When the film industry slumped, this actress used her entrepreneurial experience to create her own opportunities. Heavy Chef representative, Caley van der Kolk chatted to the remarkable Micharn Pollock about her mission.
When the drought and subsequent water crisis hit Western Cape earlier this year, our local film industry took a major knock. And then came winter which is by its nature a quiet period for the film industry. Many actresses may have sat back, waiting for the next season to roll around, in dismay that their auditions, bank balances and exposure had diminished.
Not Micharn Pollock.
This plucky local talent used the *ahem* dry period to launch into a new side of her acting career: that of creative conceptualizer, writer, producer and actress.
Micharn did all of this so as to be able to act in roles that she really wanted, to ensure she stayed on top of her game.
‘Heavy Chef’, much?
Perhaps we should also add in that she decided to conceptualize, write, produce and act in two of her own short films, alongside running a highly successful social media agency, known as Social Watchdog.
How she balanced all the above is quite remarkable.
Micharn’s first short film, Sarah’s Bedroom, is soon to launch.
In Micharn’s words “she mixed her entrepreneurial business side with her acting side” “because when there was a slump in the film industry this year, she didn’t want to sit around waiting.”
We believe there exists a good lesson in her approach for other creatives who may find the South African Industry too small/lacking in the right opportunities for them. It’s often that we hear people saying “there just isn’t enough opportunity for presenting/acting/music here in South Africa.”
Sure, we’re sitting in a country at the bottom of the African continent and it’s pretty small and there are 3 major cities where your creativity can shine, but please don’t up and leave yet - now, more than ever, there is a respect and focus on creativity emerging from the African continent.
If you’re a creative entrepreneur, sitting in a dry season, why not take a lesson from Micharn and create your own opportunities within South Africa that showcase your talent on a global stage.
The world is certainly ready to receive it now.
I was glad to hear from Micharn that other people in the film arena had the same approach as her - that, in fact, the water crisis ignited a wave of inspiration within RSA’s borders where people have conceptualized, funded and brought to life their own short and feature films.
“It is encouraging to see this taking place on RSA soil, in light of a rough year.”
It’s not every actress, however, that can take on the creative conceptualization and business side of bringing a film to life, so we’re interested to find out more about Micharn Pollock and her process of creating two short films.
I asked Micharn about the process.
Micharn, how did you become a creative?
My father is a photographer and my mother is a great painter and so from a very young age I was encouraged to create. I have tried many mediums for expression over the years, with acting remaining a constant method of communicating for me. I have been involved in public speaking, drama and acting for as long as I can remember and always jump at the opportunity to act. I love the process of preparing for a role; exploring different situations and emotions and bringing truth and reality to it. There has to be compassion for people and no judgement of the character which is incredibly powerful. I feel that I gain a new perspective on people and life with each audition. I love the challenge that each role brings. It keeps me growing. Our body is a wonderful instrument and acting allows me to play!
What was your process for creating the short films?
I have strong relationships and friendships and what has interested me is how these bonds can be both incredibly strong, yet unpredictably fragile in certain situations. I met someone who inspired me to write a story which I believed would touch people as we can all relate to the intricacies of friendships. I worked with a script writer who advised me during different stages of the script writing process. I also got some great advice from an acting coach who assisted with the final polishing of the script.
What were the biggest challenges you've faced in putting together these short films?
When writing this short film I found that I had to exercise much self-control! Actions speak louder than words and show what a character is like. I had to be very strict when it came to the dialogue and making sure that every word used was important to the story.
Having invested much time into the script and the characters I had a very definite way that I wanted the film to be projected. I was lucky to have worked with an excellent director and DOP who I have known for some time. This meant that our communication was always good and this made the process smoother.
I was also so incredibly fortunate to have had a team working on this project who were totally invested in the project. Everyone jumped in when necessary and went out of their way to assist me with creating this short film.
I found that I had times when I was immersed in the creative process of rehearsals and was disturbed by a phone call only to find out that the weather was changing and this was going to delay our shoot starting date. The next hour was then spent shuffling crew, location and equipment rentals. I then had to jump back into the creative process with the actor who I was rehearsing with. Coming from a business management background I was very used to problem-solving and multitasking. It is most certainly different when the multitasking requires such different parts of your brain!
In terms of the South African film industry, we’ve seen a year which has been affected by the Cape Town water crisis. We have also seen some incredible local productions coming out. I think that the most important thing for an actor is to stay on top of your game even when the industry hits a bit of a slump as it can just as quickly pick up again. There is a huge pool of talent in South Africa which the global industry has only touched on. With more local productions doing well internationally I believe this will change.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I have kept myself busy! Creating my own content has helped me grow as an actor and as a person. I travel as often as I can to attend acting workshops outside of the country to make sure that I am keeping abreast of international standards.
Where to from here for you, and for the industry in South Africa?
I am busy in talks with a production company about a new film which I will be acting in later in the year. I am always excited when there are local films being shot. We are also heading into the busy season for acting which I am really excited about. I am always on the lookout for roles that will challenge me. I am excited for what the future will hold.