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Cera-Jane Catton

Cera-Jane Catton
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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.

Communications department 2016/17 budget vote

Building on their achievements and addressing their challenges the communications minister Faith Muthambi presented the Budget Vote on 6 May 2016:

As I present this Budget Vote today, I will also take this opportunity to reflect on the commitments I made in the 2015/16 Budget Vote.

Last year we indicated that the new Department of Communications would become operational from 1 April 2015. It is therefore with a great sense of pride that I stand before you today to report that the department is hard at work and has successfully completed its first year of operation.

Last year when I stood before this house, we reported that Cabinet had approved the final amendments to the Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy.

I am delighted to inform this house that since then, we have made significant progress in implementing the approved policy. Amongst others, we have been able to achieve the following critical milestones:

Finalisation of the Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) (SANS 862) and Direct-to-Home (DTH) (SANS 1719) standards in April 2015 and Integrated Digital TV (IDTV) (SANS 10352) standard in September 2015.
Between May and June 2015, we undertook a series of bilateral engagements with Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho to ensure the harmonisation of the radio frequency spectrum in order to develop plans to reduce any potential broadcast signal interference. During these visits, I signed Joint Communique, Joint Statements and Memorandum of Co-operations with my neighbouring counterparts. I can report in confidence to this house that to date no interference has been reported.
In July 2015, we launched the commencement of public awareness campaigns to educate the citizens about the need to migrate and the benefits of the broadcasting digital migration programme. The launch was followed by a series of Digital Migration Izimbizo campaigns that I led across the country.
In August 2015, a conformance regime to ensure that the set-top-boxes (STBs) and related accessories are produced in South Africa was finalised. It is currently being used to test whether the STBs comply with the approved South African DTT standards.
In August 2015, a panel of 26 manufacturers was established to produce STBs and related accessories such as antennae’s and satellite dishes.
The implementation of the long-awaited Digital Migration has started in the Northern Cape! The SKA bound community, Keimos, has become the first beneficiary of the DTH and DTT Set-Top-Boxes. I would like to thank the Mayor of Keimoes, Councillor Olyn and ward Councillor Mr Afrikaner, who are present here for their invaluable support in ensuring that this project is launched successfully. These are the true ambassadors of the DTT in their communities.
We will continue to work with the Department of Science and Technology to ensure that we complete the Northern Cape SKA area on or before the June 2016 deadline.
The registration process made it possible for us to launch the distribution and installation of the government-subsidised STBs and related accessories on 17 December 2015 in Keimoes, under the theme “Zwi khou itea’ (It is happening) in South Africa.

We have also announced 1 February 2016 as the commencement of the Dual-Illumination performance period.

To make Digital Migration a success, we will work with the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services and the National Treasury to come up with a mechanism on how Sentech can be assisted in maintaining two networks system (dual illumination) costs.

We will announce the analogue signal switch-off date when more than 80 per cent of the TV households have been migrated to digital TV.

We wish to reiterate that the success of the DTT project across the globe is heavily dependent on the implementation of a focused and properly funded education and awareness campaign. It is with great concern to note that the DTT Public Awareness campaign and related activities, such as the Call Centre are not funded for the 2016/17 financial year. However, there are temporary mechanisms in place to address the funding shortfall in the interim.

Lastly, I have acted decisively on the allegations regarding the inappropriate procurement of STBs and related accessories. We have received a final forensic report on the Supply Chain Management process from the National Treasury and once we have studied the findings and recommendations thereof, we will inform the public on the necessary actions to be taken.

Together with the GCIS, the department has implemented transformation interventions to overhaul the broader communications industry. Today, 6 May 2016, the DTI will republish the Marketing, Advertising and Communication (MAC Charter) Sector Code concluding 15 years of negotiations. This paves the way for the implementation of the MAC Sector Council, which will monitor the ambitious transformation targets necessary to ensure more participation by women and youth.

To give effect to these targets, we have also entered into a memorandum of understanding with the State Owned Entity Communicators Association representing the marketing divisions of government entities. We will begin evaluating all marketing, advertising and communications companies providing services to government and its entities and will remove non-complying companies from our service provider database.

Marketing and advertising communication reaches over 50 million South Africans every day. For such a small industry, its power to influence South Africans is disproportionate to its size, hence the need to make it a truly South African industry is imperative.

The department’s total budget for the 2016/17 financial year amounts to R1 344 685 billion, of which R899 million are transfers to the entities.

The department’s operational budget amounts to R75, 2 million. Out of this amount, R59, 2 million and R15, 9 million is allocated to the compensation of employees, and goods and services respectively. A total amount of R84 000 (eighty four thousand) is allocated for payment of capital assets.

As indicated to the Portfolio Committee, this skewed allocation is a clear indication that the department is not adequately funded to fully discharge its mandate as pronounced by president Jacob Zuma in May 2014.

We will, however, continue to make the best out of the available budget as we discharge our critical mandate.

ICASA, will in the second quarter of this financial year, begin with the review of the new call termination rates. In line with the MoU signed, the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services will make further pronouncements in his Budget Vote.

With this budget ICASA will also focus on the implementation of local content regulations in this financial year.

The Film and Publications Board will over the medium term focus on informing and educating society to empower adults and protect children against harmful content; implementing compliance, and monitoring and evaluation; developing leading edge technology to perform online content regulation, and to classify content for films, games and adult publications; and conducting research on the impact of content on the public. In this regard the FPB has been allocated R86, 4 million.

The Ministry is pleased to announce to this house that the SABC has moved swiftly to meet and engage the local television content producers on 4 May 2016. I am told that this session was full to capacity.

This initiative will result in the appointment of commissioning editors in all nine provinces where shooting and packaging of the content will be done in the respective provinces. This a radical shift from how the SABC used to commission content wherein the shooting and packaging used to happen in main cities.

In addition, as announced by the president we will work with the Department of Trade and Industry which has established a Black Emerging Filmmakers Fund which aims to assist in bridging the inequality gap for filmmakers in South Africa.

This initiative by the SABC will go a long way towards preservation of culture, tradition and heritage as presented by the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in this house on Tuesday, 3 May 2016.

We are also pleased to announce that during the second quarter of this financial year the SABC will cease to flight international content repeats and this will be replaced by the South African content, where South Africans will be telling their own stories in their own languages.

Whilst we welcome the good work by the SABC team we also bemoan the continued inadequate funding of the Corporation. In this regard work is underway to develop different funding model options for the SABC. We are evaluating the available funding models including direct government funding, advertising, and the television license fee as possible sources of increased funding for the SABC.

The SABC is allocated R182, 2million to fund the operations of the Channel Africa, capital infrastructure programme, community radio station and programme production.

For the full budget vote speech visit the SA government website.

Elements of Cinema: Fight, flight, freeze… action

A fight scene can determine the impact a film has on its viewers. Screen Africa asked the key crew members about the making of this scene in For Love and Broken Bones – the story of a stoic debt collector who falls in love while on assignment. A jazz infused mise-en-scéne, an ominous antihero and vibrant wedding planner set the tone for this epic finale.

Dylan Lloyd on production design

This scene was a pivotal point in the film, where our hero and antagonist finally engage physically. Visually, this was a point where four worlds combined.

The look and feel of this fight scene was loosely based on an African film noir ideal. Motheo’s (the debt collector’s) environment is cold and inert while Refilwe’s (his assignment) is colourful and hopeful.

Here we see Motheo wearing a pink waistcoat, a reflection of him warming to Refilwe’s life. While his hat remains firmly on his head during the fight, resonating with his character.

In this scene there was money flying everywhere and we needed to have enough to do another take straight away. With experience you learn to over prepare yourself for an action scene by considering everything that could possibly go wrong.

Zeno Petersen on cinematography and lighting

This fight scene takes place right in the end of the film and basically concludes the story. It took careful planning days before we rolled the cameras, because we only had one day to complete the whole sequence. Using movement and people crossing the frame helped us cheat and hide action in the scene, which would normally take more time to complete.

We looked at the movie as a whole to chose the camera and used the Arri Alexa. This camera was used with a handheld rig for this scene. It was shot outside during the day so no light was used. I added in some fill with two pollyboards on the edges of the shots.

I shot the most important shots earlier and later and the cutaways mid day. This allowed some control over my backlight and fill. For the opening of the scene the crane allowed me to achieve the shot that looked down on the final scene and all the people running around. For the second half we used tracking shots to help us with the movement and action in the scene. That was intercut with all the hand-held shots I did between the people.

Andrew Traill on editing

The shots I had to work with were so perfectly composed for the fight scene that all I really needed to do was make it look extremely sexy. The entire scene was shot at hi-speed giving me the opportunity to do a lot of ramping of most of the shots, letting me do what I do best: edit.

The challenge was that it was a single camera shoot, there was not the perfect continuity for crossover editing luxury. That said there were quite a few well thought out cutaways in the scene allowing me to get around the fight without any continuity issues at all.

Tebogo Malope on directing

Every aspect of a film needs to serve the narrative. Can this fight scene tell the protagonist’s emotional arch?

It’s emotion before physicality and once we are happy with that then the dance begins. Working closely to choreograph the movements to assure that it read as an authentic fight scene, the challenge was to find the balance between aggression and gentleness. With the limited time we had to execute, it was a blessing in that we had no time to question our creative choices.

By the time we got to the set, the actors knew their blocking, my DP knew the camera movement and I could sit behind the monitor and enjoy the show.

Mduduzi Mabaso on acting

With every scene one needs to be mentally prepared but with fight scenes especially you’ve got to be alert, hence I meditate and centre myself to clear anything else from my current head space and allow myself to be in that scene, in that moment mentally, physically and emotionally. Besides, anything can happen so I prepare myself for just that.

I strongly believe in researching each character. Training is very important to me because I get to relieve stress and clear my mind. So I’m always doing some kind of physical exercise just to pump up my craft. A bit of skipping or weight lifting does help. I am meticulous about my craft. I love acting so I always welcome a challenge.

Philip Miller on sound

Right at the beginning of the film, we discover that Motheo plays the trumpet. As the composer I understood that the trumpet was his soul, depicting a man with a big heart trapped in a violent profession. The fight scene needed to cover the ambivalence of his character. The music had to convey both the danger and tension of the fight but at the same time his unwillingness for violence.

I chose to use the harmonica to emphasise the mood, worked with electronic drones and drums, which I mostly created myself and brought in the trumpet right at the end of the scene.

The scene was cut and slowed down which made it mesmerizing and stylized. It was at times like a dance as the actors lunged at each other. This unusual approach in the editing and direction helped me to take a risk and compose something that was poetic as if I was composing ballet music to accompany the choreography of their fight.

Buckle up for this impact

Pulling at your heart strings with ‘the first kiss’ the latest Western Cape Government’s ad gently sways you into that frame of nostalgia and longing, where you expect to remain.

What rom-com twist will reveal the marketing source behind these lovers unable to take that kiss? None. It is the Western Cape Government (WCG) slapping you on the wrist with a stern warning to never take your seat belt off. Ever. This hard hitting creation hits home and leaves its mark. An impactful advert that will linger long after it has finished airing.

Director Jason Fialkov from Egg Films was briefed by the Cape Town advertising agency Y&R. Their client: The Western Cape government. “The commercial is based on a similar concept in the UK, we were asked to adapt this for the local market. The agency wanted it to be highly emotive and have more of a build prior to the climax of the commercial,” says Fialkov. He said the original commercial had huge success in reducing road fatalities in the UK, and he was advised to stick to the same structure. “However we were able to add more emotive scenes through compelling performances.”

The impact is clear: “Everyone driving or being driven in a vehicle should ensure that they are buckled up. Although you may think your choice affects only you, this commercial shows how in fact you will cause damage to others in the vehicle by not wearing your seat-belt.”

Casting was taken care of by Kayos Casting with the simple goal of finding authentic, believable characters that the audience would fall in love with. Top of their agenda was the chemistry between the two leads, ensuring that it was natural and endearing. Fialkov wanted it to come across as a love story and he succeeded in doing so. “The important thing is that the visuals are beautiful and cinematic while keeping a sense of authenticity,” he says.

For the crash sequence slow motion shots Fialkov used the Phantom. “We chose this as it goes up to a frame rate of 500fps. These shots add a sense of drama and emphasise the points of damage caused by our lead’s failure to buckle up,” he says.

“We built a gimbal rig, which allowed us to ‘tip’ the car to a 90-degree angle both forwards and backwards, allowing for the movement of the cast to feel more real and to accommodate the sense of loss of gravity. The rest of the sequences were shot on an Arri Alexa,” Fialkov confirms.

The blood was created by a professional make-up artist using specialist substances for the wounds and blood, and aiding in the overall impression of pain left in place of the original longing created by the lighting.

The WCG buckle up commercial was shot over three days between 19 and 22 February 2016. All the interior car sequences were shot in studio against a green screen. The party was shot in a house in the Bo-Kaap and the end sequence was filmed on New Market Street in Woodstock.

Key crew members who worked on this production include Willie Nel as DOP, Gideon van Schoor as stunt co-ordinator, Kobus Verhoef on rigs, Shaun Broude as editor and Wicked Pixels on VFX.

“Like its UK counterpart,” says Fialkov. “We hope this TV commercial will significantly reduce the amount of fatalities on the road caused by people not wearing their seat-belts.” It certainly gets the message across. Time will tell if it is as successful as the first.

Africa’s first teen movie virtually ready for release

Filmmaker Tatenda Mbudzi makes a point of calling Zim High the first African teen movie ever, as a direct challenge to the way in which Africa and Africans have been portrayed and perceived in the moving image.

He reiterates that the film is not about cliché stereotypes. “Zim High is truly a first,” he says. “The first African teen movie that isn’t about AIDS, Ebola, blood diamonds, Somali pirates, dudes holding AK-47s, child soldiers, etc, etc.”

Mbudzi hopes to shift paradigms about what an African film can be. “Zim High is like Harry Potter but instead of magic, there is casual racism. It’s like The Fault In Our Stars, but the white female character would rather die of cancer than date a black guy,” said Mbudzi. Describing the film as a dark comedy about identity and finding a way to make your dreams come true. “I wanted it to be visually amusing, hence the use of animation and illustration, which also expresses the character’s struggle of being creative as an African,” adds Mbudzi.

He turned to crowdfunding to make this film and, through Indiegogo, raised 10 per cent of the goal.  “We see so few investments in empowering films about African kids using their imagination. Imagination and self-esteem are key to empowerment,” Mbudzi says.

The trailer has been released but the film is still in postproduction with the aim of a May release. Mbudzi hopes for an international theatrical release. “There is the potential,” he says. “It just depends on how the film does at festivals. The dream would be for it to be very well received and then have some sort of a theatrical run in the US or Europe. Ironically and unfortunately for a film to be taken seriously in Africa, it needs to have some clout overseas.”

Mbudzi who worked in the Hollywood studio system hopes to create an appetite in African and international audiences for high quality African stories.

The film was shot with the Sony a7s and the Atumos external recorder for 4k. “The dynamic range on the camera and high IOS was great. There are some GoPro shots, and a few Canon shots. I used the a7s because of its lightness, and easy maneuverability.”

Mbudzi sourced his crew through the Zimbabwe International Film Festival Trust where he taught a directing workshop and met some of his key crew members: First assistant director Elton Mjanana, and line producer, Nakai Matema. Algerian cinematographer and co-producer Naim Keriah. Production designer and co-producer Carine TredGold. Kuda Gopo costume designer, associate producer Eric Lodde, script supervisor Yeukai Ndirimani. “The crew was light in numbers, a core team, but very heavy hitting and talented,” Mbudzi says.

To get close to the characters Mbudzi chose documentary style. “I combine the slice of life style with animation, and more bombastic elements to show the battle to define the African experience on one’s own terms as an individual. As an African, what do you want the movie of your life to be? I don’t think anyone would say ‘I want the movie of my life to be a depressing documentary with no adventure, imagination or excitement.’”

He adds: “It’s also a chance to mock the fact that most non-Africans experience Africa through some sort of documentary type camera which reduces and abstracts what actual life is like, and says a lot more about the prejudices of those filming the documentary, than it does about the subjects.”

Mbudzi’s overarching aim is nothing less than “making implausible dreams real. There is raw power in that. I love the acting, I love the writing, and I love seeing it all come together. I enjoy that elusive nature of creativity, of channeling that power.”

While he readies the film for release, any interested person or production company can still get involved and support the making of it by contacting zimhighmovie@gmail.com or Twitter: @ta10da.

Back to the drawing board for FTA broadcasting licence applications

It was 18 years ago that e.tv received its individual commercial free-to-air (FTA) television-broadcasting licence. It took until 2014 for the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to invite applicants to join this market. The broadcasting regulator said that more commercial TV stations were needed to increase competition and to improve the quality and variety of television broadcasting services in the country. Despite this e.tv remains the sole commercial FTA broadcaster.

On 15 March 2016 ICASA officially announced its decision to reject all current applications for new licences.

Five applicants sought licences in 2014. One, Medo Investments, retracted their application late in 2015 when they were sent an invoice for a non-refundable application fee of R500 000. Medo claimed that was the first time they had heard of this fee. All four remaining applications went through after the fees were paid but were then declined for non-compliancy.

ICASA rejected the FTA licence applications of Infinity Media Networks (ANN7), Levoca 565 (Hola Media), Rubicon Investments and Change TV Network (TCN).ICASA’s reasons for rejection included apparent failure by applicants to supply a guarantee of funding, proof of expertise and broadcasting experience.

ICASA found problems with applications in terms of foreign and cross-media ownership exceeding regulatory provisions. The process sought to ensure that historically disadvantaged persons were given an opportunity to participate meaningfully in the sector, which ICASA found lacking in the applications. In addition, the corporate, financial, and juristic status of the applicants were deficient. ICASA said research that supported the licence applications was insufficient and there was no ownership by historically disadvantaged persons.

Reportedly e.tv had urged ICASA not to issue new licences, pleading that a market study to determine the viability of new broadcasters was necessary, as was a review of the regulations to protect existing players.

ICASA has yet to explain in writing its full reasons for rejecting all applications. It has also failed to advise why and when it will issue a new invitation to apply for commercial FTA TV licences. It has agreed to run a series of workshops to avoid repeating the high rate of rejected applications and urges anyone who would consider applying to strictly comply with all the requirements.

What hope does this leave for viewers and broadcasters? While MultiChoice keeps adding channels (DStv), there’s On Digital Media (ODM) and StarTimes SA’s StarSat, together with Platco Digital’s free-to-air satellite OpenView HD service. In February the SABC and M-Net launched a digital terrestrial television (DTT) product, GOtv. In addition, traditional TV viewers are lured away by expanding local VOD services like Naspers’ ShowMax, Netflix SA, MTN’s VU and Google Play TV.

Why ICASA is continuing with analogue FTA channel applications is an enigma. It was resolved back in 2006 at the International Telecommunications Union that all countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East should migrate from analogue to digital broadcast services

Threat of sanctions against Netflix refuted by Film and Publication Board

Last week South Africa’s Film and Publication Board (FPB) reportedly gave Netflix a
two-week ultimatum to comply with its regulations or face sanctions, but the FPB
have said no ultimatum was given.

Kenyan website Standard Digital reported that the FPB chief operating officer
Sipho Risiba had imposed licensing fees on Netflix and that the video-on-demand
provider had not yet paid.

Risiba allegedly made the remarks in Nairobi last week, where he signed a
memorandum of understanding with the Kenya Film Commission. The commission
had also sought to regulate Netflix in the Kenyan market.

According to Tech Central the FPB wants to regulate online content distributors, and is demanding a penalty fee of up to R795 000. However, it must first get the necessary legislative amendments passed by parliament as there is currently no definition for “online content distributor’ in the Films and Publications Act.

According to MyBroadband the FPB claimed it has not given Netflix an ultimatum of any kind, or threatened sanctions. The article stated that the FPB is in discussions with Netflix over the classification of its content, but that the dialogue has been amicable.

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