Rungano Nyoni

Rungano graduated from MA Screen: Acting in 2009. In 2011 she wrote and directed Mwansa The Great, which earned nominations for an African Academy Award and a BAFTA. In 2012 she wrote the short film The Mass Of Men which was selected at over 180 film festivals, and won over 70 awards. She is currently working on her first feature film, I Am Not A Witch, set in Zambia.

How did you first hear about Central Saint Martins?

I think most people have heard about Central Saint Martins. I think it has a solid international reputation.

What appealed to you about the MA Screen: Acting course?

The idea of working in cinema was the reason I applied. When I did apply, I was interested in being an actress, but by the second year I knew I wanted to be a director and I think my acting classes helped me become a better director. I learnt how to write and direct through learning how to act.

How would you describe the course?

The course was challenging at times but flexible. Which I really appreciated. I always think it's important to have space to explore and discover and we were certainly afforded that. One of my favourite classes was with our course leader at the time, Alan Dunnett. It was a simple exercise involving two people and a bottle of water. I will never forget that class. It was one of the early exercises and what I learnt from that I have carried through until today. My devising classes also stayed with me. It made such sense to me and I've tried to bring it into how I direct. Thank god for devising classes.

What would you tell your first year self now?

Ha, ha! Nothing - ignorance is bliss.

What did you love most about Central Saint Martins? 

At the time we were at Back Hill, mixed with the undergrads and all the other courses. We we all packed on one floor, jostling for space but it felt just like a family. Maybe that's more Drama Centre than Central Saint Martins.

You studied MA Screen: Acting but are now directing, how did this come about? Did studying the course help you decide this was the route you wanted to take?

I decided that I wanted to pursue directing in my second year. I just realised that I was far more into storytelling behind the camera than in front of it. I wouldn't have known that had I not taken the course. I'm so grateful for that experience and realisation. I never, ever thought I would want to direct, I didn't know it was an option. At the time I used to tether myself (stalk) the directors on the director pathway. I used to try and get into their classes but I wasn't allowed. 

Pricscilla, one of the directors taught me how to edit. Max and Tan taught me about cinematography. I worked closely with Patricia and she just taught me a lot about the kind of director I wanted to be. She taught me about dramaturgy, working with actors, lots of things. We still work together now. She was my acting coach and casting supervisor on my film.

What are you working on at the moment?

I've just finished shooting my first feature film in Zambia. I am now in postproduction and gearing to finish it in May this year. Fingers crossed.