Elvis Hyena Phiri of ‘Hyena Phiri Production’ | #ArtistOfTheMonth – September
One of the heaviest weights of responsibility the arts & entertainment industry has had to carry over the years was translating South African stories to film. These include folklore tales passed through generations around night fires, the racial wars our forefathers endured, the diverse cultures within our communities & many other moments of storytelling within our borders. Therefore it’s important that we celebrate the creative filmmakers who’ve taken it upon themselves to carry this responsibility and pass on the torch to the next generation. Elvis ‘Hyena’ Phiri, is one of these brave storytellers who has dedicated his life to translating life’s moments in South Africa through the lens. Today, we celebrate his contribution to this profession as #ArtistOfTheMonth for September.
The film industry in South Africa has been one of the most critiqued in the entertainment scene with many believing the country still has a long way to go. Many believe that our industry has been invaded by western cultures and creatives in it have failed to tell our own stories. Artists like Hyena have been at the forefront of this profession trying to change this perception by tackling issues & stories that we can relate to. His very first film “It’s a Small World”, was a short film that touches on issues of poverty, fatherhood & bullying in our black communities. It gained him a lot of buzz and popularity in his community, certifying him as one of the future filmmakers to look out for.
Starting out in Film & His Fathers Influence…
Elvis ‘Hyena’ Phiri is a creative photographer, videographer, director & founder of ‘Hyena Phiri Productions’ who grew up in Soweto & Soshanguve. His first baby steps into the world of film is one of the rarest sightings in black families considering the taboo perspective many parents carry towards the creative scene. His father, a musician & songwriter played a vital role in building his foundation & continued to be a huge influence overtime. His own career could explain his acceptance towards his son’s decision to embark on a journey in the arts. Besides his father, Elvis says the Phiri family has an abundance of creativity flowing through their blood dating back to his grandmother who used to weave mats using just plastics. The new generation haven’t fallen short of this bloodline trend, with each finding belonging in different fields like fashion where they can continue the legacy.
Growing up and watching his father work on his creative craft, Hyena was inspired. He noted how whenever his father would have to pay everytime he needed alterations on his music video, which prompted his eagerness to learn the skill. He soon fell in love with film and decided this would be his new journey. The two would work together day & night shooting music videos and subsequently growing each others gift. It was only a matter of time after finishing high school when he decided to enroll at Tshwane University of Technology to further enhance his talent. Hyena now spends most of his days with his daughter teaching her photographer and other life skills that he has inherited from his own father.
On Working Relationships & Collaborations…
Over the years, Hyena has been harnessing his talent & making a name for himself in the industry. He has been working with many local upcoming artists and big names in the music scene. He mentions how working alongside the likes of Kelly Khumalo & Chad Da Don has helped him grow. His recent projects include a Netflix special called ‘Suicide Club’ where he is the Director Of Photography. Elvis has now immersed himself into the various facets of filmmaking including advertising, movies, events & continues to grow his production company and teach the skill to those around him.
The 20th Century has seen many individuals flocking into storytelling through film, considerig the influx of devices that make it easier to execute your vision. Hyena Phiri’s story is definetely an inspiration to many aspiring young creatives who wish to relay their life’s story and of those around them. Today we celebrate him & his production company as #ArtistOfTheMonth for September, wishing them major success and growth beyond years.
You can watch full interview below: