Coming Soon to a Big Screen Near You: Film Lighting Masterclass
On Saturday the 16th of September, transformation consultancy BEE Novation and LED lights’ supplier PioLED Lighting will partner with Hollywood lighting director Christian Epps’s Lights, Camera, Diaspora! to deliver a feature film lighting workshop.
“The grassroots’ movie industry struggles to access appropriate movie lighting and develop experience procuring and using lights when they do have finances — leading to costly mistakes like extended production times, the misuse of equipment and missed opportunities,” says Guy Rouillard, the owner of PioLED Lighting. “BEE Novation guided our thinking to meet lighting end-users where they are using transformational levers like enterprise development. That’s why we’re sponsoring this workshop.”
But why the film industry? BEE Novation MD, Lee du Preez, “shed some light” on the importance of movie-making: “People relate to their environments through history in general and their stories in particular. It helps them own their circumstances by depicting them from different creative angles. Until they re-tell their stories in their own empowered words and ways, the beneficiaries of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment will miss many opportunities in their environments and lives.
“Movie-making changes that by creating jobs as entrepreneurial ventures, but also by its inherent artistic creativity. This will help beneficiaries become more than just ‘beneficiaries’ but co-storytellers, co-creators. Psychologically, this reconciles them with the humanity that apartheid tried to strip them of. Representation in film and film-making is essential.”
Hailed as a “Hollywood production guru” for over 30 years’ work in broadcast television, dance, live theatre, motion pictures and special events for the likes of Oprah, Michael Jackson, Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston and Boyz II Men, P. Diddy, Biggy Smalls, Queen Latifah, Me’Shell N’degeocello, TLC and many other great names. He has served as the gaffer on ‘SELMA’, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, and ‘Belly’, which was directed by the seminal music video director Hype Williams.
Epps has conducted these kinds of lighting workshops in Zimbabwe, Nigeria and other locations in Africa through his non-profit organization, Lights, Camera, Diaspora! He’s no stranger to KZN either, having hosted choreography lighting workshops at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in 2015.
Workshop attendants will get a glimpse into dramatic lighting insights that have been used by film directors such as Spike Lee, Hype Williams, Ava DuVernay, David Lowery and Ice Cube as well as corporate brands like Nike, IBM, Sprite, McDonald’s, Buena Vista Television, GE Capitol, Paramount Studios, Home Depot, ESPN, Buick, Kaiser Permanente, Amtrak and Panasonic.
“My mission and vision for Africa is to impart skills and knowledge, and also bring least one or two people up to a level where they are ready to conquer the film and entertainment industry and are confident enough to handle big brands across the globe. I am where I am because someone decided to mentor me, give me a chance and assist me to perfect my skills and grow my knowledge in the field. I believe it is more than necessary for me to do the same thing for another young upcoming film maker with the hopes of one day becoming a Technical Director in a big production.
“This cannot be achieved in a one-day session, of course. However, through organizations like the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission and PioLED in partnership with BEE Novation, this could be a start of something that will have a lasting impact,” he says.
“The KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission is excited to host Christian Epps, as he represents a rare set of skills we would like to see in our film makers. This session will be used to give filmmakers access to a Black Hollywood technician and demonstrate to those in the province that it is possible to build a career by specializing in a particular area of skill in the industry. We are happy to see Christian Epps in the province, and hope we can build on this initiative going forward,” says Carol Coetzee, CEO of the KZN Film Commission, which was established in accordance with the KZN Film Act No. 3 of 2010. One of its objectives is to address historical imbalances in the infrastructure and distribution of skills and resources in the film industry in the province.
The workshop couldn’t be a better fit, then. U.S-based lights’ supplier Litepanels will be sponsoring equipment. The workshop will run from 10:00 until 16:00 at UKZN’s Golf Road Campus at the Old Audio-Visual Building.
It would not have been possible to coordinate much of this without the help of Enactus UKZN students.