As the Gauteng Film Commission continues to support and showcase authentic stories, the appointment of a new acting CEO sees the organisation gearing up to change the face of Gauteng’s audio-visual industry for the better.
Following five years as a senior manager in the Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, and over 20 years of experience in the sector, Shane Maja is the new acting CEO of the Gauteng Film Commission (GFC). Maja, who has replaced Simangele Sekgobela, joins the organisation with a keen interest in both continuing the work of the GFC, which includes project funding, audience development, and skills and development training, as well as focusing his time and energy on specific programmes. Increasing access to mainstream distribution for aspiring filmmakers and content creators is one of his first priorities.
‘The majority of content creators, their content is on their phones, it’s on their laptops. The issue is with distribution. There is enough content being produced in the informal sector, but we now need to take it to the mainstream and provide market access, especially to the youth,’ says Maja. ‘We currently give support to the entire value chain, from preproduction to marketing and distribution, this include skills development and enterprise development, but we plan on extending that support in the near future.’
With the prevalence of digital streaming technologies and their increased usage in our daily lives, the audio visual sector needs to ensure that it’s up to speed. Maja explains that the GFC aims to not only incorporate current technologies into its strategic vision, but ensure that it stays ahead of the technological curve going ahead.
‘We need to invest in technology, too. Technology can close the gap between means of communication, and at the GFC we believe that our role is not just about providing funding, but it’s also about closing the gap in communication between Africa and the world,’ he says.
Structures that promote independent film across the country, such as the Joburg Film Festival and Africa Rising International Film Festival, are also of extreme importance to the industry at large and Maja explains that the GFC will continue to prioritise such partnerships and continue to provide their support.
‘The Joburg Film Festival will be a platform for all other initiatives and organisations of the audio-visual industry to come together,’ he says. ‘This year’s festival will be very exciting, and will serve as a brilliant example of the work being done in this industry.’
Partnering with government and businesses alike is another top priority for Maja and the GFC going forward. With Gauteng being home to such a wealth of storytelling platforms, such as its various production houses, theatres and more, the need to further extend those platforms to the viewing public is a necessity.
‘The GFC will be doing a lot more government-to-business, and government-to-government initiatives. Something like the State Theatre, which is a home of production and storytelling – the GFC needs to transform that content for mainstream television. The idea is to have a platform like a theatre channel which could be a part of a bouquet on DSTV, for example,’ explains Maja. ‘Gauteng has the biggest infrastructure of storytelling and what the GFC needs to start doing is transforming those resources into mainstream channels of distribution and access, which is something I’m very excited about.’
For Maja, who is currently pursuing his Master’s in Cultural Policy and Management at the University of the Witswatersrand, explains that a sound knowledge of value chain of the film and television sector – creation, production, distribution, and consumption – is crucial.
‘Cultural policy looks at the value chain of the cultural economy, the domain of the creative economy, and it puts in place systems of research and development to ensure that this sector becomes a contributor to the creative economy, not just for job creation, which is a huge challenge in this country, but also to inject positivity into the economy.’
Finally, Maja explains that as the ‘big brother’ of the country, Gauteng leads the way in film and television, and that the GFC will follow suit.
‘That’s how I see the GFC – we must lead in cultural policy, in film initiatives, destinations, maintenance of our infrastructure, heritage, and pop-culture,’ concludes Maja. ‘If you understand the domains of the cultural economy, and how the creative economy is contributing to the GDP of this province and this country, that’s where the GFC will complement cultural policy and management with the business of filmmaking and audiovisual initiatives.’
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