#PristineChat: Filmmaker Ts’episo Mahase
Young African filmmakers continue to make strides in advancing the participation of Africans in telling African stories. Ts’episo is only getting started, and her plan is to continue being a story teller.
Who is Ts’episo Mahase and what inspired your love for film?
I am a Mosotho woman who likes films and books. My love for filmmaking was realized probably in 2009/2010 when I was in high school, but just as a viewer. I was 12. After school I’d rent one of those 3 in 1 DVDs weekly and on Fridays my mom would treat me to 5 in 1s.
Tell us about the film Grapefruit? What was the inspiration behind the story?
Grapefruit is an exploration of lovers who have a fetish for human flesh. The grapefruit is symbolism for human flesh. The inspiration behind it was honestly an opening shot I had envisioned and the history of cannibalism in Lesotho.
How was the process for you as a producer and director, to bring the conception of a story to real life? What are some of the hurdles you faced when working on Grapefruit?
It was pretty challenging. It would have been ideal to have a bigger crew, but budget was not really on our side. We had to reach out to people in our network and the funds I raised had to be used very wisely, so nothing went to waste. I was fortunate to work with people who didn’t give me a hard time and we all had the best time filming. It was really a cathartic experience as a first time director/producer. I spent a lot of time planning, so we got to enjoy what we were doing. In post-production there was a moment when I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking of all the things we could have done differently, which resulted in me changing the entire edit a week prior to the release on Vimeo. It was a necessary decision, but I had to learn the hard way.
With the recent success of Black Panther a lot of attention has been thrust on Africans culture and ensuring that it is appreciated not appropriated. How important is it to you to have Basotho stories told, as well as the significance of representation?
It is very important. As a nation we have the talent, stories, ingenuity, but something that is lacking is funding. Availability of funding can help create an industry that is sustainable as it aids with access to equipment, international platforms such as film festivals, education, marketing etc. Even though there is a lot of attention on Africa right now, there is still a disconnect. We are being sold this idea that Africa is the future, as if us coming into our own is something that is not attainable right now. Sort of like “your turn will come, just not now”, but who decides that? If we invest in ourselves and don’t wait until vultures involve themselves like they usually do, we stand a better chance at actually being our own industry. Japan and Korea are able to do that for their market and industry.
Any notable filmmakers you look up to?
Directors, Steve McQueen, Terrence Malick and Andrea Arnold. Cinematography also plays a big role and I enjoy the works of Emmanuel Lubezki, Reed Morano, Hoyte van Hoytema and Adam Newport-Berra, as well as Es Devlin the set designer.
Future plans for Ts’episo, the film maker?
Well, the plan is to keep making more films.
Her advice : “If you would like to leap into filmmaking, try as many things as you can and see which one interests you the most. If you are fortunate enough to go to film school, take that route. There is plenty of material online to assist you, like nofilmschool.com and masterclass etc. Equip yourself and learn the technical stuff very well. It will save you.
GRAPEFRUIT (Short film)
By: Mantsebeng Maepe