Rokunda rides COVID-19 wave with DirectRo
Friday, 9 October 2020
rokundaWithin two weeks, the studio was built and launched with the performance of a music production
South Africa - Rokunda Netshiluvhi of DirectorRo has managed to ride the COVID-19 wave and come out tops, using this time to learn, establish himself as a lighting designer and set up a virtual platform at Vision View Productions based in Cosmo Business Park, Johannesburg.
Rokunda resigned from full-time employment at rental company Murangi Productions and started his own company as a freelancer in November 2019. “I decided to register myself as a business so that I could be accountable in everything I do,” he explains. “If freelancers pay attention, they can do what I’m doing. It starts off by thinking of yourself as a business instead of living hand-to-mouth.
“Many freelancers rely on receiving a phone call and being booked for an event. They think that to get work, someone has to call, instead of thinking let me try and make something myself, let me pitch an idea to people, let me do something for myself. If work can’t come to you, find work. For people to trust and take you seriously, present yourself as a business, ensure you have a business profile and have a voice outside your personal self that will enable you to work for a company or event.”
With gratitude to his former employer, Murangi Productions, where Rokunda worked since 2016 as an audio engineer and a self-taught lighting designer with an interest in technical directing, Rokunda established DirectorRo.
Working as hard as possible to make an income, Rokunda pushed hard. More work trickled through in January, and then, just as his calendar started filling up with bookings for the upcoming year, COVID-19 happened.
“How I normally react to situations that terrify me is to start planning,” Rokundo shares. “When I feel I’m locked in a space and can’t breathe, I have learnt from my mom. My mom is a strong woman who will never allow you to put yourself down. She would say, get up, stop being a chicken, find a way out of this, you can do it.” And Rokunda did.
With live events initially banned with the Covid-19 lockdown, Rokunda pulled out the skills he had shelved over the years to help him. With tools like Photoshop and Sketch Up, he created a brochure to advertise his designing ability - another skill he previously learnt online - and was soon commissioned to create designs and renders for people’s apartments, restaurants and mini-restaurants.
In addition, he and his friends made a pact to gain as much knowledge as possible during the lockdown period. “So literally every single day I learnt something I didn’t know before,” he explains. “I probably watched all the MA Lighting videos presented by Christian Jackson on YouTube. On top of that, I would attend webinars and I made a vow that this thing would not break me but would build me one way or another.”
Rokunda also started an online chat show from home, and then, on a day, received a phone call. Vision View Productions, known for their live outside broadcasting, live or pre-recorded studio work, live streaming and music and drama productions, needed someone to do the lighting for an on-line show. What was meant to be a one-day job for Rokunda, organically expanded.
Once at Vision View Productions, Rokunda couldn't help but notice a large, empty and unused warehouse and his mind raced with ideas. “I made four proposals to utilise the space, and with the fifth proposal, I convinced them.
“I have three partners including Thakadu Productions who supply the LED screens, TMM Productions for the stage, structure and some of the lighting, and Vision View for the cameras and certain graphic work. I plan the shows, supply the crew and pull everything together.”
Within two weeks, the studio was built and launched with the performance of a music production.

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