Thuthuka celebrates a decade of educating youth

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Still from the Thutuka TVC

After reaching its decennial milestone in 2016, a South Africa non-governmental organisation, Thuthuka Bursary Fund celebrated ten years of educating youth. It sought a commercial to not only further explain what the bursary fund does but also to encourage more donations. Their advertising agency, HDI Youth enlisted the production and post-production services of Fort. This creative agency too has just celebrated its first decade in the business.

The TVC, dubbed Magic Jar, is based on the concept of Ubuntu, and it flows from the saying; it takes a community to raise a child, explains Fort production manager, Robyn Oettle. The commercial is about a young boy, Themba (Oratile Joshua Ramafora) who is inspired one morning while watching the news of a young man from his neighbourhood – a product of the Thuthuka Bursary Fund – who is now a qualified accountant working in New York. The spark is lit and his grandmother (Ndela Maria Simangele) notices this, and explains that if he fills the empty jar she gives him, what she calls a magic jar, with what little money he can raise from where he is, he can achieve his dreams. “Using this as a springboard, we watch as he does as many chores around the community as possible, to raise money for his tertiary education.” Towards the end of the ad we see that he has been accepted to a university, but despite his efforts, he was unable to raise enough money. It is at this point that his grandmother takes him to their front door, to show a line of community members, each presenting their own jar filled with change. “In a monologue, the now older Themba (Akani Cassius Shiravu) finally realises that all the time he thought he was helping his community, but actually they were helping him,” describes Oettle.

The TVC was shot on Luaname Street, in Diepkloof, Soweto and on the corner of Luonde Street and Marthinus Smuts Drive, in just one day in September 2016. It was filmed using an Arri Alexa, as Oettle explains, for its high format capabilities. She utilised the Arri Alexa with a Matt Box, Follow Focus, ND 3,6,9 and a Polar Filter. The production was lit using Panavision’s media commercial lighting kit. It was then edited in Final Cut Pro, with Tshepo Dladla as lead editor. Sound was mixed at Hey Papa Legend creative audio and music services in Johannesburg and it was graded at Pudding colour services, also based in Johannesburg.

As the ad was created for an NGO there was a limited budget. “It is always difficult to ask crew to work for free or discounted fees, as with the nature of a PSA we had to keep costs very low which can always prove a challenge,” says Fort communications manager, Mikhaila Hunter. “However in the end we partnered with great people who were able to rise to the challenge and make it work. We found with this challenge that equipment and post-production services are a little easier; when they understand that it is a reputable NGO.”

Fort has a number of initiatives that further prove they are passionate about skills development and the upskilling and education of the South African youth, “and so with this value alignment we were happy to support this important cause and lend our services,” Hunter adds. “The team who worked on this project were professional and passionate and everyone involved was happy with and proud of what we achieved.”

The word thuthuka is a Zulu verb that in English means, to develop. This ultimately is the goal of the fund: for students to develop their education and careers, and from there to therefore develop their perspectives and life achievements.

The Thuthuka Bursary Fund sees that annually, between 250 and 300 disadvantaged students are awarded for undergraduate BCom Accounting degrees at accredited universities. The bursary fund is available as a BEE initiative to African or coloured students who aspire to becoming chartered accountants but do not have the funds to study.

The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) accredited universities take in 50 students per university on special undergraduate BCom programmes. The accredited universities that are part of the programme are: University of Johannesburg, University of Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Rhodes University, Stellenbosch University, University of Pretoria, University of the Free State, University of Witwatersrand, and North-West University.

The Thuthuka Bursary Fund is looking for academically strong learners to apply for its 2018 grant. Interested students, particularly those who do exceptionally well in mathematics and have excellent marks that qualify for university entrance may apply. Applications are on the SAICA website and need to be submitted before 30 April 2017.

Key crew:

Director: Amr Singh
Producer: Craig February
Production Manager: Robyn Oettle
1st AD: Michael Chitters
DOP: Gaopie Kabe
Focus Puller: Ruan Barnard
AC: Bonga Nkomo
Loader/VT: Rashid Bhikha
DIT: Nena Buchmann
Gaffer: Zakhele Mavuso
Spark: Bongani Sibeko
Genie Operator: Fanie Manganye
Grip: Willem Du Plessis
Grip Assistant: Tyler Geldenhuys
Sound Technician: Peter Khanda
Art Director: Zelia da Silva
Wardrobe: Nichole Smith
Makeup: Silvia Pitso
Unit: Licorn Mkhabela
Production Assistant: Khosi Ndhlovu

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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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