We were so excited to share our Women’s Month Appreciation Drive: every weekday in August we profiled amazing female Producers and heard from them about their work and what they want to share with other aspiring producers. Thank you to everyone who participated and inspired us!
‘My company, Rozanne McKenzie Media was founded in 2018. We produced Omgee-engele our first TV series in 2020 for Via on DStv. This was an incredible achievement for us, given the impact the pandemic had on the industry and South Africa as a whole. The show was focused on giving back to people in need and it made such a difference in the lives of many people. Currently, we are in development of two non-scripted series and one other very exciting project, that we can’t say too much about at this stage.
My message for aspiring producers, especially women of colour, is to surround yourself with a team of people who are just as passionate about your projects as you are. Also, keep learning and keep growing. We never know enough.’
Harriet Gavshon runs Quizzical Pictures which has produced some of South Africa’s great drama series including Intersexions, Hard Copy, The Lab, Umlilo and iNumber Number. Currently their production Reyka is being broadcast on Mnet and around the world.
Her message to young producers? ‘Often things don’t work out the way we want them to. Every day you have to pick yourself up and keep going! Being successful is often about keeping going more than anything else.’
Tshego Monaisa is a screenwriter, producer and director. Through her company, Monalisa Productions she produced and directed “The Single Diaries of a Jozi Girl” which was nominated for best international digital production at the Rio Web Fest and won best ensemble cast at the Asia Web Awards. Tshego wrote and directed the supernatural short film Thavhazimbi, which is currently showing on Showmax
Her message for aspiring producers: ‘The Film & TV industry is incredibly demanding. You need to be resilient, and open to learning. Take advice but also be headstrong so that you only use what applies to you. The industry is competitive so surround yourself with people who are supportive of you and want to see you grow.’
We bring you Carolyn Carew of Free Women Films who are multiple award-winning producers. Carolyn’s feature film or documentaries or TV dramas have premiered either at the Toronto Int. Film Festival, IDFA, DIFF, FESPACO, or PAFF and others. FWF content has screened on SABC, BBC, ZDF/ARTE, CANAL +, NHK and MNET. They company has won awards in REIMS, IDFA, FESPACO, ZIFF, SAFTAS and they work with co-producers globally and like to tell stories that have strong female protagonists.
Carolyn’s message for aspirant producers: ‘Find the stories you love to tell and the right people to tell them with, it’s a long and lonely journey being an independent producer, you need to know they are as committed as you are to the end product.’
Nomfundo Matlala is a seasoned Brand and Media strategist currently serving as CEO at Marche Media. Nomfundo believes that insights and analytical skills are not only a fundamental part of strategic excellence but critical when building content for international markets. Nomfundo also serves as a Council member for the National Film and Video Foundation
In her words: ‘Trust in the bonds you have created, nurture the possibilities that may come from collaboration and act in the best interest of a sustainable industry. Lead with that!’
Our very own IPO EXCO member, Leanne Kumalo, is a South African film producer, and Managing Director of Seriti Films which she co-founded in 2017 with Thabang Moleya & Kutlwano Ditsele. She is an Executive Producer having done several TV Drama Series, such as The Herd Season 1 & 2 (2018), The Imposter Season 2 (2018), and Gomora (2020-21). She also heads up the Seriti Commercials division, having worked with brands such as Discovery, Standard Bank, Coca-Cola & Jamesons. Her first feature film was Bunny Chow (2005).
In her words: ‘Many people ask what it takes to work in production…a spine of steel, a heart to deal with people’s short comings and the head to stay calm in the chaos – are just not things that can be taught. Producing is a fine art which takes a lifetime to master. I will spend the rest of my life as a work-in-progress.’
