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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.


President of Towerkop Creations, Uga Carlini is a South African award winning filmmaker. She is a writer, director and producer whose international career has grown in the United Kingdom, Australia and Fiji. She was voted one of 2012’s most extraordinary women of SA. Her feature film, which is currently on circuit, Alison, has won local and international awards among many nominations.


I have always wanted to make and be in movies, I studied drama and specialised in film making and acting, and then acted professionally overseas, doing workshops in different countries. I moved from actress to full time producing, screenwriting and directing when I went to Fiji, and wrote the syllabus for the university there, where we got to make movies for two years. I came back after that, Towerkop Creations was born and the rest, as they say, is history. One of my favourite quotes is Quentin Tarantino saying, “While you were studying films, I was watching films.” The best way to learn is to do. Nothing can give you what you learn from the team you work with, every story has new bridges to cross and it is those bridges that make you stronger as a filmmaker and as a storyteller.


I think I was born with that moment. It was always my final destination.


It is everywhere, and usually in the simple moments is where I find it. I love stories, I love South African stories. Inspiration is sometimes in the sound of the ocean, or in a moment with my boys. I am Inspired daily, even in the non-inspiring moments. When I watch a fantastic film I am inspired, when I watch a bad film I am inspired again, because it all adds to the melting pot of telling stories and inspiration is where it all starts, and it keeps me going.


I have many. One of my greatest mentors was Paul Ian Johnson, the great screenwriter and my dear friend. My dad was one of my mentors who used to write me poetry from a very young age. My two boys are my mentors on a daily basis, my friends, and the love of my life. Sad moments, challenges, these are all mentors. The greatest mentors remain the stories we tell.


Currently, with my business partner Dani Barnard from Baked Media, we are working on a hybrid reality show for VI television called Die Bergs, about a singing sensation. It will flight in April. We are also in development of some strong feature projects.


As long as it’s a story where I can do unique things, in a hybrid kind of fashion, I am happy. Feature films are my first love, even though I am absolutely enjoying the reality TV style that we are currently doing.


I think you cannot have one, especially with a heavy project like Alison, we actually laughed so much. As a director and as a producer it is very important to keep the humour on set, and laugh at ourselves, laugh at the funny things and even have a giggle when things get tough. Humour is my thing and my slate is very comedy driven now. I want to make people laugh for a long time and laugh with them.


There at least a million every day, even if I am not shooting. The moment we closed finance on Alison. When the cameras rolled for the first time on set. When we got into our first international film festival. Becoming the first South African film to ever get in with Dances for Films. When my crew were nominated at the SAFTA’s. The moment Alison said yes. Winning the Muse Award. Winning the best African documentary. The nominations, the international awards we have won. It is also the private proud moments, when Christia nailed a moment as Alison, my incredible actors who were so brave with this project. My crew problem solving. The gratitude is never ending.


I have been blessed to have so far worked with people I love and adore. The door is open to work with many fantastic South African talents… so far I have been humbled by our incredible local crew and the talent we have in SA.


As much as I love them, a big dream would be that I would much rather make movies that become classics.


That I never had to sleep so there could be more time in a day to do the things we do, and that there was a limitless pit of money where budget wasn’t a problem. I think this would be a superpower that we would all love with all our hearts.


They say that if you do what you love, you haven’t worked a day in your life, and I see myself in that incredibly lucky position. I think telling the stories I really wanted to tell, producing my own stuff and now joining forces with Barnard, between the two of us and what we have on our slates and our plans – this is my dream shoot location. This is my ultimate African version of stories, this is my proudest moment, this is my funniest moment, this is what I enjoy creating content wise, this is my inspiration. This is everything you have just asked me in these questions, as all part of my dream, I get to be in my dream location every single day.


I would be dead. I would be miserable. There is nothing else.

SA scenery exquisitely captured in iconic feature

A true story based on the winners of the 2014 Dusi Marathon, Beyond The River hits South African big screens on 28 April 2017. This remarkable story is brought to life by Heartlines and Quizzical Pictures. The film was written by Craig Freimond and Robbie Thorpe, it was furthermore directed by Freimond and produced by Thorpe, Harriet Gavshon and Ronnie Apteker.

Incredible scenes throughout the film showcase South Africa’s spectacular landscapes including the breath-taking coastline and dams of Kwa-Zulu Natal. The shoot locations which portray SA like a Hollywood classic include Gauteng and KZN: Emmarentia, both the dam and the suburb, Westcliffe, Melville Koppies, Orlando Dam and surrounds, the Vaal, various locations along the Msunduzi  (aka Dusi), Tugela and Umngeni rivers, Pietermaritzburg, Durban, Inanda dam, Blue Lagoon and the Morningside Sports Medicine Unit. They used drones for all aerial shots to show the scale and the vastness of the landscape. Principal photography took place between 26 October and 12 December 2015. They shot a two-day second production unit at the Dusi in February 2015, and a further second unit shoot of two days in January 2016.

