Aspiring film-maker from Richmond, Andile Mthembu is making waves with his Zulu language feature films.
His is a unique story… starting out with nothing but his wits, a passion for movies and determination to make it, Mthembu (28) has progressed from making amateurish films without sound to polished products on DVD some of which are being snapped up by his fans.
Mthembu, who attended Huba High School in Richmond, told The Meander Chronicle that when he started out he used a camera he borrowed from a local who filmed weddings.
People used to laugh at him.
“They said I was making Richmond a laughing stock with my films. That people from other provinces were laughing at our town. But my family and my neighbours kept me going. They supported me and would encourage me, giving constructive criticism, asking to borrow my DVDs and showing them to friends.
“Now it’s different, people in the community recognise me. I am selling copies of my DVDs. I will always stay loyal to my crew.”
I will always stick with them
Mthembu has a group of actors who have stuck by him, working for free. He writes the scripts, sends them to the actors and they prepare for shooting.
“I will always stick with them. When I get my big break, I will take them with me,” he said.
The director, who also acts in his own films, has written loads of scripts and recently produced an exciting short film titled Nephew – with impressive production and a racy plot – that is being kept under wraps, as Mthembu plans to enter it into a film competition.
He also has a background in drama, which he studied at school, and was at one stage heavily into hip hop. The hip hop influence can be heard in parts of his films. He enjoys local and international films, naming Jerusalema, Tsotsi and some of the Marvel and DC movies as influences. His stories focus on local issues and are all told in isiZulu.
Mthembu got a boost when the owner of a company he was working for, Robertson’s Bedding in Richmond, heard talk about an employee in the warehouse who was making films.
He spoke to Mthembu and has been supporting him, shopping his product around and promoting his work.
Through Kim Robertson’s contacts, Mthembu landed a job with a company which develops websites and video stock content based in Hilton. His boss, Alistair Cotton, says what impressed him about the young film-maker was what he had achieved with so little.
“Here was a guy from Richmond making movies, with no training, and no budget to talk of. If someone can achieve so much with so little, just imagine what he could achieve with just a little backing.”
His main job at Global Latitude is to shoot and edit stock video for the company’s growing customer base. He is also polishing up his editing and production skills, using leading software and technology.
His future plans?
“To make bigger movies, not to leave my crew behind. I always say to the people who work with me, ‘Don’t mind the haters; as long as you know what you want to achieve and stay focused, we will get there.’” – By Garth Johnstone