According to Inspired Minority Pictures, local film makers are for the first time beginning to co-operate and mobilise a realistic local film industry.  This innovative company is producing a ten slate of features next year, with assistance from the NFVF and DTI.  And, more importantly, they are opening this up to young film makers who wouldn't normally have the opportunity.

But, these young film makers must prove themselves.  To help assess their talent, IM ran a series of workshops in Gauteng, at Museum Africa in Newtown, last month (November 2008).  The workshops aimed at encouraging directors, scriptwriters and producers to meet and experiment with actors before they put pen to paper in a dynamic and challenging development process.

The Gauteng Film Commission sponsored the venue and catering as a contribution to what could be one of the most dynamic film collaborations the local industry has ever known.

In Focus spoke to IM's Simon Hansen and Hannah Slezacek at the workshop:

In Focus: How did this initiative start and who are the major players?
Hansen: I started it. The purpose of the workshops is to find, and interact with new talent, (actors, writers, directors and producers) and in the process align the thinking around the IM 10 slate projects and to communicate the ambitious targets of the project. It is IM's ambition to evolve the notion of what South African film might be.

In Focus: What funding model are you using and what's the amount available?
Hansen: IM intends to use a cutting edge funding model to produce 10 films in one process. The budgets will vary but will be between one and four million rand per project.

In Focus: So how did you canvass for attendees to the workshop? And give us a brief run down of the workshop contents.
Hansen: Workshops have developed organically as a result of an overwhelming response and need for mobilisation and co-operation between film makers. IM has coordinated this for the purpose of its slate but without any marketing or promotion. Attendees have discovered the opportunity thus far by word of mouth. Workshops are an open forum and encourage those who are keen on co-operation to participate.

In Focus: What has the response been?
Hansen: We have had very encouraging response to the project and workshops as a whole. There are attendances of between 30 and 65 people at each workshop. IM has also been able to properly determine the state of skills and readiness in the industry as well as where the pitfalls and shortages are. This has been invaluable to the process of defining a slate of films that delivers.

In Focus: Can you advise the workshop venues, dates and the numbers of people attending?
Hansen: I think the best thing here is if you register at www.Safe.inspiredminority.com you will receive updates on the times and venues of workshops.

In Focus: You made contact with the Gauteng Film Commission - tell us about the assistance you received from the Commission
Slezacek: I contacted Jacques Stoltz at the GFC regarding the workshops in Johannesburg - our original venue had fallen through and Jacques graciously volunteered to sponsor the venue at the museum as well as the catering.

In Focus: What is the roll-out timetable for the projects, and when do you anticipate the first one will be completed?
Hansen: We aim to have the 10 concepts locked by March 2009, with a view to developing the screenplays and beginning pre-production before the end of 2009.

In Focus: Confirm that these will be feature length productions and also the shooting and post production format.
Hansen: The 90 minute features will be shot on mixed format and will utilise the latest innovation and technology. There is no good or bad technology only appropriate technology.

In Focus: Advise whether you have any distribution for the projects lined up.
Hansen: IM intends to distribute the films as a slate using a range of conventional and innovative methods.

In Focus: Is there anything you would like to say to aspiring writers, directors and actors out there?
Hansen: I would like to encourage aspirant film makers who have what it takes to become involved in this highly collaborative and co-operative venture. The IM slate is designed around strong concepts which must have strong commercial appeal. If you believe you have ideas with strong commercial appeal and are keen to collaborate please contact hannah@inspiredminority.com for more information.