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Gezzy S Sibisi

Gezzy S Sibisi
Gezzy S. Sibisi is a senior journalist at Screen Africa. She is experienced in print, broadcast and digital media. Her portfolio of work includes working as a lifestyle reporter as well as contributing business and education articles to The Times, Sowetan, and Daily Dispatch publications. As a freelancer, she has worked on content development for corporate newsletters, community newspapers, blogs and educational websites.

South African short film Lace screens at Cannes


The short film Lace follows Garvey, a man hopelessly in love and planning to pop the question to his girlfriend Vida. However, on the night that he is to propose, tragedy strikes and his world is turned upside down. Unable to move on, Garvey uses technology to replay his last moments with Vida over and over again.

The film stars Enhle Mbali Maphumulo as Vida and Richard Lukunku as Garvey. Lesang Tshoke and Adam Lindberg also feature in the short film.

The result of a 48 Hour Film Project (48 HFP) challenge, Lace is the debut film from Johannesburg-based production company, VIVA Pictures.

Producer Neo Ntlatleng comments: “When we formed VIVA Pictures, we were looking to produce narrative projects, and director, Kgosi [Choene] told me that he would like to enter the 48 Hour Film Project. We felt that making a film in 48 hours would be a great way to get our first film – as a company – under our belt. The success of the film is attributed to the talented cast and crew that offered their weekend and time to make Lace.”

VIVA Pictures was among sixty teams participating in the Johannesburg edition of the contest last year. The challenge was to write, shoot and edit a movie in just two days – over the weekend of 22 to 23 September 2018.

The annual competition takes place in various cities across the world. Participating teams are assigned a genre, a character, a prop and a line of dialogue, and are to use all four elements to create a film in just 48 hours.

“Just before kick-off time for the 48 Hour Film Project, each crew was given two genres to choose from. We were given sci-fi and film noir, and we decided to go with sci-fi,” shares Ntlatleng. “With Lace, we wanted to showcase the breadth and depth of African cinema. Through the growth of film styles like sci-fi and horror, African cinema is becoming more marketable and bankable from an international perspective,” he added.

Aiming to stay true to their genre and achieve maximum emotional impact, the VIVA Pictures team managed to produce a relatable sci-fi film. Their unique approach paid off when the short film won several awards at the contest including Best Writing, Best Directing, Best Special Effects and Best Actor.

The film went on to represent South Africa at the 2019 Filmapalooza International Film Festival in March this year, which sees the winners of the Best Film award from each city around the world compete on a global stage.

At Filmapalooza, Lace scooped the Best Actress award for Enhle Mbali Maphumulo’s performance as Vida, Best Writing for Kgosi Choene and the writing team, and the film came in second overall in the Best Film category.

Lace was received exceptionally well at Filmapalooza. Out of the 5000 short films that were produced globally for the 48 Hour Film Project in 2018, 130 ‘Best Film’ city winners competed in this year’s festival,” shares Ntlatleng.

Prior to the 48 HFP, director Kgosi Choene had worked with VIVA Pictures on a TV show which won them a SAFTA award. So when he was approached to be part of their team for the 2-day project, he gladly accepted the challenge. “It was an enthralling experience as all of our collective skills as filmmakers were put to the test. The most rewarding aspect was being able to produce a story from scratch in such a short space of time,” shares Choene.

The film was shot on the RED One camera by DOP, Diego Ollivier. “We used the RED One camera for a smooth, clean, futuristic aesthetic and we shot with a steady cam rig to give a handheld vibe to make the story more visceral and intimate,” Choene informs.

Lace is an intimate film that shows viewers the deep connection and playful relationship shared by Garvey and his partner. However, everything takes a surreal turn when the viewer later realises that the story is not projecting real-time events, but is instead a replay of the protagonist’s thoughts.

Choene expands: “Our greatest achievement aesthetically was managing to get the audience to feel as though all of what was happening was in real time and all through the perspective of the protagonist. So, we shot it all in one take and added glitches in post-production to give the desired effect.”

Visual effects were done by Tshwanelo Modise. Editing was handled by Kudakwashe Mpambawashe and sound design was carried out by Leroy Zokufa with the film score composed by Zethu Mashika.

“Because we were working with a science fiction story, we wanted it to seem as though the environment in which the characters are in seemed as ordinary as possible until we find out that it’s a different time in the future. We drew inspiration from Black Mirror which demonstrates the dangers technology can have on normal individuals,” shares Choene.

Lace has been celebrated for bringing a new wave of African storytelling to the fore. The film is currently travelling on the international festival circuit having recently played at the Cannes Film Festival. Lace will also be released online later this year.