The film is based on the story of Siseko Ntondini and Piers Cruickshanks, two men from vastly different backgrounds brought together by a determination to win gold in the largest canoeing event on the African continent, and one of the world’s most popular river marathons, attracting about 2 000 paddlers each year. The canoe marathon was founded in 1951, and covers roughly 120 kilometres from Pietermaritzburg to Blue Lagoon, and Beyond The River captures the essence of the race and the exquisiteness of the country in a thrilling adventure story about the triumph of the human spirit.

Thorpe says this film was the most challenging shoot he has ever done due to the external factors of the shoot locations. “Shooting on water is a bigger challenge than you imagine because everything is moving,” explains Thorpe. “This is not Hollywood and we don’t have specialised equipment,” he says. They had to innovate constantly to get required shots and further to expected challenges they were filming a movie based on a river, during a drought. They filmed using a Red Epic, which cinematographer Trevor Calverly says is his preferred camera. “I like the look and feel of the Red’s images and lensing,” DOP Calverly adds. The film was shot mostly outdoors so lighting was not a major aspect of the film. “We did have to do some pretty big night shoots in informal settlements where there was no electricity, so we had to provide all the lights of the whole area,” says Calverly.

“The film set was on a river during the worst drought ever,” says Thorpe. “Rivers are controlled by dams and they don’t flow naturally anymore, they only flow when water is released from a dam.” He explains that although they will release water for the marathon to take place, “we didn’t have the clout to get them to release water for us.” It was because of this that Beyond The River was shot not only on the Dusi but also on the Tugela and the Vaal rivers.

While they faced environmental challenges day to day, they also had actors playing the parts of experienced canoers, racing an extremely challenging river. Starring Grant Swanby (Blood Diamond, Mandela-Long Walk to Freedom and Invictus) as Steve, and Lemogang Tsipa (When We Were Black, Traffic! and Jab), who makes his debut lead role as Duma, they had six weeks of training from novice paddlers. Thorpe says this meant that they would often not be able to manage a rapid and would fall into the water, which equates to a scene being completely reshot with the need to redo almost everything. They used a combination of actors and body doubles.

Thorpe says that among these challenges they also ended up unexpectedly on the Tugela, “We ended up at a resort in the middle of nowhere and half way through our first day of shooting, during a drought so animals were coming to the river to drink, so many snakes and scorpions, and then the owner comes and says we have to get everyone off the river because there is a croc right where we are shooting.”

Thorpe says they had a rig set up on a boat which started to sink, and so for close ups they used bungee rope with the Red on the bank and the boat being held by two men in the water. “We had guys holding the boat out of shot,” explains Thorpe, who says he learnt these things as they went along. “The biggest challenge was figuring out how to get close to the action on the water,” says Freimond. Adding that, “Finding the right place or floating device for the camera and crew was a serious challenge.” They used limited technology due to a low budget and Thorpe says low tech in tough conditions meant he learned more on this shoot than any before, but despite the challenges, “The results were great, and that is what will be remembered.”

Editor Nick Costaras says that for grading they used Filmlights Baselight, for editing they used Final Cut and AfterEffects. Freimond explains that in post, “The biggest challenge was creating believable races working between what we had and archive footage. Nick did a masterful job.”

The film is in English and Zulu with English subtitles and showcases the work of the Soweto Canoe and Recreation Club (SCARC) which is an ADreach social development initiative that aims to uplift previously disadvantaged communities through the power of sport. The making of Beyond The River was funded by the National Lotteries Commission, the Department of Trade and Industry, the National Film and Video Foundation and the KwaZulu Natal Film Commission. It was further sponsored by Discovery Health, Vodacom and ADreach.

Two books published by Pan Macmillan: Beyond The River, adapted from the film and part of Heartlines’ What’s Your Story book series and Confluence, Cruickshanks’ true story of his journey with Ntondini, will be released alongside the film.


“I like the look and feel of the Red’s images and lensing.”

– Cinematographer Trevor Calverly


  • Camera: RED Epic
  • Lens: Angenieux Optimo Spherical Lens
  • Camera Support System: Oconnor  Fluid Head on a Chapman Dolly


• Filmlights Baselight  for grading
• Final Cut and AfterEffects for editing.


Executive Producers: Heartlines and Quizzical Pictures
Writer/director: Craig Freimond
Writer/producer: Robbie Thorpe
Editor: Nick Costaras
Sound: Janno Muller
Casting: Moonyeen LeeOriginal
Music: Chris Letcher

The Recce: Telling a local story in a universal language

“The new 4.6K sensor didn’t have any of the issues of its predecessor. It is small and light enough to fit on our gimbal system with the right lenses. It shoots RAW at 60fps in full resolution and the latitude is comparable with cameras in a much higher price bracket.” – Jac Williams

A Man Makes a Picture production and director Ferdinand van Zyl’s debut feature film The Recce, is an ode to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives so that future generations wouldn’t have to.

After the South African Defence Force (SADF) wrongfully declares young recce Henk Viljoen (Greg Kriek) dead behind enemy lines, it’s up to him alone to use every skill and tool in his arsenal to make it back to his grieving wife (Christia Visser). With the enemy hot on his trail and a lethal gunshot wound in his gut, Henk’s chances for survival aren’t looking good as he navigates the treacherous war torn African landscape. “My uncle was a recce, my dad is a border war veteran and my grandfather fought in WWII, so you can say there is a fair share of guilt on my behalf for not doing national service, considering the lineage of soldiers in my family,” comments van Zyl. “My father always said that they fought so we don’t have to. So this film is somewhat of an ode to them: soldiers who sacrificed their body, mind and soul for us normal folks.”

