One ad can make a profound impact

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Behind the scenes on the Afrika Tikkun TVC

The Like Change viral commercial for Afrika Tikkun has changed 180 lives to date. Afrika Tikkun is a non-profit funding underprivileged children, their tagline: “Developing young people from cradle to career.” They needed to create an intensely emotive commercial to pull on viewers’ heart strings creating awareness, finding benefactors and garnering Facebook likes. Flash Forward Productions created just that. A poignant piece that won’t just have you reaching for the tissues, it will have you taking action, simply because a like can make a change.

“Through the Like Change social movement, their aim was to alleviate poverty in South Africa by getting as many children as possible through the cradle to career model,” explains director and producer Ryan Peimer of Flash Forward Productions. “For the first time, social media, the media and the country at large came together to bring the much-needed change in the lives of many in South Africa. For every 200 likes achieved from watching the commercial, one life changed.” How a life changed in this case actually means that a child was fully funded through schooling, healthcare and social services from preschool to employment.

Flash Forward Productions were approached by Popimedia, a social media ad agency, to create the commercial from inception to completion. “The brief was quite vague – to create something emotive and touching that will inspire viewers to click like,” says Peimer.

“Something emotive” was taken to the next level of heart wrenching. The commercial follows a young underprivileged boy, an orphan who lives in a township and looks at life from the outside. A voiceover expresses what is important in life while we see this boy contrasted against the harsh reality of all he lacks. “We wanted to end it all off with a powerful emotive finish where the young boy is in his ragged, torn clothes sitting in the township with a graduation hat on,” says Peimer of the tear jerker ending. “In fact, this end shot was so powerful that it’s on several billboards across the country,” he adds.

Peimer scouted Johannesburg to find a series of suitable locations, “to get our message across within different innovative and contrasting environments, from a school, to a township, to a high-end restaurant, park and university,” he explains.

“We wanted to go for a grey, de-saturated, milky type look and feel in order to assist with the contrast in the beautiful optimistic voiceover,” he describes. Peimer explains that a lot of the commercial was shot in slow motion at 60pfs and 120fps. “Using an array of slow motion tracking shots, clearly plotted focus pulls, some cinéma vérité and handheld for the more grungy scenes, juxtaposed with a deeply heart-felt voiceover, I wanted to create a beautiful mix of visual artistry that would hit the hearts of the viewers,” says Peimer.

Peimer opted to use the Sony F55, of which he says he is a big fan, claiming, “I feel it gives the Arris and Reds a go. I love the soft filmic look that F55 gives and of course its ability to shoot 120fps.” He adds that because it was mostly an outdoor shoot he used 12 X 12 scrims to bounce and diffuse natural light and with that he had four straight and four curved tracks and dolly for grips. It was shot over one and a half days and released on SABC.

“Two of the biggest challenges were time and a very tight budget,” says Peimer. “It’s always a stretch to deliver a high-quality product on a shoe-string budget but I wasn’t prepared to comprise on the production value of this piece as I was in love with our script. Hence, we pulled favours, begged and borrowed, and worked closely with Popimedia to see how they could assist us in keeping the costs down.” He further adds that “being on set directing this was such an amazing experience. It was very close to my heart and I was determined to execute a powerful final piece. With TV commercials you’re always selling something or punting a brand. But with our Like Change commercial, for the first time ever I was honoured enough to be selling change; selling individual transformation and selling the futures of our disadvantaged South African children. And for that, I’m so grateful that this project came to me.”

Key crew:

  • Producer: Ryan Peimer
  • Production Co-ordinator: Athini Maseti
  • Scriptwriters: Ryan Peimer and Daniel Peimer
  • Director: Ryan Peimer
  • Cinematographer: Daniel Peimer
  • Focus Puller / DIT: Willem Engelbrecht
  • Gaffer: William Masuku
  • Key Grip: William Mnisi
  • Offline Edit: Daniel Peimer
  • Online Edit:Ryan Peimer
  • Colourist: Yoav Dagan
  • Sound Design and Final Mix: Dean Konidaris
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Cera-Jane Catton
Cera-Jane Catton is a writer and journalist with years of experience in community newspapers, blogging and freelance journalism. She has worked in a cache of capacities, often finding herself behind or in front of the cameras, intentionally and less so. She has been a stunt double in two Bollywood movies, has worked in various capacities on a number of natural history documentaries, and other international productions shot in South Africa. Cera is a former Screen Africa journalist.

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