hues went under shortly after the film won an Oscar, it is nevertheless one of the most gorgeous films I have ever seen. I actually didn't want to see it, and a friend of mine who worked with National Geographic got us complimentary tickets to see it in 3D. I was absolutely blown away.

Top Ten Movies with... is a people series on SPL!NG, featuring a host of celebrities ranging from up-and-coming to established personalities from all industries including, but not limited to: Internet, Radio, TV, Film, Music, Art and Entrepreneurs. It's a chance to discover who they are, find out where they're at and to get a fun inside look at their taste in movies.

Photography: Tim Hulme, Spliced Magazine