We chat to local fashion filmmaker and director Jeana Theron about her latest project for Edgars fashion

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Jeana Theron tells us about her love for fashion and film, and being a woman in the industry
Award-winning director Jeana Theron opens up about her latest fashion film In The Rhythm of Winter, and shares her thoughts on the progress of women in the film industry.
We love In The Rhythm of Winter. Tell us how you got involved in this project…

I was one of three directors approached to create a fashion film for Edgars. In the Rhythm of Winter was my opportunity to make something really edgy and fun.

You have an amazing portfolio of powerful video content; what about this particular project for Edgars grabbed you?

I love fashion, and I love making fashion films even more. Often when we make commercials or content we have certain creative restrictions due to branding, messaging and strategy; but this project was completely open to creativity – the only criteria being to make it edgy and entertaining. What grabbed me was the unlimited creative opportunity it presented.

When did you first become involved in the film industry?

I started about 18 years ago. I was working as a PA (which was not my natural talent as it involved a lot of admin) for a movie producer, but it led me down the path of creative research for a local film agency, which I was much better at. From there I got the opportunity to direct. I became a professional director about 12 years ago.

The film industry in South Africa (and internationally) is still largely male-dominated. What has your experience been as both a creative and a woman?

On the positive side, things are really changing now, there is a definite drive to bring in more women and there are great initiatives like Free The Bid, which is making big changes for women in the film industry world wide, specifically creatively. Internationally companies are committing to opening up the way for women, and not through tokenism, but through committing with a genuine desire for change.

That said, it is tough to be a woman in the film industry, as it is in many other industries. There is sadly still a strong gender bias that is so systemic people don’t even know it exists. The gender bias affects the opportunities available for women, and the type of work that people think that women can do. This obviously has a creative impact, as more interesting, creative work tends to have bigger budgets. Historically people don’t think of women as being capable of handling such work. If you look at women directors in advertising (which is the category of women directors I’m speaking about) there are only few who have done really big work in the last 20 years versus the 10 or so male directors.

Do you think enough is being done in South Africa’s growing film industry to make it more inclusive of women leadership and craftmanship?

I can see and have seen a lot of change, and the consensus is that it’s better now for women in this industry than ever before; it’s more ‘normal’ to see women in key roles. But I think it could be more rapid. Women in leadership positions can and should help other women either through mentoring young talent and/or insisting on having women in key roles. I hire talented and deserving women every chance I get, and it isn’t about tokenism; it’s a simple case of supply and demand. If there is more of a demand for women then there’s more opportunity for women.

Any advice for would-be women directors?

Keep on keeping on, and always keep your standards high. Don’t believe anyone who says you can’t. If you reach a point where you feel you can’t, figure out why and gain the required skills until you can.

Which local and international talent would you like to work with – your creative ‘wishlist’ so to speak.

Locally I would love to work with Manthe Ribane and her siblings. I think they are unbelievably talented, on so many levels. They epitomise style in my opinion. I would love to work with Tom Hardy because he is so hot… Oh, and I guess because he’s talented too.

In a nutshell, please explain the concept of In The Rhythm of Winter for our readers…

To capture the notion of ‘Breaking Out’, we follow a group of friends as they enter a pop-up underground party where they experience various captivating sights and sounds before arriving at the dance-off. Sne, our lead, is finally coaxed to approach the floor herself. You see her let go completely; she dances her heart out, breaking out of any form of self-conciousness and letting feeling take control.

What does it mean to you to ‘Own the Feeling’, ‘Own the Fashion’, ‘Own the Style’, and which specific elements in your video directly speaks to this?

It’s about self expression. The entire story speaks to this, as each individual in the film exhibits their personal feelings about style, fashion and dance. Our talent was so connected to their love of dance on the actual shoot day. It was electric when they danced, and everybody there could feel we were doing something cool. I believe this comes through in how it affects the viewers; it’s a feel-good film, and that’s largely due to the natural atmosphere on set.


Favourite international director?
It’s both Reed Morano, who directed episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, and of course Jane Campion [of The Piano], who inspired me to direct in the first place, and showed me I could do it too.

Most inspirational/admired local talent?
Manthe Ribane.

Favourite genre to shoot?
Fashion films, for sure.

Favourite ever project?
This is a tough one… I really loved doing Edgars but there was one I did on the road that was very tough, but also really fun and rewarding.

How do you unwind?

Describe your style in two words.
French chic.

Your favouirte piece from the new Edgars collection.
The snakeskin-print dress; I love the glamour of it.

Image supplied

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