“I believe the film will be accepted well, not only due to its take on the sci-fi genre, but also because it has universal themes that include love and loss. South Africa has proven time and again, that it can produce quality films that are of international standards and this was just a showcase of that,” Ntlatleng concludes.


Writers: Kgosi Choene, Richard Lukunku, Neo Ntlatleng, Kudakwashe Mpambawashe

Directors: Kgosi Choene and Linda Radebe

Producers: Sekgametsi Mokoena and Neo Ntlatleng

DOP: Diego Olivier

Editor: Kudakwashe Mpambawashe

Music composer: Zethu Mashika

Red & Yellow presents the second annual Digital Agency Showcase


What drives South Africa’s leading agencies to make successful campaigns? How do they come up with award-winning concepts? And how can one improve their digital skills for marketing success?

The second Digital Agency Showcase, presented by Red & Yellow Creative School of Business, unpacked these questions, providing attendees with key tools needed to improve their marketing skills for the digital world.

Held on 16 May 2019, the event saw the Red & Yellow Creative School of Business, in partnership with IAB SA, bring six of South Africa’s leading agencies, as well as marketing and advertising students, under one roof at their Cape Town campus in Salt River.

Heléne Lindsay, head of Customer at Red & Yellow School comments: “For 25 years, Red & Yellow has always been driven by the purpose to provide education that is highly industry-relevant and future-focused…We launched the Digital Agency Showcase in 2018 as a means to bring six of SA’s top digital agencies together, in one room, for one day – to share their learnings, insights and revelations … basically, the components that contribute to their amazing success.”

The event commenced with a speech by Paula Hulley, CEO of IAB SA, who expressed IAB’s dedication to the media and marketing industry by ensuring its continuous partnership with Red & Yellow to bring the annual showcase to life.

Hulley shared: “The IAB empowers the Media and Marketing Industry to thrive in a digital economy. We do this through our connected culture and access to experts and expertise to drive our industry forward. Today’s Digital Agency Showcase and continuous partnership with The Red & Yellow School is exactly this – an energised, accessible, industry-driven event, where leaders and future leaders gather under one roof to share learnings and smart, actionable and motivating insights to make better digital decisions.”

“The agencies today are part of the IAB family and top performers at the IAB Bookmark Awards. We look forward to hearing their insights on what it takes to thrive in the digital economy today,” Hulley added.

Agencies taking part in this year’s showcase included King James Group, VML, Ogilvy, TBWA Hunt Lascaris, Publicis Machine and Hellocomputer.  Each agency presented for 45-minutes, with a Q&A session following the presentation. Presentations included some of the agency’s recent award-winning works as well as key insights to each campaign’s success.

Culture is where our brands live

Digital creative director of TBWA Hunt Lascaris, Johann Schwella presented a session on how brands should adapt to the world we live in. In his presentation, Schwella portrayed how culture plays a huge role in the brands they work with and that conforming to what is happening in culture is what makes TBWA brands stand out.

Schwella referenced the agency’s work on the Breaking Ballet ad campaign for Joburg Ballet.

Instead of focusing on the obvious choice, Swan Lake, which has been redone numerous times on the world stage, TBWA briefed the dancers to identify current news stories and create #BiteSizedBallet dance pieces on them.

Schwella shared how brands need to play within a culture context to stay relevant and presented a clip of the ballet dancers interpreting the immensely popular boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor.

Schwella also stressed the importance of having a “reactive budget” in order to react to what is trending right now and things that attach to culture.

“Content needs to speak to a community and react to culture,” Schwella enthused.

Relevance + Talkability

Ogilvy’s Evan Milton, who is head of digital strategy at the agency, as well as data and analytics, highlighted how the agency made brands matter. The focus on relevance and talkability was emphasised throughout this presentation.

Milton advised the importance of picking the right content to go to the right channels so that it resonates with the audience in the right manner. An example he used was how KFC went viral after an ad in which the fast-food chain mocked Brazilian football star Neymar’s famous rolling by creating their own version of a footballer rolling all the way to KFC to grab a meal.

Other noteworthy spots presented by the agency included the #ShaveToRemember campaign which celebrated 100 years of Nelson Mandela, and the #NoExcuse movement by beer brand, Black Label that took a stand against women abuse.

Co-speaker and creative director at Ogilvy, Melissa Attree, also shared how agencies can get it right by using what she calls “the key channels to navigate modern marketing”. These include using email and personalisation. Agencies need to do less but better, she said, and this can be done by planning effectively.

Attree said creatives should ask themselves the questions: “What is the point of it all?” and “what does success look like for the client and for me?”

“The key objective is to achieve creativity and effectiveness all at once,” she concluded.

Attendees were also treated to exciting prizes throughout the day that included course vouchers worth R5 000, R10 000 and R20 000 respectively. IAB SA also gave two lucky audiences tickets to the IAB Summit19 valued at over R4 000.

