‘It shaped the way we see art:’ Mpumalanga trainees who worked on ‘Black Is King’

Beyonce’s film Black Is King not only featured some of SA’s most notable artists, including the late Mary Twala and Busiswa Gqulu, but some youths from Mpumalanga also got the opportunity of a lifetime behind the scenes.

Beyonce had described the work as a “labour of love” that now serves “a greater purpose” than its original role as a companion piece to “The Lion King: The Gift,” given the current sociopolitical climate.
Image: Robyn Beck / AFP

Lights, Camera, Diaspora (LCD), a non-profit social enterprise which helps connect local and international production talent, told TshisaLIVE that it collaborated with Millicent Skosana of the Kangala district. This led to an introduction with Limco Management and Consulting who are responsible for mentoring the trainees.

Skosana was one of the SA Local Government Association (Salga) representatives to a workshop held in San Francisco, US, last year.

LCD says when it was initially invited to be part of Black Is King, they were made to sign a non-disclosure and were unable to tell the trainees who they would be working for.

In the first three days, the film was shot in KwaZulu-Natal and later in Johannesburg, where the 10 trainees joined the production. The trainees helped in the lighting and grip departments.

Simphiwe Skosana said she learnt a lot from the experience.

“I assisted the lighting department with the manipulation of lights, moving around of the equipment and assisted the department with cleaning the equipment as well as changing and charging of the batteries.”

She said she will use the experience she gained from the show’s production in her future pursuits in the film industry. Simphiwe worked alongside acclaimed cinematographer, Michael Fernandez.

Another trainee, photography student Sbusiso Mathebula, said he was inspired by the project.

“Black Is King really shaped my way of understanding art. The locations we used were perfectly chosen and to see how they used them showed me how I can go about being a filmmaker. It had a lot of creative elements in telling our stories as black people. Our uniqueness was showcased.”

LCD says the project helped it achieve one of its goal.

“We are combining some of the best talent across the US and Africa and we’re also doing skills developments at the same time. It’s both educational and hands-on, which is the best way to learn in the film industry,” it said in a statement.

TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)

BY CEBELIHLE BHENGU

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