One of the outreach channels for the Gauteng Film Commission's vision of nurturing young talent and actively assisting previously disadvantaged youth to participate in the industry is proving very successful. The GFC's 'Film as a Career' Workshops and Screenings Programme, targeting youth in communities is gaining momentum, reaching and inspiring many young and emerging filmmakers.

The programme rolled out in Tshwane last month (15 - 26 February), while the next phase is scheduled to run from 9 - 19 March in Ekurhuleni. These workshops and screenings are being run in conjunction with the Tshwane and Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipalities Library Services, and follow on from similar programmes run by the GFC in 2009 in other areas of Gauteng.

The concept involves a high profile audio-visual campaign that utilises the wealth of film materials currently available and content funded by the GFC.

"So far, we have had an overwhelming response from audiences, with the programme being an eye opener for most of them," comments Desmond Mthembu, project manager in the GFC's Industry Support Development unit.

He says the aim of the project is to discuss film as a career with young audiences, such as Grade 12s and out-of-school youth, whereby the filmmakers present unpack the role of each crew member in the film industry.

Documentary filmmaker Pule Diphare's films were screened in Tshwane and he has words of praise for this grassroots concept.

"We had very good attendance from schools around Tshwane townships and I think Tshwane community libraries bought into the idea of exposing local youth to careers in film. The workshops drew pupils from far-flung areas outside the city, with the libraries making resources available, and I believe the workshops were enriching," says Diphare.

His presentation focused on the diverse opportunities available in the film industry which, he believes, caters for everyone as people with a variety of interests, talents, passions and persuasions can find a vocation and a niche for themselves in film work - including accounts enthusiasts, hair stylists and carpenters.

His advice to aspirant filmmakers: "Never think you know. It's always a learning curve."

The overall aims of the project are to create a platform for filmmakers to showcase and interact with audiences, to provide access to film for communities in the Province, to foster appreciation of local content among cinema goers, to directly contribute to community-based job creation (both short and long term), to facilitate the growth of a cinema appreciation culture, to increase investor confidence in local content and also to empower previously disadvantaged individuals to become active economic participants in the film industry.

'Film as a Career' Workshops is a culmination of the Township Bioscope Project, rolled out over the last three years, where a sizeable number of audiences were reached. The aim is to reach all of the Province's districts and metropolitan municipalities. The workshops began in December last year, in collaboration with City of Johannesburg and Sedibeng District Municipality, where over 2 000 people reached through 17 screenings. It has changed negative perceptions about the film industry, stimulated cultural growth industries, and exhibited sign language film in deaf schools, a breakthrough for the GFC.

To read an in-depth interview with Pule Diphare that appeared in last month's newsletter, click here and to find out more about screenings to deaf school children, also part of the 'Film as a Career' project, click here.