Mlu Godola On Winning Our MTV Breaks Directing Competition
Mlu got to direct an entire scene of MTV Shuga - and he told us just what went down.
In December MTV Breaks announced that we were giving two young people an opportunity of a lifetime. We joined up with MTV Shuga to offer two competitions: one to direct a scene of MTV Shuga series 5 in Johannesburg and one to exclusively photograph behind the scenes.
Mlu Godola was our MTV Breaks director winner. He impressed us with the brilliant video he directed at film school, and also with his enthusiastic attitude and willingness to learn.
He spent three days shadowing the MTV Shuga director Rea Rangaka on set, a day in the editing suite, running over the concepts for his scene with Creative Director Tim Green, a day checking over his shot lists with Rea, and then a day directing his scene!
We caught up with him to find out how it all went, and to give you all the low-down on the experience.
How did you first hear about the MTV Breaks opportunity and what made you apply?
I heard about the MTV Breaks Competition from a close friend who shared a screengrab of the poster. I read through it and saw that the entry requirements weren’t that complicated and so I decided to enter. I really figured, “What do I have to lose?”
When did you first get into directing and why do you love it?
I first got into film directing in high school, where I was part of a competition that gave high school students the chance to make a short film at their school. This experience gave me a peek at filmmaking as a whole and ever since then, I began to fall in love with film and the processes behind it. And that’s funny because I remember hating directing when I began; there was too much responsibility and everyone expected you to have all the answers, so I just told myself to finish the film and never look back. But the moment we called ‘wrap’ on that set, I knew I was hooked to the stress and the adrenaline.
Describe how you felt when you found out you won.
I remember feeling numb when I received the email. And even as my mother was reading it aloud to me, the realization that I’d won didn’t sink in until much later on when I began getting calls from an MTV Shuga producer. Then all the nerves & excitement kicked in…
Did you have to do any preparation for the experience? How did you feel right before you went?
Well, I did have a bit of preparation before coming onto the set. I’d been give some screenplays from the season (including the one I’d be directing) to just get a feel for the story. So I spent a lot of time reading those and trying to prepare from the scene I’d direct.
I felt quite nervous the night before the first day, I knew that this experience would be quite a departure from what I was used to and that I’d be trying to jump on a moving train since they’d already been shooting for about a month. All those worries made sleeping hard that night.
What were your first impressions of the MTV Shuga set, the cast, and the crew?
Although it’s a cliché I think that was the appropriate response to what I saw when I first walked on set. I spent that first day like a wide eyed young boy who was fascinated by everything. I was literally taking notes about everything; even the breakfast (which was pretty dope).
I guess I was impressed by the well-oiled machine. Everything was running smoothly, people knew where they had to be and when, everyone was calm… chilled, in fact. I never saw anyone run around or panic, even when it rained and shooting was halted for a while.
What was it like getting access to behind the scenes of MTV Shuga?
It was an eye-opening experience, a taste of things that will hopefully come through hard work.
Who was the most inspirational person you met and why?
Well, every person I interacted with on set really inspired me. I was inspired by each person’s passion for their job and their ambition regardless of what role they played on the set. I was, however, particularly inspired by my discussions with the directors of the series, Tim Green, Rea Rangaka and Mmabatho Montsho; primarily because that is also what I wanted to do.
I was really inspired by their individual processes and how each approached the craft of directing. I took so many notes that I filled my notebook.
What was your favourite moment of your experience, and why?
Well, of course, it was the moment where I got the chance to direct my scene. I spent most of the time really observing the crew and asking questions, doing my best to learn as much as I could in the time I could. So I was very excited by the idea of putting all that knowledge to the test by actually doing it. People often say, “If you’re a director, direct” and I believe that the best way of learning is also through the act of doing. This is why I really appreciate this immersive experience I got.
What have you learnt from this experience?
To keep going; to never give up and to always love what I’m doing. I also learnt about the value of collaboration and how a film’s success is really up to how well the crew works together.
How do you feel about your future in directing?
I’m excited about my future in directing. I realize that in order to get where I want to be, I need to put in the hours. I think the opportunity has opened my eyes to more possibilities in directing.
What did you think of your MTV Breaks experience and why should other people apply for MTV Breaks opportunities?
My MTV Breaks experience has served to add a jolt of adrenaline into my system. It’s given me the motivation to work harder at my goals in order to create content of high quality. This is an immersive experience where you get to experience all the emotions that occur on set. This is why I believe people should apply for these opportunities, to get the experience that it takes some years to get.
Head to MTVBreaks.tv for all the latest news on competitions and our winners.