Monday, 30 March 2015

2Inspire Inspirational Woman: Filmmaker Waiki Harnais

2Inspire meets Waiki Harnais who taught herself how to make films and who strives to be the one of the very best in a fiercely competitive industry.
Image By Martyna Przybysz
What made you start making films and how did you get started?
I studied Media and Mass communication, and my degree included a couple of filmmaking modules. That was when I first became familiar with the art form, although film was something I had always been interested in. I also enjoyed creative writing so I decided I would try my hand at screenwriting. A friend of mine convinced me to get my screenplays produced and that was when I slowly started to team up with upcoming directors, who took on my ideas and worked with me to turn them into films. The more I wrote, the more I grew and developed my skills, including my camera skills – I spent hours teaching myself the fundamentals of filmmaking so that I could be behind the camera a lot more. It paid off – today I shoot the majority of my own work under my own film and video outlet called Lusterworks Media.



What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment to date?
I guess for me, every film that does well with my audience and that gets a bit of recognition from film outlets such as festivals or film institutions (e.g. the BFI), or film screenings across
Still from one of Waiki's Short Films
London… I consider a huge accomplishment. This is a fierce industry, so whenever your work gets a bit of love, it’s an achievement in itself. Whenever I receive the news that one of my film is going to be screened somewhere, it’s always a great feeling. I think about all the hours I spent working on the piece and it makes it all worthwhile.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Every production is a challenge, however the biggest one was a series I produced not too long ago, called “Lifeof Hers”. The production process was quite intense and challenging, but such a great opportunity for me to learn and improve. As the only producer for the show, I was faced with all sorts of issues – from last minute changes and cancellations, to problems booking the right locations… Many times I thought about quitting! But I persevered, and thankfully my team was very supportive. And in the end, seeing how well the series did was a huge reward for us all.


What are your future plans with regards to film making?
I plan to continue writing and shooting my own work, and hopefully pluck up the courage to develop Lusterworks Media so that it becomes more than just a creative escapade for me, and an actual platform for great quality film and video production. I also work alongside the talented film duo Olan Collardy and Ola Masha (also known as “Ola&Olan”). We have a few projects in the pipeline and as their producer I plan to continue on this journey with them, telling beautiful stories through film and in documentary form.

Waiki on Set
Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
Because unfortunately we live in a society that is still very patriarchal in many ways, with a lot of industries that are undeniably male-dominated. The film industry definitely is one of them. When I first started, I read up a lot on the industry and how it evolved over the years. The major players were all male. It was very frightening and somewhat disheartening to enter an industry where women had such little power, so little influence. But things changed over time. Today the narrative is changing. We are making a stand in very powerful ways, and women in film around the world are creating amazing work. It’s so important that young women do not give up on their dreams because somewhere, someone is waiting for that potential to be unleashed.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a career in your industry?
If you have a story to tell, tell it. Don’t wait for anyone else to do it for you. Whether it’s through writing or film… Whatever your talent is, whatever passion you have – develop it, let the world hear your stories. In practical terms: start making the small steps that will slowly take you closer to your goal. It will be difficult at first, you may have to sacrifice a lot – financially or otherwise… the first few years will be the hardest but it will all pay off eventually. Keep working, get experience whenever you can, team up and collaborate with likeminded people. And use every resource that is available to you, especially online resources. You have to keep learning if you want to keep growing. And lastly, there are fantastic role models out there in every industry. Read up on their journeys and wherever possible, follow their advice.

What or who inspires you and why?
Lately I have been very inspired by Amma Asante and Ava Duvernay. Two very talented filmmakers/directors who are both finally getting the international recognition they deserve, because their work speaks for itself. It’s amazing how much they have accomplished these past few years, and I’m sure it wasn’t without a struggle. I recently met Amma, which was amazing. A very brief encounter after the screening of her film “Belle” in London, but a moment I will never forget. As a young black female filmmaker, I can look up to them and believe that one day my efforts will pay off too, and my work will also have the power to inspire others. I believe I am on my way there. Slowly but surely…


Twitter: @WaikiHarnais
Instagram: @WaikiHarnais

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