News / Africa

South Africans Make Own Movies

 A group watches their movie at the Bioscope Independent Cinema after making a film at the Home Movie Factory in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Peter Cox/VOA)
A group watches their movie at the Bioscope Independent Cinema after making a film at the Home Movie Factory in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Peter Cox/VOA)
— Interested in making your own movie, but don’t have the money for a camera, or costumes or a set?  Don’t worry.  Johannesburg’s Home Movie Factory has you covered. 

In a former car body repair warehouse outside downtown Johannesburg, a group of workers from a non-profit foundation in Soweto are making a movie.  The movie, which they call The Shebeen Queen, deals with issues of drugs, sex and AIDS.

The film will likely never get to the Cannes Film Festival, let alone your local theater.  But that's not exactly the point of the exercise.

The Home Movie Factory is the brainchild of Academy Award winning director Michel Gondry, who has made films such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep and The Green Hornet.

Concept

The concept was developed to allow the public to come in and make movies on a pre-designed set, and get the experience of going through the filmmaking process.

Gondry's idea is based on his movie Be Kind Rewind, in which two movie store clerks remake Hollywood blockbusters on a shoestring budget.  He's taken this idea to Paris, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Rotterdam and Moscow.

"There are a couple of philosophies which is why it’s such a good project," he said. "It’s to give people who don't have creativity as their everyday work the chance to, without all the industrial process, to understand the experience and joy of filmmaking.

This is Arya Lalloo, the creative director for the Home Movie Project.

"Also, part of the idea is to find within the groups, within the team set up you are able to interact with strangers or people you know in a different kind of way," said Lalloo.

Visitors are put in groups of about 15.  They spend the first 45 minutes democratically narrowing down the genre and theme of their movie.  The next 45 minutes are spent coming up with a plot, filming locations, actors, costumes and hammering out other details.

Finally, the crew heads onto the set - a large empty warehouse space divided into different film backdrops  - a bedroom, kitchen, church, courthouse, doctor’s office, two Ford Cortinas, a Minibus and a township home. The filming begins.

"People really come together in the creative process and all those social barriers, and inhibitions, when you are in a creative moment seem to kind of dissolve.  The process itself is very interesting," said Lalloo.

The owners of the Bioscope Theater in Johannesburg, Darryl Els and Russell Grant, convinced Gondry to allow them to bring the idea to Johannesburg - the first city in Africa to have the project.

"This city is yearning for something different," said Els. "It’s been living.  People have been going to shopping malls and carbon copy nightclubs.  It’s really a matter of Johannesburg offering these new things.  So I think it was important that something like this came to Joburg.”

Popularity of project

Important?  Maybe. But definitely popular. The project, which began in early September, has already produced 150 movies, and has been booked solid.

When different groups combine to make a movie, the results are always interesting, says Vusi Thwala a guide at the factory.  He's noticed some trends.

"White groups tend to focus on horror and sci-fi, while black groups come in and do gangs and drugs," said Thwala. "When you combine them together, you get a whole lot of challenges.  You get sci-fi and township action tied together.  The type of energy you get there is actually hilarious - it’s something you didn't think you'd see."

To make the project work, Els and Russell raised funds locally and received fundraising help from the French Institute. Because of the fundraising, there is no cost to anyone who comes in to make a film.

So far things have been running smoothly, but Els says they did decide to make one change early on.

"Do we still have the gun? We took the guns away from the prop room. [Cause there was always cops and robbers]. That has not stopped the violent narrative from taking place. Generally people tend to die at the end of every movie... There is a thing where you can't lead the stories too much," said the guide.

At the end of filming, each group walks over to the Bioscope Independent Cinema to watch their film.

Tabiso Selepe, who was with the group from Soweto, says this was a unique experience.

"It was like scary at times.  But acting is acting.  It's fun.  It's entertaining.  I feel like Nicholas Cage, eh.  We are like superstars today, like an action movie," said Selepe.

The Home Movie Factory is open through the end of November. You can reserve your spot at the Johannesburg Home Movie Factory Facebook page.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid