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DirectorRo takes destiny into its own hands

DirectorRo takes destiny into its own hands

DirectorRo takes destiny into its own hands

South Africa:

Rokunda Netshiluvhi of DirectorRo has created a new virtual platform at Vision View Productions based in Cosmo Business Park, Johannesburg. Netshiluvhi resigned from full-time employment and started his own company as a freelancer in November 2019. He has used his time during lockdown to establish himself as a lighting designer as well as creating the new virtual platform.

Rokundo Netshiluvhi of DirectorRo
Rokundo Netshiluvhi of DirectorRo

Detailing his journey, Netshiluvhi has some advice for other freelancers in his position. “I decided to register myself as a business so that I could be accountable in everything I do,” he explained. “If freelancers pay attention, they can do what I’m doing. Many freelancers rely on receiving a phone call and being booked for an event. They think that to get work, someone has to call, instead of thinking ‘let me try and make something myself, let me pitch an idea to people, let me do something for myself’. If work can’t come to you, find work. For people to trust and take you seriously, present yourself as a business, ensure you have a business profile and have a voice outside your personal self that will enable you to work for a company or event.”

With gratitude to his former employer, Murangi Productions, where he has worked since 2016 as an audio engineer and a self-taught lighting designer with an interest in technical directing, Netshiluvhi established DirectorRo. Admittedly the prospect frightened him. “But when I looked at where I wanted to go in my life and the direction I needed to take, I could only see it happening if I did it for myself,” he said. “I took a leap of faith and the reason I survived is God. God came through for me because as soon as I resigned, I started getting phone calls for events. I was shocked.”

With live events initially banned due to the Covid-19 lockdown, Netshiluvhi pulled out the skills he had shelved over the years to help him. With tools such as Photoshop and Sketch Up, he created a brochure to advertise his designing ability – another skill he previously learnt online – and was soon commissioned to create designs and renders for people’s apartments, restaurants and mini-restaurants. In addition, he and his friends made a pact to gain as much knowledge as possible during the lockdown period. “So literally every single day I learnt something I didn’t know before,” he recalled. “I have probably watched all the MA Lighting videos presented by Christian Jackson on YouTube. On top of that, I would attend webinars and I made a vow that this thing would not break me but would build me one way or another.”

Vision View Productions, known for its live outside broadcasting, live or pre-recorded studio work, livestreaming and music and drama productions, needed someone to do the lighting for an online show. What was meant to be a one-day job, organically expanded. Once at Vision View Productions, Netshiluvhi couldn't help but notice a large, empty and unused warehouse and his mind raced with ideas. “I made four proposals to utilise the space, and with the fifth proposal, I convinced them,” he furthered. “I had to write down my plan, how I would make money and how the new studio would run. I submitted renders and got the go-ahead. I have three partners including Thakadu Productions, who supply the LED screens, TMM Productions for the stage, structure and some of the lighting, and Vision View for the cameras and certain graphic work. I plan the shows, supply the crew and pull everything together.”

Within two weeks, the studio was built and launched. The virtual platform has played host to government programmes, conferences, sports awards and music shows to mention a few, all the while bookings are steadily coming in. “I knew that waiting for someone to rescue me was not going to happen,” he concluded. “I decided to do something and, even if it’s not all about the money at this point, it does help. It is also about the relationships built during this time and creating potential work for the future."

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