Newcastle-based filmmakers enter an international film competition

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

The My Rode Reel film challenge has given a group of 16 Newcastle-based filmmakers the chance to make their mark on the world stage.

My Rode Reel is the world’s largest film competition, with thousands of aspiring filmmakers from all over the globe competing for recognition in the entertainment industry.

The challenge requires participants to submit an original short film of no more than three minutes in length. They must also submit a behind-the-scenes film demonstrating how their short film was created.

Zama Msibi, the producer, director, and writer, leads the team.

Zama explains that he first became involved in filmmaking in 2009 with short student films.

“My first professional film gig was in 2012, where I did a cameo role for a multi-award-winning film Uhlanga -The Mark by Ndaba ka Ngwane, who I ended up working under his wing as a creative writer.

He also studied Drama and Performing Arts at UKZN and later had film training with Impucuzeko, a Durban-based skills development company.

As a writer and director, Zama emphasises, “I believe writers and directors are born not made. You have to be talented and then go get trainings to be skilled, because it futile to be talented and not be skilled. I strongly recommend going to school.”

In addition to all of this, Zama has two Mnet films under his belt, namely Indumbe and Unongendi.

He also won nine awards out of sixteen nominations for his short film on the international film challenge 48 Hours Film Challenge. One of those awards was for best writer and best director.

“The 48 Hours Film Project is an international film competition where you are given a genre, a prop, and a line to use in your film,” Zama explains. The film must be written and produced in only 48 hours. In 2012, young Durban filmmakers and I entered the challenge and produced an 8 minutes film Zwelihle.”

This film received 16 nominations and won nine of them, including best writer and director, both Zama’s roles.

“The film also won the best film, which meant it should be shown in the United States.” The eThekwini Municipality sponsored my trip to America, Louisiana, where I received an honorary award.”

The storey revolves around a man who considers himself a devoted husband, but medical tests at work reveal that he is HIV positive. When he returns home to explain, he discovers that his wife infected him after being forced to sleep with his brother to help him have a son because they believed he couldn’t bear children.

“What was on my mind is that, if Africans and traditions were meant for the benefit of humanity; then due to evolving conditions some traditions need to advance with time to prevent acting against their purpose.”

Zama’s film Zwelihle also won the best short film award at the Ugu Film Festival in 2013.

“This was my first South African Film Award, and it was a huge motivation. Even though it didn’t have much to win, but an award but that was enough for me to see I have a place in this industry.”

Zama, a man of immense experience and determination, explains how he and his talented team rose to the challenge of the My Rode Reel competition right away. Even though they had no budget and only a script, they were able to pull it off.

The team was inspired by the South African team that won last year’s competition with the film Amanzi Olwandle. It was a short film that inspired Zama and his team to persevere in their quest to create a zero-budget short film.

Msibi explains that because the filmmakers didn’t have any money, they had to borrow equipment from local videographers and shoot the short film in two days impressively and successfully.

Msibi diligently led the young developing star team to create the film Cherry in Newcastle, across Madadeni and Kilbarchan.

This is a short film about a young couple named Philani and Amanda.

Phila Dube, a Newcastle-based stage performer, inspired the storey with a township tale.

When asked about the film’s creation, Zama explained that it was not without its challenges. Finding props, transportation from one location to another, and shooting locations were all challenges. “For instance we had secured a bar for a bar scene. When we were ready to shoot, I received a call at midnight from the owner who was cancelling, I believe it was because we were not paying. But I would like to thank the families and other businesspeople who opened their doors for us.”

Zama also drove the cast and crew in his family’s car. “I used my own money to buy ingredients for catering and my fiancé cooked.”

Despite the difficulties, Zama says he must emphasise that they worked as a team, with each member contributing something.

Now that the movie has been completed, Zama and his team need the community to vote for their film. 

The public can watch the short film Cherry and vote for local filmmakers in Newcastle.

Click here to watch Cherry.

Be sure to show your support to Newcastle’s rising stars today.

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