I’ve known Anel for a couple of years – and since then she has been someone who helps carry the South African film- scene on her back, and helps promote good quality South African films. An absolute raw beauty, and always friendly- and helpful, I treasure the relationship with Anel, I’m proud of her and what she helps produce, and she makes for such great viewing. Anel answered her questions according to her recent role in her movie “Sink”.
WHERE DO YOU RESIDE CURRENTLY – Johannesburg, South Africa
WHAT IS YOUR TITLE/JOB – Actress, and producer
WEBSITE LINK – www.scramble.co.za
FACEBOOK LINK –
TWITTER LINK –
INSTAGRAM LINK – @anelalexander1
What is YOU favourite thing about working in filmmaking, and are there any cons to it as well? James – my husband, and I always say it often feels like we are working in the ‘circus’! The entertainment industry is this wonderful, weird, dysfunctional family, but it is family none the less and I truly love the people.
Every now and again we also get to do really cool stuff and meet interesting people. I might not be a millionaire (yet!), but I’ve had the opportunity to walk down a red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, go on a cruise, travel through SA and all over the world, meet and interview some of our country’s top actors, musicians and artists …. All because of what I do.
The worst thing: Other than still getting paid what we got paid 10 years ago? The most frustrating thing for me is not getting to do excellent work in SA. A lot of what we do is very mediocre or just ‘good enough’, mainly because of money constraints. Time is money and in SA we never have either of the two which often means that people work their asses off to shoot at triple the time just to get a job done, rather than get a job right.
That being said, it is still amazing what South Africans in the arts get done considering our budget and time constraints, but I hate that we often have to supplement a statement about our work with: It is good…for a South African film/theatre piece/art work.
Did filmmaking, or acting find you? I have always been fascinated by the magic of theatre and film. I was that child that was writing my own theatre shows and rallying the neighbour’s kids to be in them since I can remember.
I also wanted to become too many things when I grew up: an astronaut, a veterinarian, the first female president of SA, and as an actress I get to pretend I’m all those things.
But more than that, I really believe in the power of the medium of media. Whether it is TV, film, radio or theatre, media is an incredibly powerful tool to tell stories with and challenge audiences.
That’s why I do what I do. I believe that if we as artists use that power for good, we can change the world.
Is producing films, or acting, an everyday practise for you, does it fill up your life? Our job is our hobby and our interest as well, which is the best and the worst thing. It just means that you unfortunately never switch off, because what is seen as ‘relaxation’ for most people (watching TV, going to the movies or theatre) is actually work for us.
Producing is also an incredibly time consuming job. Once I’m on a project, it pretty much consumes my life. I’m a passion project film producer so I throw my heart and soul into every film I do. My latest film ‘Sink’ is my newest ‘baby’ and although I don’t have kids, I think it’s a pretty accurate comparison. It’s a 24hr job, very intense in the first 2-3 years after which you kinda get a life again, but the movie-baby is always there. Also, just because you’ve had 1 movie-child, doesn’t necessarily mean that the next one will be easier. Each movie has it’s own personality and challenges that are unique to it.
Is there a certain trend you follow, and is competition a concern at all for you? I am probably the most uncool person I know, so I generally only find out something was/is a trend by the time it is long gone. But as film producers we were very much at the forefront of re-birthing the SA independent film industry and in that sense I guess we were definitely trend setters. More by default than intent, simply because there weren’t any trends to follow. When we made ‘Discreet’ in 2007 I think we were one of only 3 SA films that were produced that year. ‘Semi-Soet’ set a trend in the Afrikaans film industry, showing audiences and filmmakers alike that it was possible to produce local films in other genres than slapstick or with aids or apartheid as subject matter. And now with ‘Sink’ I believe we have raised the bar once again with what local and international audiences can expect from SA films.
‘Sink’ was nominated for 9 awards and won 5 at the recent Silwerskerm Film Festival, we were part of the official selection for the 40th Atlanta Film Festival, won Best Film at the Afrikaanse Culture Festival in Amsterdam and won the Jury Life prize at the Mexico International Film Festival. It has been really encouraging to enter the international market with an SA film and receive the kind of feedback we have.
I think if we as SA artists can find our own voice and truth in the work we do, our industry will become a force to be reckoned with internationally. At the moment we are still copying American or European trends, which I guess is natural since our industries are so small, but I really believe that if we become fearless in our work and the subject matters we tackle, rather than being so PC all the time which dilutes our stories, we will start producing work that will make the rest of the world sit up and notice.
Would you like to still be doing what you’re doing until the end of time? The scary thing about being an actress and a film producer is that your work is there until the end of time, into perpetuity and in all of the universe on all mediums existing and still to be invented (this is a genuine clause from our contracts!) for people to look at whenever they please. When I watch some of the acting stuff I did early on in my career I want to hang up my acting shoes for ever and go work on a chicken farm!
But I would like to think that as I mature as a person my work in front and behind the camera also evolves.
I love what I do and I know I will always be involved in media in some shape or form, whether it is through acting, script writing, producing or I’d love to branch out into journalism, I am a story teller and will always be one.
What is your most prized possession? Other than my husband and my two ridiculous doggies? I have produced 3 movies which has been the hardest but most rewarding thing I’ve done. Looking at the posters for, or holding the DVD’s of ‘Discreet’, ‘Semi-Soet’ and now ‘Sink’ in my hands is a cool feeling. A lot of blood, sweat, tears and sacrifices have gone into getting those 3 films made and the experiences and end-products are definitely close to my heart.
How alive is art still? Art will always be alive. Whether it gets appreciated is another story.
For the longest time we struggled to just get a film made in SA. Now we are making films. Lots of films. I would love to see us make better films now. Quality vs quantity.
Do you believe in collaboration, WOULD you like to collaborate in the future with other artists? I love the collaborative effort that film making is. Every time I do a film I marvel at what a huge team effort it is to make a film and that it is actually a complete miracle every time we get it done. And then if you get it right as well, it’s an even bigger miracle! Every thing, every element has to work at that exact moment in time for a shot or scene to work. The actor needs to give a good performance, the camera man has to do his job, the sound has to work, the make-up and hair needs to be just right, the lighting, the location, the props etc etc. Everything has to come together during development, principal photography and then in post production for the end product to work.
So one of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt as a producer is: Surround yourself with people that make you look good and force you to up your game.
In the film industry collaboration is everything.
What do you feel, completes an amazing entertainment event, or episode? I am a big fan of excellence. People doing what they do in an exceptional way, whether it is playing tennis, driving an F1 car, making a vase or dancing a pas de deux. I love seeing people do what they were born to do. Usually it is effortless and even more appealing when done with a humble spirit which is often the case with people that are truly talented.
As a performer myself I am naturally critical of other people’s work. The way I know I’ve just witnessed something amazing is if I can immerse myself in a movie or theatre show without starting to dissect the product. If I become aware of a certain element not working whether it is the script, an actor’s performance, the way a film has been edited or a singer being off pitch, then you’ve lost me.
Anel….is amazing. She answered these so honestly, and even though maybe my blog, hasn’t reached the audience yet it should, her produced films have reached much further beyond, and as a country we can so proud to call her our own.
Read more about Anel, and “Sink” here: