‘Electrifying’ commercial


Born Free Media’s Khalo Matabane (State of Violence, When We Were Black,
Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon), recently won the pitch to direct two television
commercials (TVCs) for Eskom’s anti-electricity theft project, Operation Khanyisa.

Ad agency Draftfcb Social Marketing came up with the concept for the commercials –
two case studies around various sectors of South African society and electricity theft.
The Draftfcb team included executive creative director Qingqile “Wing Wing’ Mdlulwa,
deputy MD Mariaan van Kaam, creative director Loyiso “The Victor’ Twala, senior
copywriter Suzanne Du Toit, senior art director Engelbert Phiri and agency producer
Beth Maaroganye.

Says Twala: “The motivation for this short film was to make South Africans aware of
Operation Khanyisa, a movement that fights electricity theft by promoting the legal,
safe and efficient use of electricity. With the complexity of the issue, we needed an
approach that would allow us to present information in a way that people could
engage with. This lead us to collaborate with the film director Khalo Matabane, as
opposed to a traditional commercials director, allowing us to develop a multi-layered
South African story with characters the general public could relate to and ultimately
engage with the subject at hand.

“The story is entertaining and emotive; it draws viewers in, keeps their interest and
only reveals at the end that it’s not just a movie, but a message. We are proud of the
final result.’

Matabane adds: “Central to the idea of Operation Khanyisa is the concept of
collective responsibility – the notion that our actions are interlinked, that what we do
in the present has a ripple effect not only for the present but also impacts on the
future. It also speaks to the idea of being an active citizen and ensuring that one of
the most important resources in the country, a resource of national pride, is
preserved. This requires multiple approaches, from engaging with communities and
listening to their side of the story to empowering with them with knowledge so they
are aware of their actions, and punishing them where necessary.

“It was vitally important that the commercial be credible, authentic and honest. The
commercial offers an opportunity to explore and play with powerful words, such as
“Light’ and “Power’. It encourages citizens to be active participants in preserving
electricity and because the destiny of the country is in their hands.’

The first ad was shot from 13 to 16 February in Downtown Johannesburg, Northcliff
Hill, Soweto and Northern Farms. According to Born Free Media executive producer,
Carolyn Carew, the shoot went very well. “The agency and client were very pleased
with what Khalo directed. He is an award-winning long-form director and he created a
powerful narrative that really captures the essence of the story, both in the three-
minute version and the 60 second cutdown. The lead is played by Mudi Mudau.’

DOP (director of photography), Giulio Biccari, shot the commercial on the RED Epic.
“Khalo loves working with Giulio as he is a great narrative DOP and lights beautifully,’
comments Carew. Art direction was by done Sue Steele and editing by Paul West from
Deepend Post Production, with music composed by Zwai Bala. The commercial was
finished at Blade, graded at Pudding and the final mix done by Produce.

States Carew: “The team did a great job – it’s a beautiful piece of work.’ The ad will
flight in mid-April. At the time of going to press the second commercial was in
production in Johannesburg.

By Joanna Sterkowicz

Screen Africa magazine – April 2013


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here