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The Maestro Film Project

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The South African film industry, due to its inability to handle American Film Imperialism and put in place effective strategies to develop the South African film industry, has been virtually stagnant for decades. Arguably the most serious challenge, as often highlighted in research, is of ‘an industry fighting against the Hollywood machine’. The question that immediately comes to mind is: How does the United States manage to maintain world film domination? Although the SA film industry was established before Hollywood came into existence, the United States today accounts for 75 per cent of the world’s feature film market, while South Africa accounts for less than 1 per cent. This places an obligation on SA film-makers to design a turn-around strategy. During the 1980s when the French film industry (which pioneered motion pictures) was struggling, having encountered the same problem, a project similar to that advocated in this article, was initiated by the Minister of Culture, Jack Lang. French President Francois Mitterrand increased financial aid to the French film industry and the film Jean de Florette (Berrie, 1986) was produced. Jean de Florette attained commercial and critically acclaimed success and it is still making money to this day. In the United States Jean de Florette was hailed as the best foreign language film of 1986 and it went on to win numerous international awards. Jean de Florette was in 2010, for example, hailed by Empire Magazine as ranked no. 60 of the 100 best films of world cinema (Wikipedia 2014). In The Maestro Film Project, a partial solution to the deplorable state of feature film production in South Africa will be put forward. Although a total turn-around strategy is multi-dimensional and extremely complex, a step in the right direction would be to produce a three-dimensional artefact-driven film model (feature film, 50 instructional DVDs and 50 articles) that; identifies existing artistic communication codes (some 300) that influence the dramatic impact of a film and captures each one in an instructional DVD; researches these codes to gain an understanding of how they contribute to increasing a film’s dramatic impact; and implements, in a feature film, these codes using the best film-makers in South Africa (maestros) to test their efficacy. This model, as an instructional tool, will be unique in the world as no such project has ever been produced. The closest to it would be ‘the making of’ productions frequently seen on television. The major difference is that these productions have a promotional objective with very little instructional value (the prime objective of the 50 instructional DVDs). First, the model can be used by experienced film-makers to gain insight and second, to train future film-makers who, in time, will contribute to the development of the SA film industry.

Keywords: NFVF; SA film industry; TUT; artistic codes; dramatic impact; film model

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Tshwane University of Technology

Publication date: March 1, 2014

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