The 2018 Media and Cultural Studies Honours class recently screened their 7-minute short films at the Westville campus’ Television Studios. For the students, this was their first time venturing into film production, working with camera equipment and editing programmes.
The module was taught by Jasper Cecil, the UTEL project manager over 10 weeks interspersed with practical exercises. Lecturer, Dr Anusharani Sewchurran, who wanted to ensure that students were equipped with the necessary skills of film production and organisation initially approached Jasper to mentor the students. The students were exposed to various aspects of putting together a film such as location scouting, lighting, animation, using green screens, recce, copyrighting, budgeting, sound and voice-overs.
They were finally three teams of five students each, and each team was tasked to come up with a short film that exhibited drama, creativity and an entertainment element.
Team One took on a reality TV spin with their film titled “The Passion Project” in which audiences were introduced to three people (a dog walker, musician and real estate photographer) who have developed a passion for their work and serve as a source of inspiration for people to follow their dreams.
‘Putting together this film taught us the value of teamwork but also allowed us to learn new skills. We never realised how much hard work goes into filmmaking. It’s never as simple as picking up a camera and shooting. There’s a lot of planning and preparation,’ said Mr Thando Masiko.
Team Two created a thought-provoking film that focused on domestic violence in which student, Ms Nokubonga Komako, made her acting debut. Much of the film relied heavily on visually stimulating and dramatic footage to drive home a message about mental and physical scarring of domestic violence. The film dispelled the profiling stereotype that only the poor and marginalised suffer abuse.
Team Three produced a hip-hop music video called “The Graduation Speech” featuring well-known Umlazi rapper Razoh. The video was fun and entertaining with Razoh spitting lyrics in isiZulu and English about being a student, pursuing his music goals and ultimately graduating with his degree from UKZN. One of the students on Team Three, Ms Nonhlanhla Mncube, said the experience was enjoyable. ‘We had to come up with a narrative that complemented the lyrics. We shot on campus and had Razoh wear his graduation attire but also had the opportunity to use green screens to create a grad backdrop,’ she said.
Dr Sewchurran plans on implementing a longer film production module next year and will now be screening the short films to first year media students.