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Talkin' About a Guerilla Film Revolution

South Africa is regarded as top film-making destination. A diverse people, a beautiful country, a beneficial exchange rate and some of the best crew, it's easy to see why many filmmakers are opting to take their productions to South Africa. The country has attracted many international TV and film projects, but it's still calibrating its local content. While more than competent, the local film industry hasn't turned into the runaway success you'd imagine given the outlook.

Guerilla Film Revolution

The calibre of films from our shores has shown a marked improvement and steady maturity, yet it just seems that there's been a bit of a slump in terms of the number of productions. Last year was one of the country's best years for film with at least five films that could easily travel. Perhaps one can attribute the slowing down to the global recession, which has made it that much tougher to get funding for films in an already difficult market.

While the budget isn't there, the talent is brimming. It's never been easier to put a film together thanks to the advances of digital technology. With several feature films already having been shot on a mobile phone, including Steven Soderbergh's Unsane, the question is quickly becoming why aren't more doing it? In a country where we have the locations, crew and talent, it seems strange that more cooperative ventures aren't happening.

Filmmakers need to stay current, keep their credits relevant and be constantly showcasing their talent in order to attract more business. A team enterprise, it seems strange that these low budget productions aren't happening more sporadically. The art of guerrilla film-making can translate into financial success, just look at Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity. Armed with directional microphones and high-end smart phones, we should be compelling our youth to go out there and make stuff - much like the training offered at Big Fish.

A Four-Step Tweet from Spling (@MovieCriticSA)

Want a ZA film revolution?

1. Partner with Vodacom, MTN or Cell C

2. Empower filmmakers with training e.g. Big Fish School

3. Equip them with an iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy 6 or LG G4 and directional Rode mics

4. Give them the burning desire to tell their stories!


Instilling a sense of entrepreneurship, there should be courses focused on equipping ambitious young filmmakers with the necessary know-how and tools in order to make a success of this path. Great characters and good stories overcome low budgets, which is why a low budget feel shouldn't deter filmmakers from bringing their stories to life. A great example of a high quality local feature film shot on a shoestring budget is the Clerks-inspired black-and-white comedy drama, Casting Me...

Perhaps a shift of mindset is what's necessary, giving youth a sense of empowerment rather than entitlement. Going out there and doing it for yourself should be the mantra rather than sitting around and waiting for things to happen. Doing something for nothing in order to reap rewards down the line should also be fully realised. Finally, the power of cooperation is yet another cornerstone of a successful individual, realising the importance of teamwork.

While the entire process can be very daunting, challenging and troublesome, new platforms are being created every day which serve the independent filmmaker from valuable screenwriting services to hiring cast and crew. Creating brilliant content is half the job, getting people to watch your film is the other half and this is where concepts like Filmnation light the way. We should be having these conversations with young filmmakers, inspiring them to be more proactive in their approach, more inquisitive in finding the answers and creating a market for this kind of content. Showmax have added some of AFDA's student short films to their bouquet and perhaps streaming services could be the answer to high quality short films or features looking for a worthy distribution model.

. Partner with , or 2. Empower filmmakers with training e.g. 3. Equip them with an , or and directional 4. Give them the burning desire to tell their stories!