Van Zyl says that when making The Recce, he wanted to make a film that would challenge local audiences, a film he would want to watch, a local story told in a universal language: “South African audiences don’t really get exposed to world cinema; there aren’t really a lot of platforms where we can enjoy art house films. We are inundated with American or main stream Hollywood movies, and I wanted to make a film I wanted to watch, I wanted to make a film that will challenge South African audiences; a film that subverts traditional narrative structure, a film that uses film grammar poetically. Furthermore I wanted to tell a South African story with universal themes. The Recce is a metaphorical film embedded with abstractions. The beauty of abstractions is that it’s open for interpretation, anyone can take from it what they want, and that renders the film universal and timeless.”

A Film and Television scholar at The University of Cape Town – graduating with a distinction in screenwriting – in addition to directing, van Zyl penned the script for The Recce, but despite his expertise and natural screenwriting talent, it proved to be a challenging process. After working on his original script for several months, van Zyl decided to start over. “I write my own scripts. I am a screenwriter first and foremost. Writing can be therapeutic, but it’s extremely taxing. After writing for months, I basically deleted everything, and started from scratch. I started to write intuitively, ignoring structure and traditional scriptwriting rules, specifically regarding plot points. I wanted the story to feel organic,” he explains, “When I started a couple of years back, I met with the then commissioner of the Special Forces, and basically wracked his brain and gave him hypothetical situations in the bush, to see how he would react in those moments. I did extensive research, and the film, in its infancy was very authentic and historically correct.” Van Zyl soon realised that it would be an enormous struggle to get the budget he needed to make the film he envisioned, “well not as my debut at least,” he quips. “I also didn’t feel creatively nourished. I didn’t want to make a historical film; I wanted to make Apocalypse Now. I wanted to make a film that uses the border war as a theatre to tell a metaphorical story that deals with a lot of themes, not just South African history.”

Principal photography commenced on 12 September 2016 in the Eastern Cape at executive producer Jac Williams’ family guest farm, Bergrivier. “We shot there for the first two weeks,” says Williams. “It provided us with a lot of different options for the Angola scenes, indigenous forests, acacia trees, rivers etc. and we built an African village set as well. This was designed and executed by our very talented production designer Pieter Bosman and his team.” The remainder of the film was shot in and around Cape Town, in the Kouebokke Veld, ClainWilliam (Hollandsebosch), Kersefontein on the West Coast and Worcester.

DOP Jacques van Tonder shot The Recce using the Black Magic Design URSA Mini 4.6K cameras with PL Mounts. The film’s organic yet layered look and feel was developed through close collaboration between van Zyl and van Tonder: “We wanted the camera movement and lighting to develop with the story and be contrasting between the different parts of the script,” explains van Tonder. Due to time and budget limitations, as well as limited accessibility to some locations, the team were largely reliant on available light for selected scenes. “We did extensive recces of our locations and thoroughly planned our days. This paid off on the day and we could make the most of the natural beauty of our surroundings,” he adds. “We achieved and surpassed what we set out to do and I think it looks unlike anything we have seen in South Africa before.”

Van Zyl, who is a big fan of “slow” cinema or long takes, says that he wanted the action inside the frame to determine the rhythm of the film – not the editing. “Pace should be determined by performance and camera movement, and not cutting. I wanted to be able to play out a scene with one take, without having to cut to a two shot or a single, and sometimes I don’t, I just stick to the establishing shot for four minutes without cutting.” This meant that the team carried out extensive blocking and camera rehearsals, but at the same time “unrehearsed and improvised scenes were just as common,” van Zyl explains. “I just placed the actors in a setting without dialogue or direction, and asked them to be themselves, or be the characters, and we got the most incredible stuff in those moments. I wanted to do more of those setups, because that’s where the magic is.”

Sourced from ORMS Pro Photo Warehouse in Cape Town, selecting the Black Magic Design URSA Mini 4.6K cameras was a bit of a gamble at first as they were largely untested, however the cameras later proved to exceed expectations says Williams. “We spoke about many camera systems in our planning stages and we knew what we needed from the cameras we would use. The URSA Minis had just become available and the purchase price was really good, but there was a lot of scepticism around them. It ticked many of the boxes on paper, but was untested in the field,” he says. “We did extensive testing on it and we were very happy with the resulting images. The new 4.6K sensor didn’t have any of the issues of its predecessor. It is small and light enough to fit on our gimbal system with the right lenses. It shoots RAW at 60fps in full resolution and the latitude is comparable with cameras in a much higher price bracket.”

Black Magic’s DaVinci Resolve Studio Software was utilised for dailies and post workflow, ensuring seamless integration. “Looking back, we really put the cameras through their paces and they never skipped a beat,” adds Williams. “The locations we were in dished up the worst from a camera maintenance point of view, but we never had any problems.”

Van Zyl says that South African cinema is at turning point, “or rather there’s a New Wave where we begin to see films that break away from ‘bubblegum’ entertainment; film’s that deal with real issues innovatively, or films that frankly just pursue the craft as an art form, because cinema is art…first and foremost. So it’s actually a very exciting time to be making movies locally,” he concludes.

The Recce is due for theatrical release at Nu Metro and Ster-Kinekor cinemas nationwide June 2017.  


• Camera: Black Magic Design URSA Mini 4.6K cameras with PL Mounts

  • Editing software: Black Magic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio Software utilised for dailies and post workflow

• Camera sourced from ORMS Pro Photo Warehouse in Cape Town.



Writer/Director: Ferdinand van Zyl
Producer: Jac Williams
DOP: Jacques Van Tonder
Line Producer: Alan Haywayrd
1st Assistant Director: Neil Uys
Editors: Jacques Le Roux and Ferdinand Van Zyl
Production Designer: Pieter Bosman
Costume Designer: Nico Nigrini
Sound: Adriaan Drotsche

Thuthuka celebrates a decade of educating youth

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

Audi campaign kicks off with epic commercial

While beauty may definitely be in the eye of the beholder, it is all too often boring in its portrayals on screen. Audi’s new campaign is particularly refreshing as it explores an almost undefined beauty. In their global campaign for the new Q2, #Untaggable, Audi illuminates how the most beautiful things in life are actually quite impossible to define. The SA version of the TVC challenges stereotypes and paints an alluring picture with African model, actress and activist, Thando Hopa, who also happens to have been born with albinism.

Directed by Sam Coleman of Giant Films, who says that when Nic Wittenberg and the team at Ogilvy explained the project to him, he knew the campaign would be a strong one. Coleman says the concept was to translate the global campaign and to make it relevant to the African market. They had already found Hopa as the perfect embodiment of the #Untaggable concept. “Thando is a rare individual because of her many dimensions,” explains Coleman. “She is a fashion model with albinism, a lawyer, an activist for the rights of people with albinism, an actress, a filmmaker who was just invited to Directors Lab at Sundance in Utah.”

The global Audi campaign concept is #Untaggable, and they are running a series of films that explore society’s need to constantly #hashtag everything. “The films are a bombardment of imagery including Marilyn Monroe and Lionel Messi energetically cut together with titles that say things like:  Do we have to hashtag everything? #blonde? (Marilyn Monroe), #fashion, etc… The point made in the end is that the Q2 is ‘untaggable’ – the reason being is that you can’t call it just an SUV or a sports car, or a coupe because it is all those things and more. So what’s implied is that you can’t put it in a box in an age where we instantly hashtag everything.”

Coleman says that what was unusual from a director’s point of view was that the casting was already done by the agency. “Usually a big part of my job,” says Coleman. “I just had to focus on showcasing the different facts of Thando’s personality in a visually arresting way. I had to connect with Thando very quickly at the wardrobe call the day before the shoot and find some common ground as she informed a lot of the approach in the way she was portrayed, which was deeply personal to her. She was very sure of her own image, what she was comfortable with and it was great to work with such a strong personality.”

The commercial was shot using interiors in the industrial docklands of the port of Cape Town which gave impressive scale and grit. It was filmed in one day on an Alexa mini. Well known for her carefully crafted lighting, Vicci Turpin was the DOP.

The Cape Town branch of Upstairs Ludus performed full post for the TVC with Xander van Der Westhuizen doing offline edit, Nic Apostoli doing grade and Charmaine Greyling doing online.

The colourist, Apostoli says they used Davinci Resolve and Autodesk Smoke. He says his biggest challenge was to make Hopa appear as ethereal as possible. “A combination of grading techniques were used to build this unique look and separate her from the background, while still keeping her in situ,” he explains. “Pushing the boundaries, we were able to achieve an industrial vogue feel. Besides the usual online clean-ups, layers of textures were added to create a sense of atmosphere throughout the piece, particularly in her eyes. Metal textures were used to enhance the background, driving home the industrial look.”

Apostoli adds “We were given carte blanche to explore, create and have fun, resulting in a beautiful piece we are all proud to be a part of.”

Van Der Westhuizen says that the edit began on set. “We had four days including shoot day to present and approve the commercial. Sam gave me complete freedom in the edit and basically just said, have fun. Fun was definitely had, after an AM session with the agency we had clients come in and not change a single frame,” van Der Westhuizen explains. “The approach from my side was to do an edit that is as unusual and as ethereal as Thando. Including a burst near the end of the entire commercial in reverse, it felt like a good way to enhance the vibe as we introduce the car.”

Coleman chose to work with a frequent music collaborator of his, Markus Wormstorm on the score, who created a pulsing tech house track featuring traditional African ululating. Established contemporary artist Bridget Baker worked on styling outfits for each scene, and the production design was by Josie Minty.

Coleman says that working on this piece was an eye opener for him. “I wasn’t aware of the level of persecution against people with albinism in certain African countries before the project,” he says. “I think a positive take out of the commercial will be that it will help normalise the perception of albinsim. I hope people will cast people with albinsm more, and not just because they look different. I was attracted to the script because it feels very different for a car ad, and actually hardly featured the car, so I was impressed with Audi for going for it too,” Coleman concludes.

The United Nations General Assembly in December 2014, adopted a resolution proclaiming 13 June every year as International Albinism Awareness Day with effect from 2015, this shows just how seriously this medical condition needed empathy. Let us hope this campaign does more than sell cars.

Key crew:

Executive Creative Director: Nicholas Wittenberg
Director: Sam Coleman
Producer: Boris Vossgatter
Executive Producers: Emma Lundy & Cindy Gabriel
Director of Photography: Vicci Turpin
Art Director: Josie Minty
Offline: Charmaine Greyling
Editor: Xander Van Der
Colourist: Nic Appostoli
Sound Design / Composer: Markus Wormstorm

SA Eco Film Festival 2017 launches Talent Campus

When a number of impactful and pertinent documentaries didn’t make it onto the South African cinema circuit, the SA Eco Film Festival was born. It began as the Cape Town Eco Film Festival in 2014, soon became the South African Eco Film Festival in 2015, launched a Directors Showcase in 2016, and now in 2017 they are introducing a Talent Campus. Besides dynamic growth the festival continues to bring to light enlightening international and local documentaries to raise the level of communal consciousness around global issues.

“We are now in our fourth year and it seems to grow quite organically each year,” explains founder and programme director of the SA Eco Film Festival, Dougie Dudgeon. “Of course our sponsors help, their consistent support over the years allows us to plan ahead. We are particularly proud that with Ballo, Sustainable.co.za, Reliance and Hemporium we have sponsors who walk the walk when it comes to green, eco-living, sustainable business and ethical trading. This is a key part of what the festival aims to do,” he says. Not only does the festival screen films that highlight some of the most important issues that face the world today; including pollution, exploitation, over population, deforestation, and climate change, but they aim to offer solutions. “Our films and our supporters all trade in solutions, often on an individual level, with scale-able, do-able things. We try to remain positive. We try to entertain and inform at the same time,” says Dudgeon.

Furthermore the festival will now be training. Dudgeon explains that the SA Eco Film Festival’s inaugural Talent Campus is held over the seven days of screenings. From 23 to 30 March, nine young potential film makers and story tellers have the chance to attend all the screenings, to interact with the audiences there, and to attend dedicated workshops and mentoring sessions.

At the workshop sessions, Talent Campus participants will develop concepts for short films that express their own experiences of environmental issues. They will then pitch these film concepts to a panel. The three pitches selected will then recruit a three person team from the remaining six participants. Each team of three will be guided, supported and mentored to produce three shorts which will be filmed and produced for inclusion in next year’s festival. “We are grateful to Reel Lives and Shack Dwellers International’s Know Your City initiative for helping us find our film makers of tomorrow. The Talent Campus is supported by Panalux and Reliance,” says Dudgeon.

When designing the festival programme, Dudgeon says they look for influential films that are influencing the international festival circuit. He says they are also open for submissions directly, or via Film Freeway. “South African films are always invited to submit free of charge and we do have a modest fee for international films,” he explains.

The selection process includes consultations with experts in the fields discussed, and sponsor suggestions. Dudgeon says they watch all the films and ultimately choose the ones that have moved them in some way; made them think, laugh or cry.

The festival has one award: the Silver Tree award. “Since its inception the SA Eco Film Festival has solicited audience votes to determine each year’s Audience Choice Award,” explains Dudgeon. “The laurels presented to the winning film are based on the Silver Tree. This plant is particularly suitable to represent our festival as it is an endangered species endemic to a small area of the Cape Peninsula. Classified as Rare it is currently threatened by urban expansion, alien plant invasion and habitat fragmentation.”

Audiences are invited to score films out of a maximum of five, and once averages for all films are calculated the winner is announced on the festivals website and social media pages. In previous years the award has been won by Bringing It Home (The Hemp movie), Cowspiracy and LandFill Harmonic.

Attending this year’s festival are two directors whose films have a South African link.

Mattia Trabucchi is an Italian independent documentary filmmaker and director of Kayabike. He was in SA working on an environmental research project at the University of Stellenbosch, when cycling took him to Kayamandi, there a programme that uses bikes to empower youth and improve their environment caught his eye. The resulting film screens at the festival where Trabucchi talks about his experiences in SA. Trabucchi says “I am on a constant search for truth. I am particularly interested in exploring environmental and social justice issues, and my experience in Kayamandi gave me just that opportunity.”

Jay Mac, director of What Is Real – The Story Of Jivamukti Yoga, is the co-owner of AIR Yoga in Cape Town, a Jivamukti yoga teacher, a vegan chef and the creative director of his agency, Great Scott.  What Is Real is his first feature length documentary, where he was both director and producer. “I gave up being a creative director to become a full-time yoga teacher, but found myself drawn to both. And then the opportunity to make this film came along. That’s the irony and that’s the charm of the yoga practice we call life.” In addition to attracting outside producers to aid in the making of the film, Mac also successfully crowdfunded part of the budget, something he plans to do again for his next film project.

