Up-and-coming filmmaker Nompumelelo Tshabalala has a good sense of humour, as well as a fine eye for a great scene.
This humour came out clearly in Look at Me Now, her reality-style series that won South Africa’s Next Top Filmmaker Award in 2012, and which starred celebrity stylist and socialite Iko Mash “arresting” unsuspecting men in shopping malls as “fashion offenders” and giving them an instant makeover.
Tshabalala’s prize was a year’s internship with Quizzical Pictures; the following year she won an Afrinolly Best Picture Award for a short film she had written.
Tshabalala, 32, originally studied acting, but her real talent lies behind the camera. She’s currently the creative producer at Ludonga Media; her skills include concept development, researching, scriptwriting, content creation, management and production, and other behind-the-scenes budgeting and post-production work.
Tshabalala says the biggest surprise of her career has been transitioning from film, drama and reality TV to sports coverage. She has thrived in the sports industry, producing shows such as the Olympic magazine show Road to Tokyo, a behind-the-scenes look at the Lions cricket team and profiling athletes such as Akani Simbine, Wayde van Niekerk and Tatjana Schoenmaker.
Along the way, she’s learned some hard lessons through making the wrong decisions about which projects to tackle; now she’s learned to follow her instincts.
Tshabalala describes storytelling as her water and daily bread, and she’s working to ensure South African films dominate the box office. As part of this, she wants to supply film and drama schools with high quality material for their productions so they can learn more about the craft.
She also wants the government to recognise the entertainment industry as a key economic sector and support it appropriately. Months of Covid-19 lockdown reminded everyone just how vital a good supply of online entertainment is, she says.