Jameson First Shot is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will cherish forever. I had so many highlights during my time in the competition, but I think playing Ping-Pong with Willem Dafoe between takes and attending my own premiere in Johannesburg are definitely up there!
The competition has given me incredible exposure and has been a huge boon to my career, so I'll definitely be able to take on my next project with more confidence.
However, it hasn't just helped me as a filmmaker; it has also been a life-enriching experience. In terms of what’s next for me, I've just finished my first feature film and I have the next one in development, so things are busy! I would advise this year’s entrants to write something that they would want to see, not something they think the judges would want to see. Also watch the budget, but having said that, you'd be surprised at how beneficial restrictions can be to your imagination. Above all have fun with it!
Jameson First Shot was fun, fast and intense, but I got to make my film in the way I wanted to make it with an incredible professional team and great actors. The directing experience I gained was priceless – I directed Willem Dafoe in my short film! I think the competition has been invaluable for giving me a chance at making it in this industry – it’s already got me a lot of meetings and enabled me to start conversations about new projects. At the moment I have two complete feature scripts and I'm currently in talks with a couple of producers about making one of them. If I was going to give any advice for this year’s entrants I would say write a script as if you are going to make it all by yourself. Keep it simple. And write from your heart.
"I GOT THE CHANCE TO WORK WITH THE BEST OF THE BEST AND NOW THAT I'VE GOTTEN A TASTE OF IT, I'M HUNGRY FOR MORE"
The whole experience was like a rollercoaster ride where at first it makes you sick to your stomach, but at the end wish you never had get off. To be honest, there are too many highlights to only pick one. Of course, having the opportunity to work with Willem Dafoe and be able to watch his process and the amount of detail he carries with him in a film was incredible. Very rarely do you get to watch a master at work, let alone direct that master.
For me, I think it was also just the awe of walking on set and seeing the arsenal of professional crew, actors and equipment all there to bring the vision of your film to life. Getting to work with fame composer Chris Young (he has an amazing collection of jack-o-lanterns!) and doing the sound design on the Fox Studio lot was like going to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Jameson First Shot truly made me feel like I had won the golden ticket.
The competition gave me a chance to show my work to a mass of people – I've had short films shown at festivals and if I was lucky 100 people might see it, but the short I made for the competition has had over a million hits on YouTube. It’s insane; I've never had such a huge audience receive my work. That’s the power of a competition like this – with a big brand like Jameson behind it you get both an educational and confidence boosting experience as well as a platform to showcase your work to millions. I got the chance to work with the best of the best and now that I've gotten a taste of it, I'm hungry for more. Jameson First Shot gave me the reassurance of my dream and trust in myself and my creative choices. I could not have asked for a better gift for my career.