Alumni Profile: Mia Cilliers
I started a company called Reel Epics Productions with two other fellow UCT MODA (Masters in Documentary Arts) graduates. We met while we were studying here; we were all doing our masters and all had the same interests, so that’s when we decided to form this company. At this point I guess you could say we’re all co-directors and co-owners.
We did this because it allows us to generate our own content and work on the projects we want to work on. We focus on non-fiction or documentary work: shorts, features, promotional films and so on. These are largely for NGOs, but we do corporate as well. Making documentaries is incredible because you remove yourself from your own world and enter somebody else’s, getting crazy exposure to things you’ve never known about and meeting people you would have never met under any other social circumstance. Every day you wake up knowing that no day is going to be like the next.
I initially obtained a general BA degree from Stellenbosch and then did my Honours in journalism there as well, but I always wanted to venture into film. Whilst I knew I wanted to be in film, I also knew that I didn’t want to go to film school, so I knew that a Masters in Documentary Arts at UCT was the perfect segway. I managed to keep things academic and within a structure, but also getting to understand the basic practical skills required. UCT managed to provide that conceptual support and knowledge. As a department, they also made sure that they were still connected to the real world, helping fund a project of ours that would later go on to win a SAFTA award. UCT both allowed and helped me to do a 10-month exchange to Berlin, and a 5-month exchange to UCLA School for Film and Television. Both were incredible experiences and the most awesome opportunities that the department could give me.