Namibian film-maker Florian Schott, who has won multiple awards, advises aspiring and established local film-makers to incorporate stories exclusive to Namibia in their work to succeed in the industry.
Since joining the film industry in 2002, Schott has progressed from trainee positions to script supervisor, first assistant director and finally director.
“I have experience working on films all around the world, from Europe to the United States (US), Africa, South America and even the Antarctic.”
Schott says film has led him to Namibia, which has become his home.
He also attempts to assist other film-makers in telling their tales or finding distribution channels, he says.
Schott says Namibian film-makers need to develop stories that are different to those of their peers and specific to Namibia to compete on the global stage.
“You don’t get to see these stories in South Africa, Nigeria, or anywhere else in the world. Naturally, due to their larger population, we won’t be able to regularly secure funding for higher-budget films, but if we produce distinctive, human stories that set our films apart from others on the continent, I’m confident there will be a market for them,” he says.
Schott says he intends to concentrate on stories that are both original and financially feasible.
Seeing his three Namibian films screen at international festivals and having the opportunity to travel with them and see them with audiences from around the globe was one of his greatest professional triumphs, he says.
“Winning the 2014 Afrinolly Short Film Competition in Nigeria with the film ‘Everything Happens for a Reason’ was my first international award,” Schott says.
He says the film was a labour of love, on which he collaborated with other film-makers and decided to shoot a short film in a single take.
“I self-financed it and cashed in on all the favours I did other film-makers,” he says.
Schott’s well-received movie ‘Katutura’, which has won seven Namibian Theatre and Picture Awards, was undoubtedly important to him, he says.
“’Katutura’ gave me the opportunity to work with a large Namibian cast and crew from Namibia and South Africa,” he says.
Schott says he wanted to create a film that was different.
“I was also blessed to attend multiple of the over 40 festivals worldwide with my other film, ‘Baxu and the Giants’, which was definitely a highlight.”
The film was the first from Namibia to be featured on Netflix.
It was produced in association with Girley Jazama and Andrew Botelle, featuring Camilla Jo-Ann Daries (9).
“This is my most personal film, not only moving it out of Windhoek into other parts of the country, but also doing it with a completely local crew, with a storyline aimed at children and teenagers and dealing with an important environmental cause,” Schott says.
He has travelled to the US, South Africa, Nigeria and Poland, among other countries, to present the film, he says.
The most challenging aspect of Schott’s two decades of filming was securing financing, he says.
“Ideas abound, but producing films is costly and securing funding for them is extremely difficult.”
Schott says he is currently working on four feature films, including ‘African Relativity’, a comedy he is developing in Namibia, which tackles a number of local social concerns in addition to time travel.
He says he is currently also working on a movie about a heist that takes place in an African city.
“We are also currently working on a historical drama film, as well as a project that is a survival drama set in the Sahara Desert. I’m developing all these films and I am hoping that one of them would go into production before the year ends,” Schott says.
He promises to direct more films in Europe in addition to working on his own projects.
“I directed a television thriller in Denmark and Germany last year and it was fantastic working with a great cast and crew and I do like sinking my teeth into projects I didn’t initiate.”
Beyond that, Schott says he intends to carry on collaborating with Namibian film-makers to create additional regional productions.
He says MultiChoice Namibia and the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation commissioned some amazing films last year.
“It was also a great way to tell stories about Namibia, get local actors and crew paid for their work, and give them a platform to showcase their talent.”
Schott says he hopes more funding would be made available for Namibian films and television shows.
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