2inspire Network blog is one of the mediums the Network uses to empower and inspire individuals. It is used to share knowledge and messages that will make a positive impact in people's lives and is also used as a platform to promote the products, services and events of the Network and external organisations.
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
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
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
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
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…