Black women and youth still excluded from meaningful film and television ownership

Black women, young people and people with disabilities continue to be excluded from meaningful ownership of the South African film and television industry.

This is according to a report titled The state of transformation of the South African film and television industry commissioned by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF). The NFVF found that while blacks have made progress in obtaining decision-making roles, this does not apply to business and economic decisions such as crew and finance. The report used research from 1,000 people who identified as black, from which 295 questionnaires were collected across the nine provinces. Forty in-depth interviews were conducted.

Ownership but limited funds

“In the case of businesses owned by young people and people with disabilities, the survey results showed limited meaningful participation, and little or no participation, in each of the two categories respectively. On the other hand, while a large number of youth-owned businesses are heavily involved in the industry, their numbers drop sharply when annual turnover exceeds R500,000. Likewise, at the individual level, there is a strong representation of low-income youth, but this decreases as income levels increase,” he says.

Similarly, black women own creative businesses, but these are usually businesses that are worth less than R10 million.

“In the case of respondents to this survey, no business earning more than R10 million was recorded as being owned by a black woman. This points to both race and gender as a compounding barrier to transformation at the intersection of sector participation and access. Again, we find that female ownership of businesses is not the same as meaningful female participation in the industry, and this is particularly the case for black women,” the report states.


Some of the survey respondents said they believe networking is how many creatives succeed in the industry, and that previously disadvantaged people don’t have the same access and networks as creatives. whites.

“Individual survey respondents noted that referrals and networking were by far the most effective and successful way to find work opportunities, surpassing that of project advertising or working with an agent. Respondents interviewees felt this may pose limitations to transformation. New entrants who are black, young, female and disabled often find it difficult to enter the industry because they lack the support of viable networks,” says he.

Fifty-three percent of respondents said they found a job through referrals and word of mouth.

“The survey data clearly indicates that jobs are primarily accessed through referrals, networks and word of mouth, both at the individual and company level. At the individual level, these referral networks are managed and controlled by Heads of Department (HODs), who are responsible for hiring crew members. This has been identified as an access control level. Respondents said non-black HOD roles often stand in the way of black people’s chances of being hired. Black and female practitioners see themselves as perpetually inexperienced in certain positions, despite having worked in the industry for many years.


But the report found that more black-owned businesses are likely to hire women and young people, meaning the transformation can be “self-reinforcing”.


Seventy-three percent of respondents said access to finance was difficult. Some respondents said the issues included misaligned timelines and untimely responses from funders, forcing companies from previously disadvantaged backgrounds to bear the brunt.

“To access funding, knowledge of open calls and knowledge of existing funding mechanisms is required, assuming other conditions are met. Respondents indicated that the requirements are often bureaucratic and inaccessible,” the report states.

“Interviewees spoke of misaligned funding requirements between different funders, each requiring a slightly different commitment, creating additional administrative work for already overstretched companies.”

Develop the market

According to the report, respondents believe that the South African film industry is experiencing little growth, which means that established companies are competing with new companies for jobs.

“Without growth, there are simply too few roles and too little work available to allow for healthy competition and progression. For young people, this means established practitioners occupying all the available space within the industry. , including “entry-level” projects, as there are not enough opportunities at the established end of the industry. Similarly, start-up companies must compete with established companies for early-stage work. career opportunities, with established companies unable to find advanced projects,” the report said.


  • Government and enabling agencies should consider adjusting some of their funding and creating better coordination.
  • Funding must follow international market demands.
  • Development of an industry-led transformation charter.
  • A deeper focus on new digital markets and content production and how this affects South African industry.

Film and TV industry reports can be found here.

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