This female-owned production company is breaking stereotypes
23-year-old Vusiwe Mashinini on the inspiration behind her all-female media production house
Having finished high school just five years ago, Vusiwe Mashinini is already establishing herself as a driver for change for women in TV and multimedia production.
23-year-old Mashinini is the founder and CEO of VMProductions, a photography and video production house based in Johannesburg which she started in 2013.
"I'm a firm believer that if you don’t invest in yourself, no one will"
VMProductions offers holistic solutions for video production and photography needs, from pre-production, script writing, make-up, wardrobe, artistic direction, filming, up to editing.
The company has a staff compliment of nine young women who work in different capacities as brand ambassadors, stylists, make-up artists, photographers and video editors.
Mashinini says she's about empowering women who dream big and have ambitions in the media and related careers.
"I want to empower a number of black girls with big dreams beyond just getting married and making babies," says Mashinini.
Tough world for women
Mashinini says women in business generally encounter a number of challenges, including being undermined and sidelined by men who run these industries.
She says she realised how few women are in the media production industry while she was working behind the scenes as the first female camera operator and video editor for a community TV station.
"This inspired me to bridge the gap and create a production house that caters for an all-female team," she says.
"This also creates a platform for young women to manoeuvre into the industry without having to compromise themselves in order to get a job."
Misconceptions about photography
She says there is a misconception that her work is easy, that taking pictures requires no particular skills, or that anyone can do it.
Mashinini has a diploma in film and television. She credits her father for allowing her to use his digital and video cameras as toys when she was still a child, something which ignited her creativity.
"Photography and video production is not a hobby," she says, adding that clients have to pay for quality.
"I have experienced several challenges and also the disheartening experience of clients not paying on time, and people not understanding why photography and filming is so costly," she adds.
Opportunities in filming
According to the National Film and Video Foundation 2013 economic baseline study, an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture, the South African film and television industry contributes around R3.5 billion a year to the country's economy.
The government has identified the film industry as a sector with excellent potential for growth, and is regarded as a catalyst for both direct and indirect employment for people in different sectors of the economy.
"Our goal is to demystify the ideology that you have to be a physically powerful man to work behind the lens"
In September last year, the Department of Trade and Industry launched a R1 million South African Film and Television Production and Co-production incentive scheme to assist local emerging black filmmakers to nurture and grow them to take up big productions and thus contribute towards employment creation.
Investing in the self
Though Mashinini's business is still in its infancy, it has already done work for high-profile clients like DJ Sbu's 2020 Leadership Seminars, Yo Mzansi Care Events, Soweto TV promos. VM Productions also generates its own projects.
She says her major challenges are resources such as equipment and a professional workplace.
But Mashinini prefers self-sufficiency over begging for funds because "if you wait for someone to fund you, you might wait forever", she says.
"We are trying to tackle these challenges by hiring out equipment based on jobs that we get," she says. "I'm a firm believer that if you don’t invest in yourself, no one will".
Inspired by the best
Above her mission to offer opportunities to young women, Mashinini says she wants to develop herself as an entrepreneur.
"I would love to get to know more about how the business side works, working with figures and getting technical with funds would work brilliantly as a creative with ambition," she says.
She says as an emerging television producer, she draws inspiration from female media personalities who have gone to become formidable businesswomen like Basetsana Khumalo, Lilian Dube and Carol Bouwer, Nicky Greenwall, Khanyi Dhlomo and others.
"Our goal is to demystify the ideology that you have to be a physically powerful man to work behind the lens," she says.