Bongiwe Selane is a producer best known for her debut feature film Happiness is Four-Letter Word. She was the first recipient of the NFVF’s Female Filmmakers Project, which saw her produce 26 short films by women filmmakers. She’s recently completed her second feature film Happiness Ever After, the sequel to Happiness is a Four-letter Word scheduled to premiere on Netflix later in 2021. She is an alumna of La Fabrique Cinema de L’Institute Francais (Cannes), Produire Au Sud and a graduate of EAVE Producers Workshop.
Her message to Young Producers: ‘Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, to ask when you don’t know. You’ll be surprised how many people want to see you win. And most of all, surround yourself with people who know more than you. That way, you’ll always be on the winning side.’
Anel Alexander is our next mover and shaker, throughout the course of her career, actress and producer she has excelled both in front of and behind the camera. Currently based in Los Angeles, Anel finds herself working in the area of development where she gets to live out her passion of connecting SA talent with the rest of the world. Together with her actor husband, James Alexander, Anel runs their production company, Scramble Productions, with a focus on telling stories that bring hope and challenge audiences both locally and abroad.
In her words: ‘Having worked all over the world, I still firmly believe that the SA industry has something really special to offer to the global filming community. Now is the time for us to all work together to create and fight for a sustainable industry for ourselves and generations of SA filmmakers to come.’
We give you Rethabile Ramaphakela who is an award-winning South African television & film producer, writer & director. She is the co-owner & Creative Director at the Johannesburg based television & film production company, Burnt Onion Productions. The company has produced short form and long from content, for various local & international broadcasters, including Netflix, SABC1, SABC2, SABC3, Multichoice & Viacom (BET, MTV Base, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon). She is a storyteller at heart & couldn’t imagine herself in any other industry.
In her words: ‘Keep going. Keep writing. Keep grinding. Keep swimming. Don’t let the rejections get to you. As cliché as it is, you have to keep going & only then will the results start showing.’
Desiree Markgraaff is a founding partner, exec producer and show-runner for the Bomb Shelter films, a company known for shows like Yizo Yizo, Zone 14, Isibaya, Jacobs Cross, Ayeye and many more. Their latest project is a daily drama House of Zwide on Etv. Together with an amazing team at Bomb she has been committed to telling authentic South African stories for 25 years whilst nurturing and growing local talent.
In her words: ‘Don’t be impatient or give up when you feel you not getting a break. Stay positive. Not every project or job you do will be great or feed your soul, but you will grow and learn even from the awful ones. Try and surround yourself with positive passionate people who match their talk with their work effort. There are so many opportunities and platforms to make content for, don’t be scared to try, waiting to be discovered is a waste of time. Be seen, get out there, polish your proposals and pitch.’
Our next sensational Producer is Cati Weinek, who is producing an animated feature film with Dumi Gumbi and her partners at Luma Animation, working on the release of two feature films for last quarter 2021, and preparing Sara Chitambo’s documentary, ‘Black People Don’t get Depressed’, which was selected for Marche du Films Cannes Docs 2021, for production. She believes that transforming the industry is an absolute priority so that women and gender diverse South Africans can step into the limelight with or without permission. The quote that makes most sense at this moment is from novelist, Arundhati Roy.
‘Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.’ Arundhati Roy
Cait Pansegrouw is a multi-SAFTA-winning producer and casting director with work that has travelled to Sundance, Berlinale, Venice, Durban and FESPACO, to name a few. In 2018 she was included on the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans list. Passionate about working with auteurs, she is perhaps most well-known for producing the 2018 Oscar-shortlisted Inxeba (The Wound) and more recently the critically acclaimed This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection. Cait also serves as Co-founder and Director of Artistic Operations for the Realness Institute and is a Durban Talents, Berlinale Talents, La Fabrique Cinema de L’Institut Francais, EAVE Producer’s Workshop and Biennale College-Cinema alumna.
In her words: ‘Cinema, to me, is activism. Either through the story or the cinematic language or both. The voice of the storyteller, the approach to the work and what is represented through it has the potential to be really powerful. There’s a quote I love by a writer, Rebecca Solnit, that sums it up for me:’ She struggles with the forces that would tell her story for her, or write her out of the story, the genealogy, the rights of man, the rule of law. The ability to tell you own story, in words or images, is already a victory, already a revolt.’
