In South Africa, Velocity executive producer Peter Carr started a commercial training programme six years ago at AFDA Film School and has since included the Vega School of Advertising where the students write the scripts and role play as agency, with a real client, Vision Mission, involved as well. The course begins with a week of lectures from senior industry professionals who act as mentors when the students produce their films. Last year the students shot six films and three made the grade to cinema screenings.
Here we talk to Zwelesizwe Ntuli, director of one of the films which were selected to be screened in cinemas.
Tell us a bit about the mentoring programme you’ve been on with Velocity?
I completed my honours degree at the end of 2010 at AFDA Johannesburg. I am currently working on writing a feature film, as well as working on writing and directing smaller projects.
What was the best piece of advice you have been given?
“There’s nothing wrong with the word ‘simple’.” Basically, when you are directing an advert, especially for the first time, you want to impress people. It’s easy to lose the heart of your concept and try to make the advert as flashy as possible, perhaps with an unnecessary stylistic shooting style, or an intense edit. While there is nothing wrong with heavily stylizing an advert, you have to know when it adds to the heart of the advert and when it becomes merely a distraction. With our advert I had to put away some of the more complex ideas that I had and side with the simpler ones. I think this worked out for the best, as I feel that the advert is pure, uncomplicated.
And what were the key things you learnt from the shoot?
Filmmaking as a whole is a collaborative process. We have formed crews and learned to work with others. However the industry standard has many more facets, production companies, sponsors, advertising agencies etc. Basically it is important to learn to work with not only your immediate crew, but also with people involved in different capacities. Working with Vega gave us insight into that dynamic. It was a great experience bouncing ideas back and forth, and negotiating what works and what doesn’t. Learning to cope with letting people outside of your immediate team having a say creatively, is key.
What’s your favourite part of the directing process?
Post-production where everything comes together! Seeing you project take form, and then being able to break it down and build an entirely different structure is very satisfying.