A delegation of film and theatre professionals from the North East of England recently visited Gauteng to exchange views and experiences with members of the Gauteng audiovisual industry.

While the main purpose of the visit was to forge greater links with the Eastern Cape as part of a programme of artistic exchange, the delegation visited Johannesburg in order to gain a greater understanding of the national film and TV context and in particular to assess the current TV, film and theatre landscapes.

The delegation included Tom Harvey, CEO of Northern Film and Media – a regional screen agency for North East England; Jim Beirne, CEO of Live Theatre; Max Roberts, artistic director at Live Theatre; Michael Chaplin, writer and director; Philip Shotton, filmmaker; and Lisa Laws, community initiatives manager for Northern Film and Media.

During presentations delivered in the Market Theatre, Harvey and Laws addressed the work that Northern Film and Media does in the area of both talent and audience development. Chaplin reflected on his extensive experience of writing across a variety of media, including film, radio and television. In his presentation Shotton reflected on the challenges attached to the central task of adapting ideas into strong images.

According to Harvey the similarities between Gauteng and the North East of England are striking in that both regions are seeking a stronger role for cultural production in a post-industrial economy. In this, he noted, the ongoing development of talent, creativity and capacity is paramount.

The group had earlier met with representatives from the National Film & Video Foundation (NFVF), the Gauteng Film Commission, the SABC, Atlas Studios, the South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance (AFDA) and the South African Screen Federation (SASFED).