SA filmmakers 'lack confidence'

2012-04-03 07:27
Shaheema Barodien
Cape Town - South African director Jonathan Liebesman believes his fellow SA filmmakers lack the confidence to make it big internationally.

Liebesman, whose latest blockbuster film Wrath of the Titans opened at cinemas worldwide this weekend, spoke exclusively to Channel24 from London where he attended the film's premiere.

"I feel like everything we think that everything from overseas is better," he said, "which is such a load of shit. SA is 20 times better than anything in America."

"It's not that South African horror films aren't that good it's just that South Africans just feels as if they're not good enough - which is just such a lot of bullshit.

"Look at Mexico - they're a similar country [to SA] and they have such a great film industry and have great storytellers. There are so many successful Mexican directors like Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron and [Alejandro González] Innaritu."

'We're better'

Liebesman, who is based in Hollywood and is best known for films such as Battle: Los Angeles and Darkness Falls, said he didn't believe budget constraints were a factor.

"It's a lack of confidence. I'm telling you, South Africans are not confident in ourselves. We feel like we're shit for some reason - and we're not.

"We should just realise that we're better. When Neill Blomkamp made District 9 he didn't give a fuck he just did it.

"Young filmmakers can just make short films and put them on Youtube. People [who do that], if their films are good, two weeks later they are meeting people in Hollywood and giving them the money to make the movie they want to make."

Break through internationally

He further said that South African filmmakers need to be as confident about their stories and films as they are on the sport field.

"I thought at first it was only people like me who grew up in the apartheid era and there was a lot of guilt and you felt awful. We just have to believe in ourselves, like we do with sport."

However, Liebesman was confident that more local filmmakers would break through internationally soon.

"It's just a matter of time," he said. "There's definitely some young kid with a camera who's going to make a little movie that's gonna be massive. "

Liebesman, and AFDA graduate who was born in Johannesburg, says he hasn't lost his roots and still watches the cricket and the rugby whenever it's on.

Wrath of the Titans debuted in the No 2 at the US box office this weekend with $34m.

Liebesman is lined up to film a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film which is being produced by Michael Bay.



  • Stanley - 2012-04-03 08:14

    You hit the nail right on it's head Jonathan.Even the Nigerian film industry is beter than our's.The problem is that we as South Africans our trying too hard to emulate the Americans,that's why the youht thinks that twanging makes them sound beter when speaking english.Everything we do in terms of entertainment is to be like the Americans,and it makes me sick.We can't even come up with our own original reality shows,we just take the American shows and make a South African version of it.We really don't believe that we can do it beter!

  • CharlesDumbwin - 2012-04-03 08:14

    That's only part of the problem. Film makers have a number of challenges in SA: - Quality of actors to pull of major character roles - Budgets the size of an Easter egg - Serious lack of creativity - Serious lack of experience when trying to immortalize a story onto film. Seems some directors just don't know what is good or bad cinema.

      Sylvain - 2012-04-03 08:22

      I have been working in the film business for 26 years and I completely disagree with you. There are plenty of great actors in SA, South Africans are amongst the most creative and imaginative artists. As for the budgets, this will improve when people stop thinking like you do. Let's forget about Americans and make our own stories!

      dexter.sagar - 2012-04-03 08:31

      I agree with you mostly. Budget means nothing with films like Paranormal Activity or Bellflower get made with basically nothing compared to the main blockbuster Michael Bay flop. I think there's a lack of standard, and/or an attempt to cultivate these filmmakers to not go back to traditionally South African filmmaking techniques or studio television techniques...

  • Sylvain - 2012-04-03 08:15

    He is right. There is so much talent in SA. South African should believe in their artists, filmmakers, musicians and support them. So should the private sector. Culture is an investment not a spending....and a much better investment than stocks!

  • darkinjail - 2012-04-03 08:20

    South Africa posess GREAT potential in becomming one of the worlds biggest film industry, i think the ''lack in confidence'' is a result of the south african film industry ''limiting new creativity'' maybe i guess to respond to myself it's again the result of ''lack in confidence hence the need of not wanting to taste new waters!!!

  • lytteot7 - 2012-04-03 09:01

    Since Jonathan has some experience of making blockbusters in hollywood I think he should come home, make a proudly south african movie with local actors that can breakthrough internationally. Though Safe House is an american movie it was nice seeing 98% of it shot at home, it could have been more great if it was done by local director with most local actors in key roles.

  • Matome - 2012-04-03 09:04

    this is nonsense. the problem with SA film industry is the lack of support from private business and government. there are lot of people who want to tell their own stories but they dont have financial support. if filmamkers lacked the confidence, we wouldnt have the numbers of scripts that are writen is this country year on year. get your facts right before you speak sir, especially when you speak to foreign media.

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