Other African films at the festival include:  The Valuable Waste from Nigeria, about waste management problems but a clean and healthy environment seems a possibility through a sustainable development in West Africa. Cyclologic from Sweden and Uganda, about Kampala by bike, and the challenges and dream to have a cycling lane in the city.

“They all are standout films,” says Dudgeon. “For me this year The Age Of Consequences stands out for its purpose and intent, Can You Dig This for its uplifting message, The Chocolate Case as living proof that true ethical business is possible, Seed: The Untold Story for its hope and inspiration and Sea Of Life is a great film. I’m also delighted to have Kayabike in the line-up as it raises social issues right in our back yard, and of course What Is Real  a truly inspiring South African made film about personal change, and after all this year’s festival theme is #ChangeIsHere.”

So it is, and proof is in the remarkable national and international films being screened in SA through the dedicated team at While You Were Sleeping.


Filmmaker and commercials director Zwelethu Radebe has joined award-winning production house Egg Films. A born filmmaker Radebe spent much of his youth behind the lens recreating his favourite film scenes. After graduating from film school he won a Loerie for the first commercial he directed. At just 27, Radebe has spent the last three years directing commercials full-time for both local and international clients, shooting in nine countries across Africa and Europe. His award-winning short film The Hajji screened at numerous film festivals at home and abroad, and his latest short, The Hangman – which he also wrote and directed – recently had its world premiere at Atlas Studios in Johannesburg.


My love affair with film started in my childhood, stealing my father’s 8mm camcorder and filming my brother, re-enacting scenes from my favourite films. Later I was cast from school to play a caricature of South African cricket legend Lance Klusener in a washing powder commercial. The bug hit around then. I enrolled into film school where I finished top of my class, winning numerous awards and an opportunity to work for a renowned South African production company, where I started directing TV commercials.


I really enjoy moving audiences emotively through narratives that have honest performances and a striking visual style.


I find a lot of my inspiration through vintage and contemporary photography. I sometimes see a photograph that makes me feel a specific way, which inspires me to write an idea that I would use later in a spot or music video.  I also observe people a lot; I learn a lot from watching and get inspired by ordinary people’s lives.


I look at everyone who surrounds me as a collaborator, especially those who I work with at Egg Films. That’s what attracted me to the company.


Winning my first Loerie Award for the first commercial I ever directed, as well as finishing second in the MOFILM Cannes Lions competition in 2015.


I’m currently finishing a South African Tourism job with FCB Johannesburg, which had me travel to four different cities in South Africa.


A cast member falling into a fridge, completely disappearing out of frame during a take. Hahahaha!


Denzel Washington in Training Day: “King Kong ain’t got shit on me!” LOL.


  • Black Motion – Ya Badimo
  • Branko – Atlas Expanded
  • Ed Sheeran – Divide


The Godfather.


I would love to shoot in the favelas in Rio. I think there are a lot of untold stories outside the gangsterism and drugs, which I would love to explore in a foreign country.


To stop time. There’s never enough time on a commercials set, so I’d love to control time.


  • The Silence of the Lambs by Jonathan Demme.  The performances. Anthony Hopkins; need I say more?
  • Amores Perros by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. A multiple character narrative that explores how we’re all interconnected as people.
  • Clockers by Spike Lee. The visual style that Spike puts in all his films is very provocative; I like his boldness.


An explorer.

Getting down to win the music video grant

In 2016 the Jameson INDIE Channel invited directors, videographers, and musicians to submit their ideas for a chance to win R100 000 in funding to make it happen. The winner of this inaugural Music Video Grant was Boogieman, the song by Desmond and the Tutus.

Tutus lead singer Shane Durrant and his co-director Greg Rom from Gentlemen Films created what has been called one of the best South African music videos of 2016. The video is of the band being kidnapped and forced to perform for the underground ‘boogie monsters’ of the city. “Through the passage, down the creaking stairs and through the mysterious door in the back, you find disco de spooky. It’s demented and depraved but even the underworld’s vilest, most nefarious creatures need a place to get down and dirty, to flex their filthy moves till the morning light,” describes Durrant.

Durrant discovered the grant while browsing the Jameson INDIE Channel blog, “and I immediately decided to enter – I mean what have I got to lose?” he says. Explaining that it was a straight forward process where they sent through a one page pitch. They were then put on the shortlist where they gave a presentation and a couple of weeks later heard they had booked it. “Over the moon, but with very little actual directing experience,” says Durrant. “I decided to rope in my buddy (and favourite local director) Greg Rom, he actually directed our first music video back in 2008, his company Gentlemen Films took over production duties and Greg and I went nuts on making the craziest video we could come up with.”

Rom says, “Shane approached me to help him with the pitch and treatment because he felt like he wasn’t experienced enough to direct a music video. He was wrong, he’s a natural.”

Rom says together they decided on an idea that they could comfortably shoot in a day. “What we were going for was the idea that under Johannesburg there are a bunch of boogie men who just want to party. In order to do this, they kidnap Desmond and the Tutus and make them play for them. I felt that ‘ghouls just wanna have fun,’ sums it up quite nicely,” explains Rom. The music video was shot in 16 hours straight.

