The Person: Bryony Roughton

As an undergraduate majoring in Psychology and Communications Bryony became fascinated by power dynamics in society and the role of media in creating social change and transformation. Communications and Psychology have remained major themes in her life, but she completed my degree with a specific focus on the media creation and performance space.

Inspired by the stage and live performance Bryony discovered Mime as an art form in 1995. Soon she had learnt all she could and gathered a group to train for street performances. By 1999 this had progressed to creating theatre shows as a writer, director and producer.

When she met her husband, Mark Roughton, they discovered a common interest in storytelling, scriptwriting, and movie-making. They moved quickly into married life and parenting twins, and then, in 2005, decided to step into film-making. “We tackled a feature film with a crew of 5 people and none of us knew much about making a movie! With a ‘how hard can it be?’ approach; and twin-toddlers-in-tow they jumped in and learnt as they went. It was film school by deep immersion! A challenging and life-changing experience. After crashing and burning, and they rose from the ashes, with a lifetime of lessons learnt in just a few months. While ENGAGEMENT picked up two awards at international film festivals it never secured distribution. As difficult as it was, they never looked back, and from that time embraced a life in film.

In 2006 Bryony formed the production company Mandela Bay Pictures with Mayenzeke Baza, with the goal of developing the film and TV industry in the Eastern Cape. The Nab’Ubomi Inter-School Short Film Competition was launched in the same year with support from the SABC Department of Industry Development. In time, other partners such as EC Department of Education, and The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) came onboard.

Over the following decade the School Competitions would see the production of over 100 films made with high schools and first time filmmakers. Television series and documentaries were also produced during this time and between 2008 and 2012 Bryony was invited to Germany, Norway, Sweden, The Netherlands, and the UK to showcase the Nab’Ubomi project and its film creations.

2011 took a new turn when Bryony received a scholarship to study a Masters degree in Media and International Development in the UK. Her thesis explored the role of media education and audience development in a developing film industry (South Africa). After this experience she relocated to Cape Town, with her family, and the intention of taking Nab’Ubomi to new heights with a clear focus on youth development and film education. Mayenzeke continued with Mandela Bay Pictures moving in the direction of Feature Films, Documentaries, and Film Distribution.

Again, a surprising turn took place when Bryony fell pregnant with her fourth child in 2012. She ended up lecturing at various film institutions around Cape Town, working with tertiary level film students, as well as running a few school film competitions between 2014 and 2019. All the NabUbomi and SAY short films are hosted on the SAYmeTV YouTube channel. In recent months our online audience has grown considerably.

Now in the 2020s Bryony is entering a new era of film engagement and empowerment with online COURSES and CHALLENGES, COACHING and COMMUNITIES to encourage personal growth, transformation, empowered expression, skilled communication, and content creation; for young people, organisations and new ventures.

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