Shorts : the potential role of the short film in the development of the South African film and television industries

Maasdorp, Liani (2000-03)

Thesis (MDram)--Stellenbosch University, 2000.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The study starts with a general analysis of the South African film industry and finds that lack of funding, the shortage of dedicated, industry-accredited training, the political climate of the past, censorship, the subsidy system, local distribution problems, and the success of Hollywood films have all played a part in bringing about a veritable dearth in local film production in South Africa. While the local film industry may not be able to repair itself fully in the short term, I do believe the energy and talent is there to start making a concerted effort to actively stimulate the production of a wide variety of local films to kick-start the healing process. I believe short films (shorts) have the potential to play an important role in this process, and the bulk of the study explores this idea by looking at the nature, form, and potential of shorts as well as the processes involved in their production. I fmd that the short film is the ideal medium for experimentation and development, and can serve as a valuable teaching tool in film and television training. As importantly, the short is one of the best mediums of empowerment for disadvantaged filmmakers, due to the relatively small size of its budget. Shorts have the ability to playa part in stimulating the growth of the local film and television industries, and in redressing socio-political imbalances of the past in a country where film was previously used as a tool of propaganda and oppression. It seems clear from the examples of other small film industries internationally that the encouragement, through innovative funding initiatives and international co-productions, of vibrant, authentic local short and feature film production can play an important role in strengthening the local film industry. It can be beneficial to stimulate the production of shorts in particular, as this will enable new and experienced filmmakers alike to experiment and develop ideas and techniques, thereby also developing the industry as a whole. Among the specific suggestions made in the thesis are the implementation of a quota system governing the screening of local productions, the stimulation of film literacy through establishing film festivals and a short film website, the stimulation of short film production through public and private funding and co-productions, and the advancement of film training. In addition, local broadcasters could be encouraged to participate more in funding feature and short film production in order to stimulate the development of a healthy, viable film industry in South African. South Africans can gain a lot from a healthy film industry - an increased number of employment opportunities, improved training institutions, an increase in tourist activity, and a medium that can serve as a form of expression and a forum for discussion. We still have a long way to go before these projected gains become an everyday reality, but it seems that shorts can, and must, play an invaluable part in taking local talent and the South African film industry as a whole to a level of performance where it will be able to exploit these opportunities to the full.

AFRIKAANSE OSPOMMING: Die tesis begin met 'n ontleding van die Suid-Afrikaanse filmbedryf waarin gevind word dat plaaslike filmproduksie in Suid-Afrika gekortwiek is deur verskeie faktore, waaronder 'n tekort aan befondsing en geskikte opleiding, die politiese klimaat van die verlede, sensuur, die subsidie stelsel, plaaslike verspreidingsprobleme, en die sukses van Hollywood films. Dit word ook duidelik dat die plaaslike bedryf nie binne 'n oogwink herstel kan word nie, maar dat die energie en talent tog bestaan waarmee die produksie van 'n wye verskeidenheid plaaslike ftlms weer gestimuleer sou kon word. Ek glo dat kortfilms die potensiaal het om 'n uiters belangrike rol te speel in hierdie proses, en in hierdie tesis bekyk ek die gedagte aan die hand van 'n indringende studie van die aard, form en potensiaal van kortfilms, en die prosesse betrokke by die produksie daarvan. 'n Sleutel bevinding is dat die kortfilm nie net die ideale medium vir eksperimentering en ontwikkeling is nie, maar dat dit ook kan dien as 'n waardevolle hulpmiddel in film- en televisieopleiding. Net so belangrik is die bevinding dat kortfilms. danksy hullae produksiekoste, een van die beste mediums is vir bemagtiging van minderbevoorregte filmmakers, Kortftlms kan dus 'n rol speel in die stimulering van die plaaslike film- en televisiebedrywe, én help om van die ongelykhede van die verlede uit die weg te ruim, in 'n land waar film voorheen gebruik is as 'n werktuig van propaganda en onderdrukking. Dit blyk duidelik uit die voorbeelde van ander klein filmbedrywe dat die aanmoediging van die aktiewe vervaardiging van oorspronklike kort- en vollengte films ons eie fIlmbedryfkan versterk. Innoverende befondsingsondernemings en internasionale mede-produksies is ook van belang in hierdie verband. Dit is dan ook veral van belang omjuis kortfIlmproduksie te stimuleer, aangesien dit beide nuwe en ervare filmmakers die geleentheid gee om te eksperimenteer en idees en tegnieke te ontwikkel, wat dan weer vernuwend kan inwerk op vollengte fIlmproduksie en die ontwikkeling van die bedryf in sy geheel. Ander spesifieke voorstelle wat in hierdie tesis gemaak word is onder andere die implementering van 'n kwota-stelsel wat die wys van plaaslike produksies sal reguleer, die bevordering van entosiasme, kennis en inligting oor ftlms en die filmbedryf deur middel van fIlmfeeste en die internet, die stimulering van kortfIlmproduksie deur verhoogde privaat- en regeringsbefondsing en die aanmoediging van mede-produksies, en die bevordering van goeie opleiding in fIlmproduksie. Verder kan plaaslike uitsaaiers aangemoedig word om te help met die befondsing van kortfilms sowel as vollengte films. 'n Gesonde, lewensvatbare filmbedryf in Suid-Afrika sal nie net voordele inhou vir filmmakers en -kykers nie, maar ook vir gewone Suid-Afrikaners, aangesien dit onder andere meer werksgeleenthede, verbeterde opleidingsinstansies en verhoogde toeristeaktiwiteit sal meebring. Dit sal ook 'n medium daar stel wat kan dien as 'n vorm van kreatiewe uitlewing sowel as 'n gespreksforum. Alhoewel dit tyd sal neem om al hierdie voordele 'n realiteit te maak, kom dit tog voor of kortfilms 'n onontbeerlike rol kan, en moet, speel om plaaslike talent en die filmbedryf as 'n geheel op 'n vlak te kry waar film-makers die beskikbare geleenthede ten volle kan benut.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/51908
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