Afrikaans fish-out-of-water comedy feature film Jimmy in Pienk is slated for release in the second half of 2013.
According to director Hanneke Schutte, the biggest theme of quirky new Afrikaans comedy Jimmy in Pienk is “being yourself’.
“It’s about an honest, hard- working young farmer who has never been to the city, but in order to save his family farm he goes to get help from his rich, gay uncle. In the city he has to work in the world of hairstyling where everyone tries to change him and he is a complete fish out of water,’ explains Schutte.
The film stars Louw Venter (The Most Amazing Show, Semi Soet) as Jimmy, alongside Gys de Villiers – who plays twins, as well as Terence Bridgett, Gerard Rudolf, Tinarie van Wyk-Loots and Shaleen Surtie-Richards.
Schutte started developing the film in 2006 for a pitching competition run by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and the UK Film Council. Jimmy in Pienk was one of four genre-specific loglines picked from the entries to be developed with a UK script editor and a local script editor.
Says Schutte: “My genre was fish-out-of-water comedy, and it was a wonderful process. The development of the script happened over about a year, and I learned so much from the script editors, Justin Trefgarne from the UK and Thandi Brewer in South Africa.’
After the script was developed, the NFVF started working with Schutte to get the film funded. “About two years ago the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) got on board, and then Zaheer Goodman-Bhyat (Confessions of a Gambler, Skeem) from Light and Dark Films got involved as producer.’
Says Goodman-Bhyat: “I met Hanneke several years ago and was impressed by her comedic ideas. When the script came to me it was in decent shape, but I felt that it needed more work and that it would make much more sense in Afrikaans. Hanneke and I discussed these ideas with the NFVF and once we were all on the same page regarding the film we wanted to make, getting on board was easy.’
He adds, however, that funding a film is never simple. “Arranging finance on independent films is an endless series of tackling insurmountable obstacles every day followed by brief waves of relief and starting again – except I lied about the relief.’
The film’s budget, estimated at R5.5m, was eventually funded by the NFVF, IDC and the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) rebate.
Production started in July 2012 and wrapped four weeks later. Says Schutte: “We shot in and around Cape Town, including locations on a farm outside Philadelphia, a house in Constantia and a hair salon in De Waterkant.’
According to Schutte, she learnt some important lessons while directing her first feature film. “Next time I won’t shoot in Cape Town in the winter – being out in the elements in the rain and the wind was quite challenging and as we didn’t have weather insurance we lost some time and had to juggle around indoor and outdoor shooting. However, the weather also added to the story, which in the end, worked out beautifully.
“For example, when we were shooting quite a sad section of the film on the farm, the weather was dreary – we had dark skies and it was quite dramatic. When we went back to shoot the very last scene of the movie, which is a very happy scene, we had the most beautiful sunny skies.’
Schutte also wishes they had more time to shoot the film. “I wish we had more time for performances, more time to make sure we frame everything beautifully, and more time to tweak the art direction and work on the script. We had to do a few rewrites along the way, and being both the writer and director I had to constantly switch between those roles and wear both hats at the same time.’
Jimmy in Pienk was shot by up and coming director of photography (DOP) Jacques Koudstaal on a RED Epic camera. Says Schutte: “We also got to borrow the RED Mysterium for a short while – we got an amazing deal from Media Film Service in Cape Town. We had a very small crew so it was challenging for our grips and DOP, but everyone worked incredibly well together.’
She notes that, while casting took “quite a while’ they eventually found exactly what they were looking for in each character.
“We had a lot of comedians and other funny people on set. Terence Bridgett was hilarious and fantastic in his role as Bunny. Louw Venter was phenomenal – so easy to work with and so funny as a person. He was also on a very strict diet and gym regime to bulk up for the role as he wanted to really look the part of a farmer and sound like a farmer. He grew a massive beard as well, and it was successful, because at one point he was mistaken for a real farmer.’
According to Schutte, Venter’s dog also plays a big role in the film. “He would have just have had a small role at the beginning in the farm scene, but he was so amazing that we wrote him into the whole story. He was one of the best actors on set, a little one-take wonder.’
The film was edited by Zelmari Degenaar and grading was done at Searle Street post.
Goodman Bhyatt believes that South Africa has not seen a local film like Jimmy in Pienk before. “It’s a well written and brilliantly executed comedy with genuine comedic stars and plays to a family audience without being lavatorial. It’s aimed at an Afrikaans family audience and will have some niche interest in the gay community.’
By Linda Loubser
screen africa magazine – january 2013