A boost for EC female film makers

‘Women feel like they can’t be directors, editors or producers’

In a male-dominated film industry, a group of women film makers have made it their mission to promote an inclusive and transformed film sector in the Eastern Cape.
The Eastern Cape Women in Film (ECWIF) initiative was launched on Wednesday with the aim to upskill, motivate and empower women in the film industry, as well as create an active film economy in the province.
“We are often marginalised in administrative and assistant roles. Women feel like they can’t be directors, editors or producers, and we want to change those mindsets,” said ECWIF chair Noxolo Nelana, who was born and raised in East London and later studied at the Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking in Johannesburg.
Nelana was hired as a researcher and later a content producer for Ochre Media. She also gained experience as a teacher for a film training initiative in Grahamstown, where she fell in love with training upcoming film makers.“As a woman, it’s really difficult to break through in the film industry, and I often felt like there was no place for me.
“I remember even in the classroom when we split up into production teams, the male students would always operate the cameras or grab the roles of directors and editors, leaving the women to scramble for assistant roles. It was ridiculous.”
When Nelana met like-minded women in the industry at a Sisters Working in Film and TV (SWIFT) workshop last year, they joined forces and the idea to form ECWIF was born.
“It actually all started out as a WhatsApp group with 31 women, who are either from or living in the Eastern Cape, brainstorming and sharing ideas, insights and experiences.
“We formed a committee of six women to put our plans into action and now here we are,” she said.
From producers, scriptwriters and editors to marketing specialists, graphic designers and camera operators, the ECWIF committee boasts a range of skills and qualifications and is dedicated to empowering aspiring female film makers by sharing their knowledge and insights, while also facilitating the development of the film sector in the province.
“We’re setting up a training programme, funded by MICT Seta, in Buffalo City and hope to have one running in each region in the future. We’d like to be the driving force behind a growing and improved industry in the province and hopefully ensure that a film commission and policy is set up for the Eastern Cape by the end of next year,” said Nalena.
“Though our focus is primarily on women empowerment, we welcome anyone with an interest in film, because there are actually many film makers in the Eastern Cape, but most are self taught. If these creatives receive proper training it could open many doors for them and expand the industry in the province.”
The group’s motto, “Telling our stories, our way” is reflected in their passion for the Eastern Cape, its people and its stories.
“There are so many stories that we have not even begun to tell, and the Eastern Cape’s landscapes are amazing to film.
“There is a lot of potential for a thriving film sector here, and we hope to work with businesses and local governments, both to bring productions to the province and to produce our own,” said Nelana...

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