Henco Jacobs is the 2014 South African winner of Jameson First Shot whose script and treatment for his short film The Mundane Goddess impressed major movie-makers enough to bring him to Los Angeles to shoot it with the award-winning Trigger Street Productions, starring Uma Thurman.
Born in 1981, Henco grew up aspiring to be an actor which lead him to study Drama at the Tshwane University of Technology (then known as the Pretoria Technikon) where he graduated with a B-TECH Degree cum laude. In 2013 he obtained his Master’s Degree cum laude from the University of Pretoria with a dissertation in which he developed strategies, based on cognitive neuroscientific findings, to assist the actor in circumventing the challenges that arise when working on a green screen set.
Over the past twelve years Henco has worked mainly as an actor playing many different roles on South African television shows, but also finds himself in the role of director having written and directed various short films which have been shown at national film festivals.
His film for Jameson First Shot, The Mundane Goddess, is about Hera, the Queen of the Greek Gods, who leads a fairly boring and mundane life among modern day humans. Fed up with her life, she goes and sees a therapist. Henco spent 26 days in LA making the short film which made its debut on Saturday evening.
We chatted to him to find out more about his experience.
When and why did you become interested in filmmaking and how have you gone about pursuing it?
My childhood dream was becoming an actor, and I studied drama. So I have been in the entertainment industry as an actor for the past 12 years. But about 5 years ago I decided to write and direct my own work to generate more acting gigs. Through this process though I realized I actually like writing and directing films and developed a passion for it. I just keep on writing and directing, upload my DIY films on Youtube, and hone my skills every day.
What was your motivation for entering Jameson First Shot?
It is probably the greatest opportunity for a young filmmaker to have. A professional production team, under the guidance of Kevin Spacey with an A-list actor. What more can you ask for?
What inspired the story behind your film, The Mundane Goddess? Did you write it with Uma Thurman in mind?
When entering the competition you know who you are writing for. Thus, I had Uma in mind the whole time, which actually makes it easier and more focussed. I wanted to give her a strong female character and thought, “what is stronger than a goddess?”. I have always loved Greek mythology.
We all struggle with life and try to be happy. It is a universal theme. This film is about being yourself, which is crucial to being happy. I just found it funny that a goddess would talk about her problems to a therapist.
What was the most challenging part about making this film?
Making any film is challenging. Therefore the whole process was challenging. One thing was all the flies. We had a lot of flies where we filmed that ruined some of the shots, but we made it work.
What has been the most rewarding?
The most rewarding were all the relationships that were built through this process.
Can you tell us a bit about what working with Trigger Street has been like?
It was amazing!! As a director you must be able to trust those around you and I could trust each and every person on the team completely. I learned so much.
How does the experience compare to making films in South Africa?
I have only done DIY short films in South Africa, therefore this was completely different. This whole process was exactly like making a Hollywood feature. Amazing experience.
What has been exciting/challenging about making a short film in particular?
A short film is an art in itself. To create in depth characters, which audiences can relate to, and compact an intriguing story within the time is challenging. But it is an exciting challenge.
How would you describe your style or ‘voice’?
I do not know if I have a specific style yet. Maybe I do and just don’t see it. I just like writing stories close to my heart. And I do like to write about stories that convey simplistic lessons. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” stories.
What’s next for you?
This was only an opportunity, now it is up to me to put my head down and work hard to make this opportunity count. So, writing, writing, writing and then hopefully find another story that someone will be willing to produce.