A museum in the making


The South African film industry is to have a dedicated museum under the curatorship
of legendary writer, cinematographer and director Koos Roets (Running Riot; Danger
Games; The Angel, the Bicycle and the Chinaman’s Finger).

In this ever changing world of film and television, equipment becomes obsolete
almost before it is introduced, and what with the demise of local film processing and
printing, yet another era of film is history. Roets is determined to ensure that our
history will be preserved for future generations.

“I have been collecting bits and pieces of equipment since my early days working
with Jamie Uys,’ he says. “My first job with Jamie was in June 1962 and I had to
keep the 35mm magnetic rolls in the mixing studio from “flashing’. This was done on a
machine built by Judex Viljoen which was in fact three playback units and one
recorder (all homemade) connected with bicycle chains to stay in sync! Tapes
tended to stick as they unwound, causing static and hence a “flash’ and
accompanying crackle on the soundtrack. The solution was to have a huge pot of
boiling water on top of a primus stove to moisturise the whole contraption. My job
was to keep the primus going.’

When this machine was eventually replaced Roets retrieved it from the scrapheap
and donated it to the National Film Archives. Unfortunately nobody knows what has
happened to this precious piece of Africana but it prompted Roets’ interest in old film

“Through the years my collection grew and some of it was displayed at Sonneblom
Studios in Johannesburg,’ continues Roets. “When I heard that the Film Lab was
closing down I was first in line to beg equipment from Tony Boyers and everything
(all 40 bakkie loads!) was donated to me.’

During the filming of Roets’ new feature film, Faan se Trein, the executives from
Arriflex visited the set and promised some old cameras, as did Media Film Service.
Tracey Williams from The Refinery also donated two Telecine machines.

“I now have a huge collection of immensely important pieces of equipment that can
be examined by film students or whoever is interested in film,’ comments Roets.

The museum is to be located at the little town of Klaarstroom, which nestles at the
foot of the magnificent Swartberge and is exactly 3kms away from Meiringspoort, the
“Cathedral of God’, as filmmaker Jans Rautenbach calls it. Klaarstroom is the
Hollywood of the Karoo and Roets has already worked on four feature films that have
been shot there, the latest being Faan se Trein.

Situated on the main road from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein, the passing traffic
count during holiday season is more than a thousand vehicles an hour.

The museum will exhibit all equipment associated with film, both still and motion
picture, and especially gear that was used in the South African film industry.

“We will also have a 50-seater cinema where all the old South African features will
be regularly screened. The plan is to have at least two local film festivals a year.
Being only 50km from Oudtshoorn, we also plan to hook up with the Klein Karoo
Kunste Fees,’ notes Roets.

If you would like to donate something to the museum please email


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