The Reel Media on the lens
The age-old adage that ‘It’s a man’s world’ is fast becoming just that, a line used to confine women to the kitchen while men are encouraged to go into the world and make things happen.
Be that as it may, the statement does not apply to 32-year-old wife and mother, Lebogang Mpofu and 32-year-old Durvie Morake; two women who have overcome trials and tribulations to create perhaps one of most competitive lady-driven film production company in Botswana, The Reel Media, in a predominantly male-led profession.
The Patriot Woman sat down with the two enterprising women who are seemingly not fazed by the task at hand – to rise to the highest possible point locally and on the global stage.
First was the name of the company. The reel is a film industry term used to describe the cylinder on which film is wound. On the other hand, the sound of the word could be interpreted to mean real, legitimate – not a far off interpretation as the two ladies pride themselves in telling authentic Batswana stories.
Between the two of them, they have over eight years training experience in the industry under the tutelage of Dee Zone Productions’ Thabiso Maretlwaneng, Afentse Lekolwane of Botswood and many other industry experts.
They have competed, whilst with Maretlwaneng, at the 48-hour film festival in New Orleans in the USA where they showcased their 10-minute production ‘DOZO’. The short film was about an African super hero ‘A modern day African Superman if you will’, Morake adds with a chuckle.
Unflinching, Mpofu reveals that she took the bold decision to quit her job whilst pregnant, to forge a path that eventually led to the birth of the Reel Media.
She, together with her business partner, Morake also took the strategic decision to have the other keep her employment at Botswood where they worked together, with Mpofu heading the Production of the studio while Morake was the Head of Post of editing.
“After working on many projects in production companies such as Deezone Productions, a local film and television production company where we first met, our career growth took us to Botswood,” she recalls, adding that they then realised that they had enough experience, some of which was gathered from working on productions such as ‘Botshelo Jo’, which aired on Botswana Television, ‘Dry Bones’ as well as season II of the hilarious sketch ‘Beauty’, to open their own enterprise and produce authentic stories of their own.
The journey obviously couldn’t have been easy – two novices, one pregnant and out of work and another hanging on to employment to advance their joint dream. The duo remembers one time shooting a series of events in Selibe-Phikwe. Mpofu was heavily pregnant and had to endure shooting extra hours, compiling material, not getting enough rest, travelling the long distance to and from the area and dealing with pregnancy hormones at the same time.
“It was not easy, but I knew why I was there and where I wanted the company to go,” she recalls.
To date, the company founded in 2017 and registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA), has grown to tell stories of women in Botswana through productions such as a Drama series titled ‘Mojwadi’.
The storyline hinges on family, marriage, betrayal and love, all aspects of life that a woman goes through. The company has also produced a short film titled ‘Moipolai’, a story about a young woman’s life choices that ended up determining her future.
‘The Storm’ is a film detailing the troubles women go through once they broke up with the fathers of their children, an old scenario that has earned such women the appellation ‘Baby Mama’.
Perhaps the most in touch with our time is the company’s latest production, ‘Madimabe’, a story focusing on the world’s most disturbing crime, sexual abuse. The duo explains that women, both young and old, are predominantly on the receiving end of the crime. Their story aims to highlight the thorn in women’s flesh the world over with particular interest to stories of Batswana women.
“Being women, we are better placed to tell the untold stories of women, especially in our community, Botswana. We can reveal their scars and heal them through these stories,” explains Morake, who also believes the stories will inspire victims to realise their situations and seek help.
Speaking to an assertion made by Creative Consultant, Creative Director and Industry Expert Allison Triegaardt at the recent Botswana MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTC) Masterclass, that the characters in film stories make viewers stay loyal to the project, Mpofu and Morake were in total agreement.
“Actually, the statement couldn’t be any truer; we are really stringent when it comes to creating and allocating characters to actors,” chips in Mpofu. She explains that character and actor matching can make or break the production.
“We have in more cases than one, had to swap characters after auditions because the actors’ personal characters showed they could play the other part better,” adds Morake.
Looking to the future, the pair believes the world film stage will be their oyster as they tell impactful stories from Botswana.