While Gentlemen Films was the production company they collaborated with Left Post Production, Ludus Post Production, Comfort & Fame, Panavision, Panalux and Shakers and Movers dance crew from Soweto. The video was shot inside and around a building on Fox Street in Johannesburg CBD.

It was filmed using an Arri Alexa to give the piece a cinematic feel. “Since we were shooting in low light conditions, we needed the latitude to be able to get details in the more crushed parts of the picture,” describes cinematographer Devin Toselli.

The video was then edited in Adobe Premiere by Evy Katz at Left. It was graded in DaVinci Resolve by Nic Apostoli at Comfort. Online was done using Autodesk Smoke by Nic Young at Ludus.

Rom says the biggest challenge they face are music video budgets. “Besides for that we had an overly optimistic schedule with tons of set ups and only one day to shoot it. So there was a lot of running and very few takes.”

The Jameson INDIE Channel states that they are passionate about the creative culture in South Africa. From film to music and beyond, they are constantly in awe of the creative capabilities of young makers. So much so that when it came down to picking one winner for their grant, they couldn’t and they decided to award two entries with R100 000 each. The second grant winner was BETR Gang’s The Heist, which was directed by Paul Yates.

Applications are now open for the 2017 Jameson Music Video Grant:


In 2017, continuing with their awe and passion for SA creatives, they are offering double last year’s grant. The grant is now for R200 000 for that winning pitch. All you need is an idea for a music video and if you are not one yourself then a filmmaker or producer to team up with. If you are not a musician then a track by a local musician or band that was recorded in the last six months with no existing music video. If you have that, then head to the website for the T&Cs and to apply with a three page written proposal, and visual mood boards. They are accepting proposals from South Africans over the age of 18 from until 31 March 2017. 

Fort fuses storytellers for Africa

Fort is rebranding, expanding, and connecting the raconteurs of Africa. After a decade establishing themselves as a creative, content and production network, The Fort – officially rebranded as Fort – claim they have finally done what Facebook did in ‘05, dropped the the from their name. While removing this definite article simplifies their image, their creative expression is expanding across the continent.

Fort recently launched a new office in Nairobi and has plans for one in Lagos later this year. Combining business with creativity and empowerment, Fort has Africa as their focus. “Africa is the now and the future,” was the message on the eve where #CreateMovement was unveiled.

#CreateMovement is a campaign urging businesses to think differently about how and where they make investments. #CreateMovement asks how much of the profits generated by Africa’s creative economy stay on the continent and how much leave for the first world in the form of repatriated profits.

Testimony to their trendy brand, they celebrated with SA’s hottest celebs and talent with a black carpet reveal at The Venue in Melrose Arch in February. Nomzamo Mbatha, the stylish master of ceremonies, introduced the glam crowd to co-founder and CEO, Shukri Toefy, who took to the stage.

“Firstly we’re celebrating that we’ve been around for ten years,” says Toefy. He continues to share the details of the brand and explains their global network. “We’re very proud to stand here tonight and introduce you to the CEO of Fort East Africa, based out of Kenya. She is Alison Ngibuni.”

Fort was founded in 2006 by Toefy and Amr Singh, at the time they were two penniless university students with mounting student loans. Today the agency employs 50 people and has worked in 17 African and Middle Eastern markets. When these entrepreneurial activists witnessed the countries cries of #FeesMustFall, Toefy says the idea of decolonising education resonated with them. “Then we realised there could be some decolonising within our creative economy as well,” says Toefy. “We tend to overvalue global,” he continues. “As storytellers we have such an important role to play in driving our own narrative.”

Along with an invitation to Fort’s celebration, all guests were given an empty workbook and instructed to leave a message in the front of it. This book is to be used in their sustainability training and skills development programme, Hold The Fort.

Together with Fort chief creative officer Amr Singh and general manager Craig February, Toefy announced the launch of Fort’s shared prosperity model. The model will see them donating ten per cent of the business to their employee share fund. Keen applause paused his speech as Toefy explains, “Within a shared prosperity model, we have to think about the community and society in which we operate. We are a part of that and tonight we are donating one per cent of our business to our Hold The Fort sustainability fund.”

As part of its shared prosperity model, one per cent of the agency has been gifted to its sustainability fund to invest into the community, with a heavy focus on skills development through its African talent lab. Toefy and Singh believe employees and communities need to benefit directly from creative businesses and this is how the agency is paying it forward.

Ngibuni took the mic to explain how Fort approaches storytelling. “Fort is about sharing experiences. Fort is about engaging and as Fort South Africa expands and goes into East and West Africa, we feel it’s a great opportunity for us Africans to connect,” says Ngibuni. “If America can say America first, we must say Africa first.”

Singh then points out the cameras around the room and in celebrating #CreateMovement, under the banner of being storytellers for a connected world, he announces that guests are standing on a film set. “Everyone has the tools to make a film and everyone is invited to create a campaign video.”

Not only did guests create the campaign video, they left a personal message of inspiration, wisdom, advice, or a life lesson in a workbook that created much conversation on the night and inspired those writing the messages. Toefy explains this incentive: “We need to inspire our young storytellers across the continent. We need to inspire them in West Africa. We need to inspire them in East Africa. We need to inspire them in South Africa and what we would like to do is bring you to those workshops and allow you to leave your knowledge, not only in writing but through interaction, because we have to pay it forward,” says Toefy. “We have to change the narrative around where we are going.”

