Thobe Gumede—Producing Films is my life

  • Tell us about yourself, where you grew up, and your family.

I grew up in a place then called kwaMahlomeka and because of the negative connotations the name carried, it was later changed to Ikhwezi (EKhwezini).

  • Does your family know about your sexual orientation, is it important to be out?

Yup, they do. I had to come out and I only realised then how important coming out was, in so many ways. 1 love the freedom to be completely yourself around your family. The source that prepares you for the world.

  • When did you realise you had a passion for filming.

Honestly I don’t remember the exact time when I realised but I know when I was young I wanted to be ON television as a presenter/actor but an interest developed when I saw the behind the scenes of Generations and related to Mfundi Vundla’s urge to tell stories about successful black people. I actually referred to Generations as our South African Bold and the Beautiful.

  • Where did you study and give a brief overview of where you have worked.

I studied Television Production a.k.a Video Technology at The Durban University of Technology, while doing my second year I worked part time for Kuluma TV (online video magazine company) producing inserts, I later went on to Clash of the Choirs Season 2, as well as Big Brother Mzansi as an assistant audience coordinator, while doing that I would partly work for Inkanyiso organisation as a photographer.

  • Your proudest achievement in the filming field.

In film there is still a long way to go but my proudest achievements are graduating with a diploma in Video Technology as well as being accepted to the 2018 FITI program (Film Industry Transformation Initiative) which aims to escalate KZN film graduates to HOD positions in the Industry.

  • Any special projects that you are working on, whether personal or for work.

There are so many and for the respect of my work confidentiality policy I’m not at liberty to disclose the films that are in preproduction, but my work involves giving production support to filmmakers filming in KZN. Liaising between Filmmakers, both local and international, and facility owners for the filming process to go smoother.

  • Challenges that you had to overcome in your career.

The notion of proving your worth twice or in my case 3times: 1 as a homosexual, a black person and a woman. Hard working is part of my DNA now.

The race issue also affects my work directly, when I have to recommend crew, first preference is given to black women but a majority of them lack experience that white men have obtained over the years. So the challenge is to find the balance in empowering black women by recommending KZN crew and still remain fair and non-racist without compromising the quality of the film that is being produced.

I’m in the process of overcoming these challenges as the number of black filmmakers is growing.

  • What does one need to study to be a filmmaker?

As much as I don’t like to say this but a good command in English is still relevant to express yourself on a global level. Also an urge to tell a particular story or stories. Maths and Science are just recommended to have an advantage technically. Otherwise film is about telling stories through visual media.

  • If you were not a filmmaker, what career would you have chosen?

A teacher. That was my first interest merely because my mother was a teacher, until I grew up to have my own opinions and convictions about life in general.

  • Any advice for young aspiring filmmakers?

Look around you, find a story, and start writing it immediately. There’s a shortage of writers not only in KZN but globally. There’s endless opportunities in writing. For the ones that are interested in the technical side of things, start shooting video clips with your phone and share them on Facebook then review viewership. Oh and also apply for film courses at your nearest institutions.

  • As cliché as it sounds but where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Producing, producing, producing films non-stop.

BY UNIQ REPORTER