On March 2015, The RWUL Film Academy will be collaborating with iSPACE in Ghana to launch a series of monthly screenings and workshops. The aim of the event is to provide new and helpful resources for independent filmmakers.
We spoke with RWUL’s founder Rebekah Frimpong to learn more about the upcoming events, and what we can expect from the organization in years to come.
Q:What is RWUL? and how did the idea for the organization come about?
A: RWUL (Reel Worldwide Underground Link) is a non-profit organization that uses film and cinema as an outreach tool in communities worldwide and that provides helpful resources for independent filmmakers. Originally me and my good friend Vinita Acklin in 2006 started RWUL as an organization centered around underground Hip-hop culture and music and film. We later in changed our mission in 2007 to reflect our move towards film as a main mode of educational outreach. We were finding that film was more appropriate for the work that we wanted to do. Film speaks to many people no matter their background.
Q:Why was it important to set up an organisation focusing on the work of independent filmmakers?
A: For me it was important to set up an organization focused or centered around independent filmmaking because I saw there was a need for it. At the time when we first started we wanted to educate and provide filmmakers with resources about organizations that support filmmakers and give filmmakers a chance to have their work seen. There also was a need for peer critique and community discussion. Many of our earlier events were film screenings that engaged audiences and filmmakers around social issues. All of us at RWUL were excited to see how film brought people together and sparked change in many communities.
Q:How has your upbringing and education prepared you for the type of work that you do?
A: To be honest, I think my upbringing had nothing to do with the work I do now with RWUL. It was a metamorphous of sort getting into film. As a youth I was classically trained as a ballerina, I was a saxophonist in jazz orchestra, and a classically trained theater student. I never thought about film; I thought only about the stage. But it was the opportunity I got my senior year in college to be in a senior thesis film that changed everything for me. I fell in love with film and cinema. So much so, I went to a local TV station and got training as a TV producer and learned non-linear editing for film and television. In 2009, I made my first film but I was curating film festivals as far back as 2005. I more so just listened to my heart and followed my passion to get to where I am now and doing the work that I do.
Q:As well as being the founder of RWUL, you are also a published author, filmmaker, and a mother (amongst other things). How do you find time to juggle home life with the running of the business?
A: Everything is a learning process. I am not perfect, and I try to constantly research and learn what I can. I write constantly. I write my goals down, I write my “to do lists”, and I write proposals for projects I want to complete. I also try to take time for me, but recently becoming a mother that has been challenging since I devote myself 100% to my son. I like to keep my outlook simple, that also helps with balancing many things at once. Keeping stress low, meditating, and practicing yoga help me as well. I also believe that eating well contributes to a pure mind and strengthens the body.
Q:What motivates you?
A: My own ambition, my ancestors, my son, and foremost the relationship I am developing with God motivates me to do the best that I can and to connect with people in a genuine way.
Q: Next month, you’ll be partnering with iSpace to launch The RWUL Film Academy and Monthly Screening Series in Ghana. What can we expect from this year’s events?
A: Well, we have posted information on our website www.rwul.com with all that we will be planning for the partnership with iSpace in Ghana for the RWUL Film Academy. But basically, there is a new push going on now to have filmmakers connect with audience and their peers completely online. We want to combine virtual and live film programs to engage audiences in Ghana and to hopefully connect filmmakers in Ghana with their peers across the globe. We are mainly working with filmmakers of African descent (defined loosely) from across the globe to take part in this project.
Q: Is there a criteria for filmmakers interested in participating?
A: Filmmakers interested in participating can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and can also keep in mind that we will have our 3rd Annual “I Luv Africa” Film Festival (ILAFF2015) in October that they can submit work to. Submission for ILAFF 2015 will be accepted starting April 2015.
Q: RWUL is now in its 8th year. Where can we expect to see RWUL in the next 5 years?
A: Wow, time flies…basically I developed a 10 year plan back in 2012 for the growth of RWUL. In the next 5 years we are hoping to continue what we have started and to get better at engaging audiences in Ghana. RWUL is hoping the RWUL Film Academy Partnership with iSpace Ghana will lead to reorganizing the mission of RWUL and focusing on independent film and cinema in Africa solely. Having the home base located in Ghana West Africa, RWUL Film Academy will kick starter the development an online platform to teach film, connect, and engage filmmakers with filmmakers in Africa across the continent and the globe. The ultimate goal is to raise the level of appreciation for the art medium of film on the continent of Africa and attracting more investors, fiscal sponsors, and organizations to connect with filmmakers in Africa. By the end of 2015, RWUL’s main goal is to facilitate a successful project that will lead to continuation of the project in 2016 in two other African cities.
Q: What advice would you give to future African entrepreneurs that are inspired by the work that RWUL does?
A: My advice would be to stay focused. Be wise in choosing who you work with and collaborate with, and to do your research. Hard work goes a long way and persistence will get you to the place you need to be. Always have goals or a plan and determine your success based on the goals you have achieved.
First Image Credit: Lightville Photography (Nii Djarbeng) in Ghana.