Lo-Def Film Factory: high five!

When I was 12, I think roller-skating for three metres without my face meeting tar was my greatest achievement. By the time I was 20, um, ja-no, still the roller-skating feat.

When you realise that the artists of the Lo-Def Film Factory primarily come from this teen/young adult age group it’s impressive. What a fresh friggen hurrah to creative problem solving.

The trendy idea of film school to my freshly-matriculated mind was thwarted by it requiring way too many cash dollas, even for a kid from a well-enough-to-do home. Super upper top elites only, thank you. Democratising anything sounds good. Creating accessible everything sounds even better. So applause must be given to Amy Louise Wilson and Francois Knoetze, the team behind the Lo-Def Film Factory, a project set up to mentor and train budding film makers. We knew we liked them, having experienced their skill and craft before (if you’re interested, read here and here).

Whenever those naysayers are blasting their bugles about how the arts are not essential… point them in the direction of Lo-Def’s young artists-in-the-making. But actually, they’re not future artists. They’re Now Artists.

They’re creatively responding to their times, which are our times too by the way. When we want to understand what’s happening in the world we turn to our artists. To understand history, we examine events through cultural artefacts and objects and examine how the artists were thinking and practicing.

Again I ask: are the arts not essential?

Channel hopping through the 16 short films (most are approximately five minutes, some briefer, some longer) I was pleasantly impressed with these young people. We’ve got all these separate youth Forum-this, League-that etcetera, and we need to drop all that because they should be leading us old asses in how to view the world. Check the news on how we’re going about it all; we’re not doing so fine a job.

Naturally some episodes spoke more to me than others. That’s life, it’s subjective. But as a collective their impact speaks louder. Each eclectically unique ‘channel’ works to complement and balance the others. Some are comical, some are quirky, some refreshing, some poignant, some totally bizarre. No fancy software or hardware are employed to whizz bang pop the films – just good old fashioned creative thinking has produced these gems.

Old school box TV. New school ideas.

I won’t list each short work’s merit but rather reflect on what viewing their brave boldness reminded me to do:

Wonder at the small things: how did the flowers get their colour? Perhaps that helpful duo of the butterfly and rainbow had a part to play.

Be one with the trees and chase your happiness.

Check in on your friends: a hug can help any situation, but whilst we can’t be hugging, reach out to say I Love You.

YOLO! Dance where and when you can and however the flip you want.

Music is important: sing it, rap it, lipsync if you want. Just let go and feel your soul light up.

Take chances. But check the facts. Live loud and proud. And educate yourself.

Keep dreaming of that world where we don’t need passports because there aren’t borders, where we don’t need electricity because everything’s solar powered, where there’s no crime because everyone respects each other. Change starts with a dream.

It was interesting to note how pervasively TV’s influence plants its roots. It’s no revelation to point that out especially as the Film Factory is, well, film. Several of the young artists chose to present content in the form of news reporting, talk shows, and reality talent shows. Telly Fun Quiz was about as engaged as I was with the latest news at that age; books were more my thing anyhooo. So all the more high-fives to a generation engaging with and really thinking about the world around them.

To all the artists involved: well done, it’s quite wonderful.

To you, dear reader: drop your plans for the next hour or so… Go, get in the box to witness what out the box can be.

Experience the Lo-Def Film Factory here.


The filmmakers are: Peacemore Patsika, Victor Jakara, Gomez Bakwene, Paulina Bisala, Lionel Zolo, Nathan Nkwamga, Jeremiah Ndala, Stembiso Sibanda, Milene Verwey, Zia Francis, Halo Verwey, Quincy Vearey, Lisa Makumese, Nandi Tavares Calburn.

The Lo-Def Film Factory is a participatory community cinema initiative created by artist Francois Knoetze and performer/writer Amy Louise Wilson.

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