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)
TEXT SIZE - +
— 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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid