NERUSHA MAHARAJ’s company is called Visual Network SA, which is a one stop production store in KwaZulu-Natal.
The company’s services include movie productions, with locations, accommodation, catering and transport crew – anything that one would need to shoot films in KZN. Nerusha is also the city producer of the 48 hour film project, which is an exciting short film competition. The competition has been around for the past 21 years in 130 cities around the globe. She runs the KZN chapter.
Her company together with the KZN Film Commission, is also developing 20 digital entrepreneurs. This project is for youth or for anyone that has a YouTube channel or a digital platform with the goal of taking them to the next level. Visual Network SA assists corporate clients with brand placements. They’ve assisted over 50 movie productions so far, from telenovelas to short films, television commercials, Nollywood block busters that are on Netflix, to the recent win of The Woman King.
A BIG WIN
In business, the Visual Network SA has been nominated by Sentech as a finalist in the Start-up category for a tech start-up for the 48 hour project and for its other social development projects.
“We encourage mobile filming, we teach youth how to use their mobile phones, to make content, share content and monetise it, so that was quite a big win for us,” said Nerusha. The company was also a second runner up in the Durban Tourism Awards 2022 in the Film & TV sector.
In addition, Visual Network SA was selected as a finalist in the Standard Bank KZN Top Business Awards in the small business category. Nerusha was selected by The Women of Wonder Awards as one of the top 50 influential women in South Africa by the Eastern Eye Magazine. She commented, “We’ve had a lot of wins but for me, the biggest win would be going into informal settlements and rural areas where we are able to develop and uplift the community. We get kids and aged people involved with the camera, to be in front of the camera, to be extras, and we source crew from an area where we are filming.”
Nerusha’s other achievements include being the brand ambassador for the late King Goodwill Zwelithini’s Royal brand of wine, textile, and coffee, the Bayede brand.
Nerusha says that she is inspired by her clients; their feedback, hearing thank you Nerusha, the location was amazing, I loved the crew, or the caterer was excellent. She says, “The feedback from clients keeps me motivated, as well as the ability to help bring people into the industry: providing opportunities for them, for me, that is really motivating and inspiring.”
She is further inspired by the participants in the 48 hour platform as the project gives an opportunity to people to enter the industry. “Because we have workshops beforehand, we take them through the whole process of film making. They get to make a short film in one weekend, thereafter they see the results on a big screen and there’s a whole awards’ ceremony. Seeing people who know nothing about the industry enter it, and the excitement in them, is what drives me and inspires me.”
Some of the challenges Nerusha has experienced would be with finding locations. “People in KZN aren’t aware that the movie industry is booming here. It has been a challenge to convince people that we are a legitimate company, and that production and filming does take place and we would love to use your home,” explained Nerusha.
Another challenge is language barriers and hierarchy in rural areas. If there is an induna or a chief, the company always employs a local, who knows the area and they then do all the negotiations as they know the process. Nerusha would love to support every film maker that needs assistance to participate in the 48 hour film project. “I have been reaching out to organisations and corporates to support film makers.” They will be getting brand exposure in cinemas as well as internationally, through supporting a young film maker, you never know what their future holds.”
GOALS FOR THE FUTURE
Another goal would be to host the 48 hour international competition in KZN. That is where the 130 cities around the world compete for the top 10 films, which get screened at the Cannes Film Festival. “It’s never been done on African soil, so that is definitely on my short-term goals for the next two to three years.” Her overall goal for the company is to be the leading media production service company and agency in South Africa.
GO AFTER WHAT YOU WANT
Nerusha says that her advice to younger women would be to not be afraid to go after what you want. Hard work always pays off and helping somebody else, always comes back to you. She adds, “Something that I’ve noticed, don’t feel shy to ask. We always get intimidated, or we feel we are not allowed to ask somebody for help. But you will be surprised at how people are willing to help you, hold your hand and take you up.”
Commenting on her personal life Nerusha says that she wishes that she had more time. “I would spend more time painting in my personal time, I love painting, just walking, taking hikes with my sons and my husband, spending family quality time together, that obviously just relaxes me and that’s my me time. Also, what helps me a lot is going for a walk, putting on my earphones and listening to something motivational and inspirational or listening to leaders and CEOs, that is very therapeutic to me.”