Documentaries with a Difference- Meet Nicky Newman
Nicky Newman. Filmmaker. Producer. Editor. Distributor. Storyteller. Juggler!
Nicky, who runs a production company called See Thru Media, is refreshing and delightful. Her eyes sparkle. Her ideas sparkle. I say ‘juggler’ because she is managing 15 concurrent filmmaking projects at the moment, and talks about each with passion and purpose.
One project, for example, is training a group of young new filmmakers who are about to shoot a series of documentaries about gender violence. Another project, is a documentary about a young American girl, Ellen, who is working in the townships in Cape Town and helping to set up an orphanage. She is also planning a series of training films about self defence- coaching young girls and women in how to protect themselves against attack.
The list goes on, enthusiastically.
I asked Nicky whether she always wanted to go into documentary making. Turns out, that film making was not some grand plan. When deciding what course to do at university, she ran her fingers down a list of entry options, and stopped at journalism. While at Rhodes University in the 80s, in the height of the apartheid years, she learned what it was like to have a stills camera strapped to her hip, and the constraints of the media.
“Rhodes was one of the most political hotspots in the country, and I had my eyes rapidly opened’, she told me. ‘I started the course and realised that you can’t actually do anything. So I got involved with the whole left movement there. The student newspaper was very leftie and was one of the only publications in the whole of Grahamstown that could really say anything. It had quite a real voice. So I got a crash course in how to take a picture from your hip and smuggle the film out; that kind of stuff! Now ten, twenty years later, I am still trying to shrug some of that off!’
Her first venture into filmmaking was for her honour thesis, a film about eating disorders. It started being shown in eating disorder clinics and in universities, then got into a film festival, and ‘just started to travel’. ‘That little film took me almost around the world’, Nicky recalls.
She hasn’t stopped since. And long may she continue!