Breaking away from the norm


Cape Town director Jacobus Kriel has adopted a business model that trades local
flavour in for the opportunity to capitalise on international markets.

Though a South African creation, family-friendly adventure movie Trailer-Made was
conceptualised with the principal intention of being exported internationally.

Produced by Kriel’s production company JaC Productions and Innovation Films, the
film features American leads Tyler Pongratz and Merle Schenk alongside supporting
local actors Kwezi Kobus and Zukhanye Sigwela and tells the story of a father and
son who travel to South Africa and subsequently find themselves staying in a
junkyard. In search of ideas for a film script the two embark on a journey of
imagination which reconnects them as family.

Kriel began working on the project strictly from a producer’s point of view, which
meant focusing on producing a product which would appeal to international
distributors, executing production on a skinny budget so as to offer his private US
funder a low-risk investment, as well as establishing valuable relationships with
global partners.

“You have to learn the rules in order to break them,’ says Kriel, “you can only get
more creative once you have established relationships with distributors that are
keen to sell your work. My theory is to rather start off getting money in the bank
and in time, once relationships are established and there’s an element of trust, you
can stray from the model and start playing.’

Traditionally local filmmakers have been encouraged to produce films that are
culturally relevant and that maximise on the many untold unique stories which exist
in South Africa and the continent at large.

That said there is an increased awareness in global markets as to the influence
which international territories hold on box office earnings and in recent years there
has been a greater effort by Hollywood studios to appeal to these audiences. This
can be seen in films like GI Jane which purposefully included a foreign friendly cast
to dilute the strong US military theme.

Kriel maintains that the ultimate plan is to be able to bring more work and
opportunities to South Africa and to incorporate more local actors and themes in his
films, but for now he says passion projects will have to take a back seat. “Writers
normally have stories in their heart that they want to tell. But those stories get
shelved because investors want a return on their investment. If you want to get a
story out there you need to start by thinking like a producer.’

Production details

Production companies: JaC Productions and Innovation Films
Director: Jacobus Kriel
Producer: Pieter Pohl
Screenplay: Stefan Enslin and Jacobus Kriel
Music: Julian Wiggins
Cinematography: Paul Henry Nel
Costume and wardrobe: Zelda Minnaar
Art director: Werner Von Caues
Editor: Elmien Fourie
Lead cast: Tyler Pongratz, Merle Schenk
Gear supplied by: Zulu Sierra Productions
Post-production facilities: Editing: JaC Productions Grading: 744 Digital Final sound
mix: Triplane Films Visual effects: Ruan Pienaar and Mohamed Moola


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