Khosie Dali is a Cape Town-based producer who was recently awarded Best Feature Film in South Africa for “Sons Of The Sea” at the Durban International Film Festival. She is an International Film Festival Rotterdam Lab alumna, a participant at EAVE Producers Lab 2021 and has taken part in various festivals and markets with her feature films in development such as Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival Co-Production Market, Durban FilmMart SA and JCC Chabaka in Tunisia.
She has been working between TV, music videos and narrative film for over 10 years producing content for local and international artists and clients. She is the founder of Cape Town-based production house Miss K Productions, collaborating with a diverse range of filmmakers. Her company’s mission statement is to provide filmmakers of colour a home to hone their skills in a safe space and present their stories and talents to a global audience. Since its inception, Miss K Productions has provided work opportunities for emerging black creatives in a range of fields.
In her words: ‘Being a producer in the filmmaking process can be very challenging, but you have to keep pushing. Keep learning, keep networking, Be careful when choosing your crew and collaborators. Try to surround yourself with people from different backgrounds and people who know a lot more than you do.’
The marvelous Beverly Mitchell, who is first and foremost a storyteller, has been in the industry for 28 years. She has accrued many skills over the years but getting writers to challenge themselves in developing characters, beats, plot points, story outlines and arcs across a series or within a stand-alone feature film is by far the most exhilarating. Overseeing writers’ rooms is her favourite!. She was recently appointed as the Vice President: Scripted at Trace Studios in Cape Town.
In her words: ‘My advice to aspiring producers is the following:– believe in yourself, know yourself, know what you’re good at and what you’re not. But most of all, stay true to yourself, and always open yourself to new learning. See every day as a new challenge, something to look forward to. And finally, never compromise who you are.’
Nobuntu ‘BusaBuntu’ Dubazana is the creative founder of disruptive media company, BusaBuntu Pictures (PTY) Ltd, youth and women focused NPC, The BusaBuntu Foundation, a former Council Member for the Film & Publication Board of South Africa & co-founder of the slow fashion brand, OSISI.
As a qualified Creative Economist, she is proud to use a diverse set of creative skills to develop stories from an African Perspective and popularise socially impactful digital and traditional platforms and products that share and connect with multi-cultural audiences, innovate the processes & outcomes of storytelling and make the seemingly impossible visually possible. She is currently the Show Creator/Showrunner/Lead Actor in the first 13 part Mocku-series from an African perspective, AFRICAN DREAMS, slated to air on @mzansi_fosho at 19:30 on the 17 October 2021.
In her words: ‘For new entrants to the industry I want to invite you to always have fun with the work you do but chiefly honour yourself & the work, this will allow for you to show up to every opportunity at your best because we work in SACRED spaces. I believe that the story is why we create’
Lala Tuku is a seasoned professional in the creative and communication industry. Lala is currently the MD and Executive Producer at Clive Morris Productions (CMP) where she has the opportunity to develop new business strategies for the organisation that see CMP staying ahead of the game and reaching new heights. Currently she is the executive producer for the new daily show The Estate on SABC 3 and Isono (the first daily telenovela for BET).
As part of her advocating for women and youth in the South African film and television industry, she co-founded and is chairperson of Africa Rising International Film Festival. Lala previously extensively served the film industry during her tenure at the NFVF as Stakeholder Relations Manager and SAFTAs Manager, contributing to the film body’s transformation programme and female and youth filmmaker slates.
“I would say to aspiring producers: Start where you are, with what you have. Create your first short film give yourself the experience. Secondly, networking is crucial. Create a force around you that ensures your name is being mentioned in spaces you may not be in. If the thing you want most will take time. Do it anyway, the time will pass! Craft your voice’.