Making a plan to make movie magic

Into the Wilderness, premiered at the Labia Theatre. Picture: supplied

A Diep River scriptwriter and her film-making friends have pooled their talents to make a movie that premiered at Labia Theatre on Sunday April 23.

Into the Wilderness is a short film that tells the story of Andy and how everything in his life unravels when he meets a beautiful stranger and rejects his family’s expectation for him to marry a business partner’s daughter, Katie. Twists, turns and secrets that have been buried for years.

The scriptwriter, Manpenzi Valerie, says she always knew she wanted to be a storyteller. Born in Zambia, she grew up in Swaziland and moved to Cape Town to study film at SAE Institute. Despite starting in 2017, Ms Valerie is still working towards completing her studies. Seeing the film premiere at the Labia was a surreal experience, she says.

Her parents told her they would cover half the cost of her film studies if she got a part-time job to cover the rest. She worked for about five years to raise the money and is now working full-time as a carer for an elderly woman to raise the money for her final semester.

“It’s a balancing act,” says Ms Valerie. “If you have a dream, you don’t know how you are going to get there, but, one way or the other, you have to, you just do everything that you can.”

You don’t have to wait for a “big break”, it is all about collaboration, she says.

“I know a couple of friends/colleagues who are also struggling. We just said what can we do if we just pull our resources? Let’s just see what we can do with what we have right now because if we just keep waiting, nothing will get done. So we just came together as a collective, our core crew were four-five people.

“Figure out what you can do with the little resources that you have. If you have an idea, surely you can find someone with a camera.”

Taking on several roles, Gabriel Dominic, was both a director and producer, and he plays the role of Katie’s father, William.

Mr Dominic was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and since coming to South Africa 11 years ago he has started his own clothing line, record label and production company, Gabby Kool Film Productions. Into the Wilderness is the production company’s first film.

The experience has brought a lot of learning curves, says Mr Dominic,

“We started shooting in April/May last year and shot over two weeks. We struggled with the editing until January. Music is different to acting. Editing is the main finishing point for a movie. With a music video, you can just cut, cut, cut and put a music video together. When it comes to movies, everything needs to be on point. And that is where I will put more of my energy with the next project. I have done the first one, let me just see how the second one will go.”

Director, producer and actor Gabriel Dominic with Idah Motlhala, one of the supporting actors Into the Wilderness. Picture: supplied.
With only a small film crew, scriptwriter Mapenzi Valerie had a go at using a camera rig. Picture: supplied.