The Water Queen

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Lungelo Mdlalose

Is there a particular documentary film or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

Tebogo Mahlatsi’s Yizo Yizo is by far the biggest influence.


What motivated you to make this film?

As a filmmaker of African origin I was inspired by the ancient relationship between Africans and nature versus their modern approach towards climate change and its consequences.


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

We shot the film on a Sony F700, this was predominantly influenced by budget constraints as we wanted to make an ambitious film on a very limited budget. So our thinking was instead of spending all our budget on high end cameras and specialized equipment, we rather get highly skilled individuals, pay them a reasonable rate and let them use their experience to create a quality film.


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your film to help tell your story.

For this film we used a lot of CGI in order to archive the rain and thunder. Before making this film I was a hardcore practical effects filmmaker but after making this film I believe I will explore more ways to incorporate CGI in my films.


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

For one it moved out of a mental hospital, which I think was a great idea as it truly opened up the world of story. I really wish I had more time to craft the story on set cause I think we have a great script that needed more time and budget. However I think the story is way better than it was on day one.


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this film.

Being able to step out of my comfort zone as a filmmaker who swears on practical effects and to watch the film getting pieced together with CGI. That opened up a whole new realm of possibility to me as a filmmaker.


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Stay low and get shooting. Lol. Don’t shoot your first and last scene in a rush cause overtime is cheaper than pick ups.


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

Being on set cause that’s where you breathe life in words on a paper. The feeling of getting a good take will forever excite me.


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why?

My light meter cause it reminds me that I’m making art and not just documenting.


Please share a personal story about your experience making this film.

Shooting the scene at the mine filled with rocks was the hardest day on set and it was our first day. What made it especially difficult was moving through those rocks and we were out there for almost the whole day under the harsh sun. By the time we wrapped that one scene three thirds of our day was gone and it was only a three day shoot with huge set pieces still to be shot. I was convinced after that day that I was going to get sued for not finishing a film. Lol by that was the hardest day on set but also one of my favorite sequences in the film.


What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

That it’s not big tech companies or the world’s governments that will change the world for the better but a good relationship with nature and with each other as people is what will change our world for better.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

Our role as communities in building suitable ecosystems for our communities. The sacred relationship between man and nature.


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

I think the film’s primary objective is to try to get people to reimagine the world as a place were water is a commodity and the cost of that in both everyday life and our indigenous cultural practices. Personally I think just to get the film out there and start those conversations is important. One way is to share the film with as many people as possible and also just learning on ways that one can join the fight for water conservation.


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.):

Please refer to the Doha debates website for tips on how to play your role in water conservation.



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