The workbooks will be used by a young storyteller in Fort talent lab workshops, training sessions, and leadership programmes across Africa and globally. Those who contributed in leaving their personal messages will be given the opportunity to participate in and lead workshops based on their expertise and industry experience. Hold the Fort plays an economic role in communities, and positively contributes to social and environmental upliftment.

The workbooks will be used mainly with students, but not just limited to students, in Africa. The author of each message will be given the chance to attend the training or to be filmed for the training. Hosted by Fort and inspired by the messages of hundreds of industry players who likewise wish to pay it forward.

The workshops will be focused on the creative industry; Fort has previously hosted several schools for a directing workshop, a copywriting workshop, and an editing workshop. With #CreateMovement Fort is partnering with industry influencers to inspire the youth around the continent and to reach and gain as much traction as possible.

After workshops attendees are given the possibility of further training opportunities through internship programmes that Fort offers.

This is a chance for everybody, as Ngibuni says, “Join the movement, the creative movement, and let us together share in telling beautiful stories about ourselves and our brands.”

Semicentennial celebration of a medical milestone

It was 50 years ago that South Africa was put on the map by a medical achievement the world had never seen before. On 3 December 1967, South African doctor, Professor Christiaan Barnard, performed the world’s first heart transplant at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.

The history of this epic operation is being brought to life by DS Films Entertainment and Karoo Films. It will be released on 3 December 2017 to mark the semicentennial day. It will be filmed where history was made at the Groote Schuur Hospital. The nine hour long operation took place inside the Charles Saint Theatre, and the surgery has become known as the breakthrough that pushed the boundaries of medical science into a new era.

Inside this very theatre re-enactments will be carried out for the documentary, and these scenes will be used alongside archive material and modern day footage of the landmarks of Barnard’s life. The filmmakers will also be filming in Barnard’s home town of Beaufort West, and at the Christiaan Barnard Museum. Furthermore at the University of Minnesota in the US and in Rome, Italy.

Filming began on 1 February 2017 and will continue until 30 April 2017. The documentary will be released in 4K digital. The documentary is directed by Byron Davies, with cinematographer William Collinson and produced by Robert dos Santos and Bonita Koff.

“The documentary is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the world’s first human to human transplant performed right here in South Africa,” says co-producer Robert dos Santos. “The concept of the documentary is to highlight the long journey to the first heart transplant and pay homage to the persons who made it a reality. This comprises of the extraordinary Professor Christiaan Barnard, his incredible support team of various races and religions, including the famed Hamilton Naki, and the institutions which enabled him to achieve these feats.”

He further explains that the focus and narrative will be carried forward through the use of interviews of those who knew him before, during and after the operation. It will feature those who worked alongside him, friends and family, members of Groote Schuur and UCT where he applied his trade, and include historians, and leading experts in the fields of cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery from around the world.

Driven by a group of people who are passionate about Barnard, dos Santos says they would like to do justice to his legacy while paying homage to his multi-racial staff, the initial heart donor Denise Darvall, and the initial heart recipient Louis Washkansky.

Washkansky was a fifty-three year old grocer with a debilitating heart condition. He received the heart of Darvall, a young woman who was run over by a car on 2 December and had been declared brain dead.

This momentous achievement introduced to the world another significant way to prolong life. Barnard is similarly credited with developing a new design for artificial heart valves, doing heart transplants on animals, and correcting a problem of the blood supply to the foetus during pregnancy. Barnard passed away at 78 in Cyprus on 2 September 2001.

The Heart of Cape Town Museum, set up by the Groote Schuur Hospital honours those who played a leading role in the surgical feat. Theatres A and B are the original theatres and have been recreated to display an authentic representation of the ground breaking operation.

“We are all incredibly proud to be a part of this production and hope to be able to celebrate a world first which was made possible not only through the tenacity of Professor Barnard but also through the assistance of his incredible staff of various ethnicities at a time in which the South African government attempted to keep people of various races apart,” says dos Santos. Adding that “We are all well aware of the importance of this documentary in both a South African and international perspective. We feel a great sense of pride and duty to do justice to a man and story which set the eyes of the world upon South Africa.”

That one operation 50 years ago is now performed worldwide more than 5 000 times a year. At any given time, there are more than 3 000 people waiting for a heart transplant and it is estimated that up to 50 000 people are candidates for transplantation.

Therefore the filmmakers would like to change the perceptions of organ donation and bring to light the importance of it, as without an organ donor it would not be possible to have achieved the first heart transplant. “The idea of organ donation is seen by many as a taboo subject, and we hope our documentary will do much to educate people on the significance of signing up as an organ donor,” says dos Santos.

He concludes that “We are highly supportive of organ donation and aim to inspire more people to sign up as organ donors. Becoming a donor is easy, all you need to do is to register on the Organ Donor Foundation’s website: www.odf.org.za or to phone them at 0800 22 66 11.”

As much as one surgery can hold considerable significance, one organ donor can shape many lives.

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