MASERU – Khauhelo Lephema believes improving local film production and saturating the market, even with small independent films from Lesotho, can take on Hollywood and India’s Bollywood and challenge their hegemony in various ways. The 26-year-old film producer has set himself this goal and wants to turn the Lesotho film industry into either a Hollywood or Bollywood. The young Mosotho filmmaker and actor who hails Khubetsoana in the outskirts of the capital Maseru holds an associate degree in Film Production from the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT).
He is now a full-time filmmaker and actor with 11 years’ experience of independent film production which started in 2011. “Before I ventured into film production, I had always loved watching films. There has been no film industry in Lesotho hence I grew up watching foreign films from all over the world – especially Hollywood films. “That is where I had my film industry personal role models like Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Martin Lawrence, Samuel L Jackson and Eddie Murphy, among many others,” he told Life&Style.
“I then fell in love with acting but it dawned on me…film in Lesotho is considered to have no future as a career. Sadly, there was nobody who would come down from Hollywood to cast me in a type of big film that I like. “But one thing was clear to me, I wanted to be in the film industry. So, it came to my attention that the only way for me to act in a film was if I made one myself,” he added.
He then decided to do some research and learn how films are made and he accidentally fell in love with filmmaking, whereas he had actually wanted to be an actor. He says he weighed which skill set might be the most complicated when making a film, and then decided it was editing and and he set out to explore it. Luckily, his mother bought him a desktop computer that was running Windows XP and he started to look for software that could edit. He found Windows Moviemaker Classic.
“That is when I started using it to cut some random scenes and shots from big commercial films and using them to construct my own sequences and stories. I even created some 2D animation videos; my love for filmmaking was growing bigger and bigger.”
“I eventually made an experimental film, ‘Mosuoe’. From the experience, I realised that I had a lot to learn ahead. I also realised that the software I was using to edit had too many limited abilities, which meant there were more advanced and sophisticated ones out there so I searched for them,” he added.
During his search Khauhelo found out that although there was no film industry in my country, there was, at least, university level studies in film production. After graduating from high school, he decided to include film production on the list of my applications of tertiary studies. He almost went for medicine but his love for film prevailed and enrolled for film production studies. During his academic studies Khauhelo made some memorable films – first of their kind ever produced in the country.
‘Sleep aftermath’ and ‘The Curse’, and after he saw how much people both locally and internationally fell in love with his films he set himself a new ultimate goal. “I wanted to develop the film industry in Lesotho and put my country up there with the big shots like the American Hollywood and Bollywood.”