Meet Brendan C. Campbell
Meet Brendan C. Campbell, a filmmaker from South Africa, who is house-trained and can fit into most overnight bags.
- How did you start Hand Drawn House Motion Pictures? (Inspiration for the name, website etc.)
I've known that I wanted to make movies since I was nine years old. At the time I felt like I'd found my calling in life and everything was right, so as a kid the only way for my imagination to really process what I saw in my head was to get it out on paper, so I'd spend hours sketching (what I now know as storyboards) and creating visual stories. On the weekends I'd spend my entire allowance on Balsa wood, polystyrene, glues, polymer resins, etc, and I'd build model miniatures of movie sets I'd seen on screen and I'd try mimic that. It was the 'sandbox' period of my life. I loved it. Time went on and I think I was in my late teens and I mentioned that I was trying to figure out a name for my company; my mom (of all people) pulled out an old charcoal abstract I'd done for our new house we'd moved into when I was at that age, and there it was: A Hand Drawn House that I'd created when I was in that section of my life... I can't really describe why it worked for me, but it worked.
- What has impacted you the most about being in the industry you're in?
I think there's a great drive right now, an unsatisfied hunger because there's never been more exciting time to be making movies, and it's only going to get better. I think we shouldn't kid ourselves, it's a people industry - as with all creative workflows. Human beings are ultimately what leave their mark on you, as an artist, and it's from other people that one learns and grows and even draws inspiration at times. As a medium film really allows you to meet absolutely everyone, from the gems of this world to the real scum of the Earth, and at the end you realize that we're all the same. We're all afraid and all we want is a hug. What I love about that is that storytelling genuinely allows me to provide the hug. It's greatly fulfilling.
- Who is your icon and why?
I used to love answering questions like this. I guess I got really giddy at the thought of one-day meeting and working with these great people and when you do you immediately realize that we're all on the same page, that they're just like oneself figuring it out and enjoying the work of others. Looking up to 'iconic' people since enjoying that kind of experience, meeting your childhood idols you very quickly learn that you, ironically, should be your own icon. You should always strive to be that masthead of governance in your own life while appreciating, learning from, supporting and admiring others. Now I'm not saying everyone should be a conceited ape, but I do feel that there's a lot of investment that's gone into 'celebrity' in contemporary society and it's a problem in that it breeds a false expectation for young people to uphold, when what they really should be doing is striving to uphold the qualities they admire in those around them within themselves for others to see and ultimately do the same. Be a hero, not an icon. There's a great quote in Sonic Highways, directed by Dave Grohl, that goes: "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought."
- What is the good and the bad things you have learnt from being in the industry you are in?
I think in terms of bad experiences in the industry - the only thing that comes to mind are the politics. To elaborate: When I was younger, if I wanted to work on a movie set I needed experience, but without experience, I couldn't get onto a crew list. It's a vicious cycle. In that instance, it really does become about who you know, and it makes things very hard and inaccessible for new talent to get into the industry - which is almost like a rite of passage if you will, but it seems to be more unforgiving that it ought to be. I don't know, I'm sure there are others disagreeing with me as they read this.The good outweighs everything else, there's no greater resolve than when someone watches what you've done and they have a great experience. Whatever that may be. I love seeing a movie and an audience interacting with each other, it's bliss. Plus the feeling of watching one's own work in a cinema... That's why I do what I do.
- What projects have you been on / collaborated with and are currently doing?
My producing partner, Xolelwa Ollie Nhlabatsi, and I have put together a production slate that we're dedicating ourselves to over the next few years. We're kicking things off now with a short film called Into Infinity, which is our little sledgehammer that we'll be sending around the world next year on a festival run. It's very exciting, we're in the midst of our crowdfunding campaign and the response has been great - we're both very excited. I guess the best part for me is keeping everything very secretive for now. Into Infinity serves as a proof of concept for the next step we're following up with - three feature films over the next four years - Nefarious Creatures (A noir thriller), Roach (a horror-comedy) and Bank School (an action-comedy/ buddy-comedy). Everything's been drafted, even complete scripts written. I suppose I could say more for now, but it'll spoil the fun. What I will say is that when the dust has settled I confidently believe we will have done something significant for the film-making world; we've gone to great lengths to create works that will really wow audiences on every level. In the midst of this, we're also creating a lifestyle/ travel/ magazine show called Through the Eyes of Africa, that really celebrates Africa and Africans in the twenty-first century. It's something I'm very proud of because we get to embrace our diversity and uniqueness as a continent. Then there's a web series called Braamies which we're also launching, about life in the Johannesburg CBD.
- What is your favourite event to attend in the year, and why?
I love going to a great music festival or an act with some close friends. If there's an international act, I'm usually there. I wouldn't say there's a consistent event that I've been attending each year, I like to keep things a little spontaneous in that regard. Unless you count in Dungeons & Dragons tabletop meetings every other week. Don't tell anyone.
- What advice can you give to someone who is looking at starting a company, production etc of their own?
The best advice I can give anyone looking to start their own company or a production of sorts would be to ignore what others have done. You have your own blueprint, you can formulate strategies based on what someone else has done, but the reason why an entrepreneur such as, say Richard Branson, has succeeded the way he has is because of who he is. His implementation of said strategy is unique unto himself, and Africans have so much to give, we are such a beautiful people in that light. True, draw inspiration and learn from the mistakes set by examples before you (that's common sense, really), but getting back the question of icons, I think people very quickly need to be themselves in every way. We've already got a Kanye West, we don't need another one. Be different, be bold, be unique. The best part is you just have to be yourself in order to achieve. Don't kid yourself, it's scary as hell, but that's probably because not a lot of people do it. And also, sometimes it's okay to take 'no' for an answer, You learn more from the critics, you even learn which criticism to adhere and which to ignore.
- Being in the arts, what has been your number one drive to be successful?
Are you kidding? The lifestyle doesn't come cheap. My looks are high maintenance. You think three assistants and two mobile chocolate fountains come cheap? Of course, I'm joking. Without a doubt, the greatest drive for me is peace of mind. Once an idea has me, I'm done for, so it's entirely up to me to see it through and make it happen - and usually that means sleepless nights until the vision is completed, and in the way, it needs to be. You don't have to get it right first time, but you do have to get it right.
- How can people get in contact with you? (Social media, website etc.)
Anyone wanting to find out more, invest, collaborate or just say 'hi' can drop me a message on firstname.lastname@example.org I'm on Instagram pretty much every day, it keeps me sane. You can follow me there on @handdrawnbink - which is also my Twitter handle, of course, there are the websites handdrawhouse.com and blackweather.co.za. We also want to drive people to our crowdfunding campaign which will be live at https://igg.me/at/intoinfinitymovie next week, probably already live by the time this interview goes online. Plus I recommend everyone gives Hand Drawn House Motion Pictures Ltd., Into Infinity and Blackweather Productions (our partner company) a like on Facebook