Stars of Tomorrow 2022: Runyararo Mapfumo (writer/director) | Features

Runyararo Mapfumo thought she was going to have a quiet year, researching and writing her first feature film. But she is now in high demand after directing episodes of Netflix’s third season. Sex education.

“Never say never is my thing, and there are a lot of interesting things to explore before I embark on my feature film,” says writer/director Mapfumo, whose talent was picked up by Netflix producers after seen its eclectic range of shorts, in particular the BBC/Google Arts supported program Symmy sensational!.

Her cinematic ambitions began as a teenager when she and her twin sister appeared as extras in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. “I was more interested in what was happening behind the camera. I wanted to do what David Yates was doing,” says Mapfumo, who went on to study film and visual effects at Sheffield Hallam University.

Her decision to take a mid-term sabbatical paid off when she accepted a job as visual effects assistant on Alfonso Cuaron’s film. Gravity before working as a racer for the company VFX MPC. “I didn’t know anyone in the industry, so it was a lot of emailing and a lot of overtime,” she explains.

After short Masterpiecewhich was screened at the BFI London Film Festival 2017, she worked as an assistant to JJ Abrams on the set of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalkershooting another short film, dawn in the darkduring the five-day break of Christmas 2018. “Being able to show [Abrams] a cut and ask him what he thinks about it, you don’t often get that experience,” she says.

Mapfumo has already obtained support from Film4 for its first feature film darkness descends, “a character study mixed with science fiction fantasy”. It is produced by her own DessyMak Productions, which she originally set up to develop her shorts, but is now home to other talent. She’s also developing another feature of her own, a music-influenced 1990s drama Sonny and his flowers. “I like to keep things varied and it feeds another creative side of me,” she says.

Contact: Christian Ogunbanjo, United Agents