By Darren Gilbert

“Truth be told, as much as I loved to act, I was always going to go into directing,” she admits. “I even had a set idea of how I was going to achieve it.” After studying at the University of Stellenbosch, she was going to move to Los Angeles to study directing. But of course, life had other plans for her. And it wasn’t going to be as easy as she thought. In fact, it wasn’t even going to be conventional.

For starters, instead of moving to LA after studying, she found herself in Europe. Her goal had been deferred while she worked to pay off her student loans and furthered her overall film knowledge, she says. “No matter where I was, and no matter what I was doing to pay the bills, I would always do courses towards filmmaking.”

Next up was London where she continued to study filmmaking, screenwriting and producing while working. Her aim was to move to LA from there. But again, fate intervened, this time in the form of the man she fell in love with and married. Carlini subsequently moved in the opposite direction, to Australia, before finding herself in Fiji. However, instead of this being a bad thing, it proved to be the catalyst for Carlini that started her career.

“When my husband – a civil engineer – was placed in Fiji, I decided I was going to go with,” says Carlini. “And not only was I going to go with, but I was going to go to Fiji and work in the film industry.” To put this into perspective, this was at a time when Fiji, as a country, didn’t have much of a film industry. Hollywood were making films there but that was about it. And in walked someone looking not only to work in the industry, but effectively build it from the ground up.

“I arrived in Fiji and I went straight to the then Fiji Institute of Technology and told them they needed acting, screenwriting and filmmaking,” she says. Fortunately, they listened to her, which resulted in her compiling and pioneering the entire syllabus for the South Pacific. A proud moment indeed, she admits, but it’s also testament to the fact that an unconventional route can pay off.

“There were all these things that happened organically that helped me to get to where I wanted to be,” she says. “But not in the traditional or conventional way and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” If she had gone the LA route, she would have been one of a million people doing it that way. To this day, she never did make it to LA to study. Instead, she’s based in South Africa, having come home after her stint in the Pacific Islands.

She’s also the president of her own film company, Towerkop Creations, where she focuses on female-driven heroine stories. That itself comes with challenges. While in the past it was about getting into the industry, today, it’s about representing females and telling their stories.

“The reality is that the amount of pushing you need to do and the amount of no’s you have to endure to get your film made – that’s why very few people make it to the top,” she says. “The fact that I’m both a woman and mother in a male-dominated industry doesn’t make it any easier.” That, however, isn’t going to stop her.

In fact, it’s what pushes her to try even harder. A case in point is her film, Alison, which has its world premiere at the 2016 Encounters Film Festival on 3 June. For four years, her husband watched her work herself to the bone, working longer hours than him for far less appreciation. For every yes she received, she had already endured 100 no’s. But she persevered because it’s a story that’s both inspiring to her and needs to be told.

“The statistics may say that there are not enough women in the industry,” she says. “The statistics will also show that it’s incredibly hard to be successful as a woman in this industry.” But so what? Are we just going to moan about the statistics or are we going to do something about them?

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