Film to forge futures

Anele Mandla, Ivanna Levendall, Teagon Klein, Cheslyn Davis, Keanu Corker and Anslin Klein are all excited students to learn media and film at the ForwardFund Academy.

Masiphumelele and Ocean View youth are about to dig deep into a year-long course in media and film-making; learning how to tell their own stories and those of their respective communities.

The young students want to shed the generations of stereotyping and prejudice that their communities endure, using film-making as a tool for social change.

Twenty students, the majority residents of Masiphumelele and Ocean View, have been awarded this opportunity through scholarships at the freshly launched ForwardFund Academy.

The film and television production academy opened its doors in Kommetjie Road on Tuesday April 10.

Bryony Roughton, owner of South African Youth Media Education, (SAYME) spoke at the academy’s launch about her collaboration with trustee of ForwardFund, Tina Thiart.

Ms Roughton said the academy is about bringing media to the valley “in a big way”.

As a Sun Valley resident, she said she wants the film students to represent both the far south, and what she calls the global south – as in South Africa.

“We have the most incredible stories to tell here, and what better way to tell them than to get the people at the crux of the matter to be the ones telling them,” Ms Roughton said.

“My vision is to use the process of teaching media to bring development to the community and individuals; to equip people with the skills to improve their own lives and their communities economically. I believe media validates people and communities by giving them a voice,” she said.

She said film is the most current storytelling tool. “People read less today, but everyone watches documentaries and films,” she said.

Ms Roughton has successfully run a similar project in the Eastern Cape where she offered media and film studies to schools. The pupils there produced a plethora of short films, one of which was shown as an example at the academy’s launch on Tuesday. The clip shown dealt with the subject of circumcision rites and the learning curve that a group of young Xhosa men had about how respect is earned.

She said that the students from Ocean View and Masi would be producing movie clips about life in the valley and would feed into the centenary celebrations for Fish Hoek as a project.

Ms Roughton has chosen to work with ForwardFund Academy full-time, in support of its vision.

The bursaries are funded by ForwardFund, a non profit organisation and registered fund, which invests in organisations that encourage entrepreneurship and enterprise development and also invests in community development projects for the benefit of social change.

Ms Thiart described herself as an old feminist, saying she has fought for social change in one form or another her whole life. “Most of my work is aimed at creating opportunities for women in the communities I live in. If you empower them, you change the whole community,” she said.

She added that we are now in the fourth workplace evolution which began with the industrial revolution. “We are now facing the prospect of people being replaced by computers; and the reality for a lot of learners in this area is that they don’t have access to computers. We will be addressing that,” she said.

The women, through the academy, aim to be pivotal in the development of local women-owned small businesses by providing training to women in the area; and they want the next intake of film students to be a majority of young women.

The academy is offering a SAQA-accredited National Certificate in Film and Television Production. It is a one-year course in film and television studies. The national certificate gives previously disadvantaged students the opportunity to learn film and television skills and to equip students with the knowledge necessary to freelance and work within the industry.

They are also launching a new national certificate course called New Venture Creation, which will be introduced in the next phase, and will focus on investing in the education of previously disadvantaged female entrepreneurs.

Ms Thiart said the decision to establish the academy locally was inspired by watching her niece travel to the city and battle significant transport issues just to study. “We were encouraged to open in Fish Hoek but we wanted to be as close as possible to our communities,” she said.

Ms Thiart lives in Kommetjie. She hopes that within 18 months to two years the academy will grow into a fully-fledged college, able to present a lot more training courses.

Ms Thiart said many scriptwriters and film-makers live in the valley on the Kommetjie side of the mountain and that many have already offered their support in terms of mentorship to the academy, which she is deeply grateful for.

Anslin Klein is one of the students who has signed up. He is so keen to be part of it that he braves the traffic and travels from Kraaifontein to take part. He said he is a young writer whose drive and dream is to make a movie. “I have joined to learn the skills I need to make a success of this dream,” he said.

Keanu Corker lives in Ocean View and has been selected to do the film course. “In my community there is a lot of gangster activity taking place. There are not many activities for people my own age and it’s not safe for the children to play outside. We all have to be indoors by 7pm to try to stay out of the way of gun shots,” he said.

“We don’t feel safe. The reason I am part of this academy is that I want to make a difference to our community by spreading the stories of how we live, how we get on with our daily needs. We are not just a community of coloureds; we want to make something of ourselves. We are not more or less fortunate than others, but sometimes we just need a little bit of help to get where we want to be. If we can get that help, then there’s no problem,” he said.

Teagon Klein is also an Ocean View resident. He has a blog on Facebook which he describes as a “churchy blog with more of a drag queen style”.

“I want to go higher in what I am doing – not for myself – but to open doors for the community of the lesbian, gay, transsexual, bisexual and intersex (LGTBI) community because they don’t get a chance or easy acceptance by many. So I want to give my community a chance, telling their stories, by starting with me.”

The academy will be launching a new national certificate course called New Venture Creation which will be introduced in the next phase and will focus on investing in the education of previously disadvantaged female entrepreneurs.

To get involved with the academy, email or call 021 782 8816.

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