No middle ground for AFDA student Dirk Jacobs

News, 04 August 2020

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AFDA Johannesburg 1st year film student Dirk Jacobs decided not to content himself by lumbering on the couch and streaming films 24/7 during the COVID - 19 lockdown, but snatched at the first opportunity to continue his passion for filmmaking which resulted in a beautifully made short documentary film.

Dirk’s partner, who works as an architect at a firm called Local Studio based in Brixton, Johannesburg, approached him with a wonderful opportunity to film and document the installation of a mural that she designed, within the suburb of Westbury. She then put Dirk in contact with a colleague of hers, Shawn Constant, who grew up in Westbury. Shawn afforded Dirk the opportunity to interview his aunt and another community elder who were present during the Sophiatown evictions which took place in 1956. From there the project evolved into a short chronicle of Sophiatown and two of its elders. The documentary and the mural serve to inspire the youth within Westbury to engage with architecture and art. 

“Considering how the youth in Westbury might not be fully enabled to engage with creativity and creative lines of work, the mural and the documentary serves as a catalyst to open up a world of creative possibilities for them. I find it to fall in line with my passion to document this prospective ideal through the lens. It was a story I felt needed to be told.” says Dirk.

Watch Dirk’s documentary here:

“I’ve always enjoyed being able to manipulate the world through a lens. Creating stories has always been a part of my life. When I discovered film making it introduced me to a world where I could make those dreams a reality. After I started making short films with my phone, it ignited a passion within me that pushed me to try and create something truly beautiful. I am from a small town called Middleburg in Mpumalanga. Being creative in a town like that, which relies heavily on trades as occupation, was never a feasible choice of vocation for me – this drove me to leave the town and study at AFDA to pursue my passion for telling stories creating unique images.”

Dirk is inspired by the works of Martin Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson – particularly the films Goodfellas and Magnolia, which he says opened his eyes to how creative filmmaking can change the way you see the world, with their depiction of hyper-realism. “I want people to be able to experience visceral reality through the medium of film.” says Dirk.

After graduating from AFDA, Dirk’s long term goal is to direct films, although his true love will always be cinematography.  “I want to immortalize small moments that would otherwise seem mundane. It serves as a microcosm of the way that I see the world - anything and everything can look interesting with enough effort.” says Dirk.



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AFDA is registered as the South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance, and is a private higher education institution which offers higher certificate and degree programmes. It is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) as a private higher education institution under the the Higher Education Act, 1997. Registration certificate no. 2001/HE07/012. Our programmes are accredited and we participate productively in the ongoing reaccreditation and quality assurance processes of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) to ensure the quality of our programmes.
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