In this new series, In Focus takes a look at South Africa�s emerging young talent, highlighting their thinking, what they�ve been up to, what they think of the industry and where it�s all heading. This month, journalist Martin Chemhere finds out what a couple of former graduates of some of Gauteng�s film learning institutions are doing; speaks to a couple of the young winners at the SAFTAs and chats to a couple of local scriptwriters whose scripts have been read by Hollywood studios.

If you�re a new young talent making your mark in the industry and would like to share your opinions and journey with us, contact In Focus at editor@gautengfilm.org.za.

Gauteng Province continues to steadily provide an increasing number of young filmmakers to the national film industry through the numerous informal and formalised film training institutions dotted around the province.

The film training centers have offered a groundswell of bright filmmaking talent, many of whom, despite their infancy, are making commendable first steps, contributing to the growth of Gauteng�s film industry.

We spoke to three graduates to find out what they�ve been up to since graduating:

Maanda Ntsandeni, an ex-graduate of the Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking  (formerly Monash Film and TV Unit) studied directing and writing documentaries.

�When I went to Monash Film and TV Unit, I focused on directing and writing documentaries as it is the kind of cinema that happens to inspire me. It could be anything around socio-political, human rights and cinema that explores that connection between man and nature as was the case with my previous documentary Legends of the Lake.�

Ntsandeni is, however, slowly gravitating towards fiction or its narrative form because he believes that �a story is a story and it's that one that will place its demand on you as a filmmaker with regards to aesthetics�.

He views formal film school training as a platform to engage the movie sector in a normal manner but believes study can at best only give you an idea of what happens in real terms.

Since leaving Big Fish, he has worked mainly on documentaries (directing) and has also worked for a private television broadcaster TV as producer, cameraman and an editor for over a year.

In his heart, is the burning ambition to work on his own projects at his own pace. �A lot of overseas directors do that all the time because they are in love with their work to a point where they are prepared to sacrifice a lot of things in their lives.�

As an emerging filmmaker the challenge has always been funding: �Even though the rapidly changing technology allows us to make films for less, it remains a struggle.�

By producing his own films, pushing boundaries he knows, and building on the work already pioneered by the bigger names like Vincent Moloi and Rehad Desai, is his way of contributing to the growth of the Gauteng film industry.

He is highly optimistic about the industry in Gauteng: �I have never believed in the industry more than now. I think there are tremendous opportunities that exist with all the different initiatives that have been put in place to help the sector. You talk about DTI rebate schemes to your co-production treaties, which I think should work to our advantage. We just need to dump the culture of expectation because to make a film remains a privilege not a right.�

Ntsandeni would like to see himself producing all the films he feels strongly about. �There are several projects that keep me awake at night and that's my focus for the next 12 months.�

Julius Jooste, (Diploma � IT Engineering 2004 (CTI, BA Live Performance � Music (1st Year) 2005 (AFDA) and BA Motion Picture � Production (2006 �2008) (AFDA), believes that he has the best film training background to champion a new revolution in the art of filmmaking in South Africa.

�AFDA taught me to plan ahead. My production lecturer, Lloyd Power, always emphasised the importance of producers living according to budget and schedule. He would always say that without these two components you�ll fall flat on your face and become persona non grata.

"I�m glad to say that AFDA�s core values (passion, self discipline, integrity, reliability and humility) have been integrated into my daily business life,� he quipped.

Jooste has already found some work with RP Productions, which he describes as �the biggest live TV-football content provider in Africa�.
�I�m cutting my teeth as a junior production co-coordinator and associate producer and am also serving as an apprentice under Belgian Executive Producer Robert Paltiel and French Producer Pierre Klagyivik.�

He adds that with the company currently gearing up to facilitate numerous international broadcasters for the Confederations Cup in 2009 and the World Cup in 2010, he would �get to travel all across this beautiful country of ours and show international broadcasters what makes South Africa so unique. I�m loving every second of it!�

The transition from student to employee has been a rather difficult one for him and only now he is starting to see how massive and how international the industry really is.

AFDA taught him to be the kind of creative that challenges and questions everything, getting himself into trouble for asking questions that people don�t really want answered!

How does he see himself contributing to the film industry? �From a content point of view, I hope to provide viewers with content that is nutritional food for thought. I want to be that spark that ignites a great and important conversation. From a technical point of view, I�d like to supply the industry with energy and cost-efficient lighting.�

To Jooste, the film industry provides him with an opportunity to engage in new things everyday. �After receiving my IT Diploma, I started working at a Wi-Fi company in Sandton. The money wasn�t bad but the hours, traffic and constant technical support got monotonous. I soon left the company in search of something a bit more exciting and that is how I discovered AFDA.

�Since then, all I have asked for is for every day to be different from the next. Thankfully, the industry has supplied me with a lot of different and unique challenges. As long as it stays that way I�ll be happy,� he comments.

Asked about his concerns, he said that he had none and was �very optimistic� about the future of South African productions.  He aspires to be a household name some day.

Louis Minnaar,  who specialised in video production at The Open Window School of Visual Communication, believes the course thoroughly prepared him for the industry�s challenges.

�I have a desire to get involved with experimental audio-visual projects that challenge boundaries. I specifically like the idea of music video direction and experimental short films,� commented the youthful Louis.
At 24, he is already guaranteed work which he says is beginning to come in, giving him the much needed confidence to keep his ambitions high. �I have been commissioned for several music videos but the projects are still in their infant stages,� he explains.

Like other emerging filmmakers elsewhere, Louis is facing his own challenges. �I guess it (South Africa) is a tough place for film making as there are a lot less people that want to fund the really creative and more alternative projects. There is a very specific market that needs to be catered for in this country, and I think it excludes a proper exploration of the medium (merely for the love of the art) to a large extent, as opposed to entertaining the masses.�

As a young filmmaker, how is he himself contributing to Gauteng�s film industry?

�I want to be able to get involved with really creative projects that allow the medium to be seen for what it is - a form of art. Hopefully then, people would get out of the mindset that they need to go to Europe to work with people that believe in the medium.�

On the future of the film sector, he observed that �new and exciting possibilities are opening up for exploration.�

He also spoke about his expectations in the film industry. �I expect people to be able to let go of the so called �safe� routes of doing things and stepping out to let new exploration take place.�

We�re hoping that he helps achieve this, so that we can see and hear more of this creative young talent.

Indeed, with this kind of spirit displayed by the young and upcoming filmmakers, Gauteng can only grow its economical and cultural power.