District 9 gets my two alien thumbs up!

August 28, 2009

Man, I still have that excited, giddy feeling a little kid gets on Christmas morning! District 9 opened in cinemas here in South Africa tonight and I watched it, with a packed out cinema of proud South Africans. It was an original South African story (even if it was fictional) with a fully South African cast (thankfully with no yanks trying to pull off accents they cannot)! And the cast “brought it” with a truly international performance! The special effects were awesome. The story line was gripping. I laughed, I gasped, and I probably would have cried at times if I would not have been so excited about how much I was loving the film.

And I wasn’t the only one! When the credits started rolling in the end, the entire people-packed theatre erupted in applause. It was a great moment! I can’t remember the last time I was in a movie that received an applause. It made me proud to see how proud, and “ready”, the South African public is for original, well told South African stories, outside the genres of South African films they are normally fed. It gives me hope for certain films that I would like to see get made; films that I would like to make my self. And it answers some questions I had when I wrote the other blog on the SA film industry just a few days ago. So…if you haven’t seen it yet, go out and watch it! District 9!


We Will Serve Ourselves

August 18, 2009

I have only recently gotten involved in the local “film industry” here in South Africa, so any of you who have been here long and think I am talking complete nonsense are welcome to correct me!

What I have come to realize is there is no film industry in South Africa.

This may sound strange to people who are continuously inconvenienced by closed streets in the summer due to a film shoot. And it may be old news to others. But for me it’s a new revelation.

I wrote a book, that a friend and I turned into a script. I was trying to raise money on Facebook to “make” the film, knowing it wasn’t that easy, but also knowing that getting the name out would be a start. I also passed the script around to a few local production companies.

Though I haven’t signed anything yet, there are a couple of production houses who are interested.

All of that to say…

In this process, I have realized what I previously stated: South Africa does not have a film industry. Sure, South Africa has a booming service industry, as we see many overseas ventures being shot here; local production companies have even done line production on some of the biggest blockbusters of our time.

But there are still very few, to no, films being made by South Africans, with South African money, for South Africans, distributed in South Africa.

I am interested in ways of building this. I am curious to hear ideas.

Can the local Corporates give more money, like the collage of logos we see at the start of Brazilian films?

If the local cinemas and video shops are not more accommodating with distribution can we work out more grassroots, pioneer ways of distribution, like putting up screens in community halls?

Much like community radio stations have a ratio of local/international music they must play, favoring local by a higher percentage, can we see that Cinemas (or at least certain ones) do the same with local/international film ratios?

Honestly, I don’t know ways to build the industry necessarily. But what I do know is that there are many beautiful South African stories, of all genre types, to be told, by South Africans, for South Africans, within South Africa. And I also know the line production service infrastructure for shooting films is more than here. We just need to work on the funding and distribution side of things. Right?

I believe the South African film industry has the potential to grow to the point where America pays big money to get South African made films playing in their cinemas, right next to the Hollywood blockbusters.

What do you think?