#SAFilmSummit: Audiovisual Industry’s Greatest Gathering – Day 2

Tuesday February 5th, delegates returned to the SkyRink Studios to continue the conversation from the first day. Like most institutions in South Africa the transformation in the film industry has been slow. The main aim of this summit was to encourage rapid and tangible results during the transformation process. 

To achieve this the five commissions that were conducted on the first day continued. Each commission focused on a specific part of transformation. During their discussions, they answered questions geared towards improving conditions in the industry. At the end of the day, the delegates reconvened, and each commission had the opportunity to give a report on the recommendations made during their commissions.

Commission one was on “Owning the South African Storyline.” Since 1994, South Africa’s national identity was built on our diversity. It was recommended that diversity is not only our identity but our truth and thus our story. To create content that will teach the world about South Africa, it was suggested that broadcasting agencies be part of the production process. By taking a role as co-producers, the agencies will be reinvesting back into the industry and encouraging more growth.

But what is growth without empowerment? Copyright laws are meant to protect content creators. It is through these laws that creators get to benefit from their work. Encouraging partnerships between the broadcasters and production houses would see content creators owning their work versus selling their work.

But unless we have policies in place to protect the rights of content creators and those who work in the industry, the ownership of our story will only remain a myth. To avoid this, commission two was created to focus on Policy, Structure and Institutions. 

During their feedback, commission two pointed out that those policies meant to protect people in the industry are outdated. The film industry has evolved through the years. While the evolution happened regardless of red tape in the industry, the red tape needs to go. The industry previously supported the success of white men. Women, black filmmakers and those living with disabilities never had a seat on the table. Today, women, black filmmakers and those living with disabilities are still at the bottom of the food chain. 

The empowerment of the forgotten was in Commission 5. They focused on Empowerment, Inclusivity and Capacity Building. It was clear sitting in that commission that 25 years of democracy has not done much for the voices of women, black filmmakers, young film makers and those living with disabilities. Since its creation, the industry has been rigged. Equal distribution of resources remains a problem. Recommendations where made for the industry to employ those institutions that were created to protect the forgotten to protect the forgotten. Instead of creating new institutions, those that exist should collaborate with the various organisations in the industry and work towards creating an equal and inclusive system.

Commission 3 was on the Disruption and Innovation in the Value Chain. It was clear from their presentation that the commission believed in the empowerment of young filmmakers by those who are experienced. It was suggested that all stakeholders in the industry should create hubs for the youth. These hubs would serve as mentorship programs and encourage skills development. The skills should be more “technocentric” as everyone was concerned about whether the South African Film Industry was ready for the 4th Industrial Revolution. They also touched on the importance of funding, something that Commission 4 was responsible for.

While commission 4 was specifically tasked with funding, all commissions touched on it. The transformation process requires funding. Issues surrounding the funding models and processes have been problematic for many in the industry. Basically, the industry requires funding models and systems that will support and maintain growth within the industry.

At the end of the Summit, the Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, expressed the value of having the Summit yearly. The reference group that was created is meant to stay together and meet quarterly. It is time for both the government and the industry to take the baton and move the transformation process. The conversations need not stop after the summit as the journey has officially began

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