interview: meet the directors of this south african project on creative entrepreneurs & the power of collaboration

May 8, 2017

By Nathan Leigh*, AFROPUNK Contributor

Directors Sizmeister & Mpumelelo Frypan Mfula spent the past year traveling around South Africa with a camera and crew, documenting the movement of young creative entrepreneurs taking control of their craft throughout South Africa. Currently on its 3rd episode “Let’s Play Outside” is a thoughtful and dynamic look at the power of collaboration. We recently got a chance to talk to the creators about their project and their thoughts on how creative collaboration can reshape the world.

Lets Play Outside Documentary – Episode 1 from Lets Play Outside on Vimeo.

What inspired the idea for “Let’s Play Outside”?

Young creative entrepreneurs inspire “Let’s Play Outside”; every one that has been a part of “Let’s Play Outside” and some who haven’t face common challenges when creating. We create to tell stories through our craft. We didn’t want our stories to die in the spaces that they were told–they’re way more valuable and momentous than they get credit for, so we wanted them to travel across the world.

Did working on the project reshape your views on collaboration?

Absolutely. Many of us had never fully tapped into the power that’s in collaboration, because sharing our ideas is scary at times. Our work is personal, so many of us are more inclined to protect it at all costs. “Let’s Play Outside” posed a challenge to that perception, and we learned that many of us are willing to collaborate in safe and progressive spaces; each one’s agenda gains power and mobility when more than one mind is invested in it.

Did any of your interviews inform the collaboration behind the documentary itself?

We did not have any clear idea of how to approach the documentary going in. We called a friend of ours, Sizmeister, who has his own media company called Uncap production and asked him to document the tour. After a couple of interviews, we realized that the common points amongst all the people we interviewed were based on the idea that creative entrepreneurs need to find a creative alternative module towards growth, and that our trip at that point captured one of the ways to approach that ideal–through travel and collaboration.

From that point we ran with the idea of collaboration and travel by hosting a documentary tour that saw us screening it at all the spaces it was shot at, and later having 200 of our friends be the ones to premiere each episode through their personal social networks.

What did you discover that was most surprising to you?

That many of us were thinking the same thing, before there was this much conversation on it.

In the first episode, Banele Rewo talks about collaboration against apartheid saying, “For us to access power, we have to collaborate.” Do you think that’s still true to gain political power?

In the recent national municipal elections, we saw how the unconfirmed collaboration between the DA and EFF resulted in the ANC losing a number of the most valuable metropolitans in the country, thus shifting the political landscape of our new democracy. That is captured by what Banele spoke to, regarding collaboration being used as a tool to gain political power.

Our mission is to have African creative entrepreneurs gain access to the commercial markets by not only collaborating amongst each other, but with other public and private stake holders who value the innovations that comes with working with young creative entrepreneurs, in this ever changing economic and social climate.

Do you see a difference between collaborating for social change and creative collaboration?

Not exactly. Societal change needs creative effort and solutions. The “Let’s Play Outside” project is aimed at solving problems like creative entrepreneurs not having access to the resources they need to grow, not being exposed to/ being able to access market, not being able to give money in exchange for services they need to move forward; if SMME’s don’t grow, communities are not reformed, people aren’t educated, nor can they learn or offer anything beyond their limitations—all of that perpetuates a cycle. These things are linked.

Lets Play Outside documentary – Episode 2 from Lets Play Outside on Vimeo.

Especially in that second episode, you highlight a lot of struggle to find the balance between creative control, collaboration, and funding. Where is the sweet spot for you?

The sweet spot would ideally be a space that young entrepreneurs would have creative freedom that is accompanied by great business acumen. What we need is to be equipped with skills and knowledge to take the little that we have and maximize on it, so we can in turn have enough to build self sustainable structures that would open room for African innovation; that would be based on creating more structures that would allow more of us to participate with greater ease in entrepreneurship.

What do you think would need to change to get there?

Firstly, we need to organize ourselves as young people and start with the little we have to explore ways to approach our ideas and dreams. At a certain point, which we are at, we would need to get an opportunity to engage stake holders from the private and public sector on how we can partner with them to bring about structures and infrastructure that would give more of us greater opportunities to contribute to our society, within our strengths and passion points. The power to innovation lies in collaboration.

What do you have planned for future of the series?

We’ve have a number of activations coming, based on music, visual arts, local brands and social sports for the next few months, leading up to the first Let’s Play Outside festival. Our goal is to have 60-100 people with us on the next LPO tour, which we’re excited about.

We’re always thinking of the next thing, so the next season of “Let’s Play Outside” is in perpetual planning, but it’ll be dope.

LETS PLAY OUTSIDE DOCUMENTARY – 3rd episode ( Creative alternative ) from Lets Play Outside on Vimeo.

“The (photos feature) young entrepreneurs who are musicians, digital and visual artists, social sports crews and founders of many local brand. These are all people we have and look to collaborate in the LPO seasons and tour with.”

Photos by AlternativeVisuals
Watch Lets Play Outside: Vimeo
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