"What emerged for me through these dynamic exchanges is the South African film industry is making a strong impression on a global level. This was evident in nearly all the meetings we attended; the Americans made a point of impressing on us their respect for our production services companies, our talented crew pool, our locations, our government film incentives. What excited me most were the possibilities of engaging with North American producers at the creative content level. These exchanges affirmed that co-productions/partnerships with American studios and independents are seriously possible if our stories/screenplays are strong and resonate at a global level. I believe that we are at the cusp of something great and we have to seize this moment to forge partnerships with the global community of filmmakers to usher in an exciting and dynamic phase in our evolving film industry."
Those are words from Junaid Ahmed, of South Africa's Fineline Productions, a company you might recall (since we announced it over the summer) received funding from the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) to develop and produce annual feature films for three years, with the goal being to discover and develop new black filmmaking talents in South Africa.
The above quote he made at what ScreenDaily calls a South Africa/Hollywood exchange which took place recently in Hollywood, where South African government officials and film production executives (like Ahmed) participated in a week-long program that included strategic meetings with senior Hollywood studio executives, all with the intent to find ways that both industries can work together in the future, in terms of physical production, co-production, financing, development for both film and TV, and more.
I think his above statement sums it all up quite nicely. If you've been paying attention to our posts on this site, especially in the last year, you'd have noticed several on South African cinema specifically (black South African cinema especially) – whether on specific films, or general observations and reports on the black South African experience with regards to cinema.
And with Hollywood being the most dominant cinema brand in the world, it only makes sense to expect closed-door meetings like these between the studios and representatives from countries that would like to tap into their seemingly abundant resources (and audiences), and who strive for a similar respect on the international cinema stage, when it comes to the overall quality of the work.
In a previous post, Junaid Ahmed of Fineline Productions said that his motivation to do what he does was based on:
… his concern over the slow advancement of black film professionals; particularly screenplay writers, directors and producers in the film industry [in South Africa]. An intensive-action plan was hatched by Ahmed and his team at addressing the root of the problem. This involves selecting and grooming aspirant film-makers with “natural DNA and flair for the art of visual story-telling,” said Ahmed.
His company plans to spend R2m each year (or about $250,000) developing and eventually producing 1 feature film, adding that the company is especially searching for "submissions that have a strong commercial bent especially in the genres of action adventure, drama, romance, comedy and thrillers."
We'll continue to watch these advancements and initiatives, and see where it all leads…