janine brown

As I sit writing this text, I can’t help but feel a sense of hesitation.

Building up to “the moment” was exciting and just like the feeling you get before jumping into the pool full kit without testing the waters – you do not know what to expect.

The Photo Incubation programme has allowed me to stretch myself in ways I didn’t anticipate. It allowed me to build the character I needed to delve into the film and entertainment industry. Unlike my fellow Incubates, I do not solely work with the medium of photography. Film is the primary concern of my practice. A combination of the moving image and audio.

My company, Lemon Dry Productions began to take shape during the course of the 5th edition of this programme. The company is 100% Black Female & Youth led and strives for the development and representation of across all marginalised groups in South Africa through innovative programming and media production. We believe everybody deserves to see themselves in the kind of media and entertainment that they consume and engage with.

Ultimately, we want you to own being you, unapologetically.

Initially, when I joined the company, it was already formally registered but lacked a creative pulse. Through the guidance of my mentors, I began to understand what the company can be as a brand and how to articulate that into something tangible. For me, one of the best aspects of being an artist is in operating behind the scenes. This programme forced us to put ourselves at the core of our projects.

After creating a body of work there’s a strange sense of ambivalence that follows. It is an anxiety about how the work could possibly be misread and the self-criticism that makes you feel as if your work is never really complete or polished enough. All combined with the excitement of creating something for an audience to engage or respond to.

After taking inspiration from the visual theorist and cultural analyst, Grizelda Pollock, I became interested in their notion of the gaze. There’s no better way to portray the action and politics of seeing than through a lens. In the conceptualisation of my documentary titled, “Made You Look,” I became curious about the effects of subverting the black male gaze in South Africa and its implications. Typically for instance, when I’m walking through the city, in shops and at church I always feel like I am being watched, this gaze seems to always be following me. But what would happen if the gaze was reversed?

In doing so through my documentary project, I uncovered a sense of vulnerability.

A vulnerability that is not typically shown in popular media’s representation of what a black man should be. Additionally, what happens when a woman – the typical subject of a male gaze –  finally returns it?

The documentary is an ongoing process, just as my exploration of this concept. The Incubator programme has given me the opportunity to develop clear frameworks to begin to think beyond content creation as well as to apply the practical skills of project implementation, marketing and funding structures that are truly essential to the successful production of a film.

I am finally making the jump.

I am entering the waters of the industry head first, not knowing if I’ll make it. But thanks to my business mentor Robyn Keet, and others, I will swim.