From the producer’s mouth: Natalia Segerman

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Natalia Segerman

We chat to Sketchbook Studios’ producer Natalia Segerman about what it was like growing up with a famous father, her career highlights and challenges, and everything in between…

How did you come to find yourself working in film? Was a career in production always the plan?

No, not at all. The plan was to be a musician. I’ve kind of fallen into every job I’ve ever had and it was exactly the same for this one. It was a happy accident.

What does the job of a producer entail?  

You basically have to take people’s ideas and turn them into reality. You need to maintain a constant overview of the entire project, which includes organising the crew, locations, equipment, budget, schedule and everything in between.

As someone who grew up as the child of a famous father (Stephen ‘Sugar Segerman of Searching for Sugarman fame), what was that experience like and how has it shaped your career? If at all…

When the whole Rodriguez thing happened in 1998, I was only 12 so it always just felt normal that Rodriguez would come to South Africa and hang out at my house.

But my dad has only become more well-known in the past few years since the movie came out. He was better known as the owner of Mabu Vinyl. When I was growing up, I always had this joke that anyone I met had first met my dad. If anything, my dad gave me more street cred, which was pretty funny. Through my dad, I always had a really big interest in music and movies. A career in entertainment was inevitable.

What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date?  

My career as a producer has been relatively short, so I’d have to say the short film we made in the beginning of the year as a promo for the UJC. We normally shoot short webisodes in our studio and that was our first big outside shoot. There were many locations and a much bigger crew and cast than normal. I learnt a lot doing that job.

What have been your career highlight(s) to date?

Working with SuzelleDIY has been so rewarding. It’s so much fun to be part of a brand that people love and really respond to. Making and publishing our DIY book and then doing the publicity tour was so crazy because we got to meet so many fans and we realised that a lot of our followers are kids. It felt good to know that Suzelle is a positive role model for young girls in a world where role models are lacking. That was a big moment for me.

What’s the worst part of the job?  

Working long hours on a shoot is always tough but luckily we’re all passionate about the content that we’re creating.

What kind of content do you enjoy creating and why? 

I love producing content that makes people laugh and inspires people. There is so much negative content everywhere you look and we take pride in the fact that we only put out positive stuff.

What are you currently working on?

We are working on a TV show for Showmax called Tali’s Wedding Diary. It stars Julia Anastasopoulos (SuzelleDIY) and it’s going to blow people away.

It’s edgy and extremely relatable and funny. It’s a dream project and we are having the best time on set.

What is your dream shoot location?

I’m spoilt because I mostly shoot in studio, which is comfortable and easy. When it comes to locations, I like a place where we can shoot many scenes in one place and have plenty of space to take over and leave our gear everywhere without worrying about safety, etc. I’m happy when everyone has enough space to work. I know it’s a bit of a practical answer but as a producer that’s the kind of thing I think about.

If you could remake any Hollywood classic with an African twist, which would it be and why?  

I personally don’t like remakes. I’d much rather people spend money and energy producing new content and telling new stories.

Who are your mentors? Why them? 

I don’t have any mentors per se, having being thrown straight into a producing role. I’m very inspired by people I meet who are able to manage their lives and their minds and have a great attitude. You can learn anything just by showing up and doing the work. It’s the people I work with who always have a smile on their face and a calm demeanour that really inspire me.

What advice do you have for young people wanting to follow in your career footsteps?  

Having an education helps but it’s not always possible or essential. What’s great about the film industry is that anyone can start at the bottom and work their way up. Start working immediately. Take any opportunity that comes your way and get involved. Work hard, ask a lot of questions and say yes to everything.

What’s next for Natalia the producer?  

I’m really keen to start developing some new characters for Sketchbook Studios. We have a lot of great ideas and amazing people to work with. Watch this space…

If you weren’t working in film what would you be doing? 

I would be an artist. I love illustration and design. Before this job I was working in interiors and stage design.

If you could work with one director, dead or alive, who would it be?

Preferably someone who’s alive… (sorry, bad joke). I would love to work with Chris Lilley (Summer Heights High). I think that everything he makes is comedy gold and I love how fearless he is.

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