The making of Kenyan-German co-production Country Queen


The African continent is rich in minerals. Unfortunately, large mining corporations have exploited these resources for many decades now. This often comes at a high price for those who live in these communities and has detrimental effects on the environment.

Kenyan television series Country Queen highlights these harsh realities faced by many rural villages in Africa.

In 2017, with the assistance of German-based Good Karma Fiction, Country Queen was created in a writers’ room comprising 10 Kenyan creatives with diverse experience in visual storytelling.

Co-founders of Good Karma Fiction and executive producers of Country Queen, Waltraud Ehrhardt, Peter Obrist and Ravi Karmalker, spoke to Screen Africa about bringing the production to life.

“Our first creative writing workshop was in 2017 and lasted for ten weeks. In the end, we had the character manual and a rough third draft of the pilot episode… Our second workshop started around nine months after the first had ended. We had the task to critically revise what we had done and polish the third draft to become the shooting script. This process took around two more months,” explains Ehrhardt.

Brazilian-Scottish storyteller James McSill and Brazilian television director Carla Bohler helped facilitate this storytelling process and visual interpretation of the show.

“Apart from that, we had different experts in our workshops whom we bombarded with our questions. Among others, Dr. Linda A. Oucho and human rights lawyer Edwin Adoga Ottichilo,” Ehrhardt shares.

Kenya’s Oscar-nominated filmmaker Wanjeri Gakuru later penned the series together with Oprah Oyugi, Lydia Matata, Shirleen Wangari, Ian Kithinji and Kimani Waweru, with Kamau Wa Ndung’u acting as the series producer.

Story and Casting

When Eco-Rock, a prominent mining firm descends upon the quiet village of Tsilanga with its eye on the village’s vast gold reserves, it causes uproar in the community. Despite the villager’s scorn, cold-hearted mining mogul Vivienne, played by Nini Wacera, stops at nothing to get what she wants. When Nairobi IT girl Akisa (Melissa Kiplagat) returns to Tsilanga when her father falls ill, she takes on Vivienne in a fight for the land and the truth.

An elaborate casting process took place in October last year at the Nairobi National Theatre, with over 150 well-known actors and emerging talents auditioning to be part of the first Kenyan-German TV series production. “Akisa, our lead, played by Melissa Kiplagat, was called back twice to assure us that our gut feeling was right. Melissa had only played in a web series so far. Once we had the Country Queen ensemble together, we did a two-week camera acting workshop, which added some extra intensity and preparation for the shooting,” says Karmalker.


Country Queen is produced by Good Karma Fiction in partnership with the Kenyan production company, Tililiz Pictures. The pilot episode was shot by DOP Andrew Mungai, under the direction of Vincent Mbaya, and took place from 7 to 25 January 2019.

While the pilot of the series is still in its post-production stage, the pilot trailer has captured the interest of Kenyan and global viewers.

“It had over 6,000 viewings on YouTube within just a couple of days without anything specific done by us and we received a load of feedback on social media, of which 99 per cent ranged from very positive to euphoric. Most of the people are thinking it will be a Kenyan movie and they are ready to pay for the ticket. Indeed we are creating a series with a truly cinematic look,” says Obrist.

“As executive producers and showrunners, we want to create a thrilling, dramatic and yet highly emotional series that breathes Kenya and Kenyan life and authenticity in every single moment,” adds Ehrhardt. “This became possible by the input of ten young Kenyan creatives from different backgrounds that worked on the pilot episode. Right from the beginning, we decided on original sets for the shooting to make the story even more real and tactile for the audience.”

While Country Queen was first envisioned as a telenovela, the team later thought a high-end drama TV series would be a better fit.

“High-end TV series today tend to go hand-in-hand with a cinematic look and in order to be able to comply with the technical requirements of international SVOD services you have to shoot in 4K,” says Karmalker. “We shot on two Canon EOS C200 cameras with Canon Cinema Prime Lenses, filming in Cinema RAW Light,” she adds.

For the pilot, editing was done by Kenyan editors Mercy Mkaiwawi and Aleks Kamau. However, for the title sequence and the trailer, Franki Ashiruka from the Africa Post Office handled the editing.


The development of the narrative and the pilot of Country Queen has been funded by the Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the projects have also been supported by the Deutsche Welle Akademie.

In late March, Good Karma Fiction marketed the series at the Kalasha Market in Nairobi, as well as at Series Mania in Lille, France. The organisation is still looking for more financiers for season one of Country Queen.

“We hope to have secured funding until the end of the year and can start preparing shooting immediately in 2020,” says Karmalker.

Through the universal storyline, the team behind Country Queen hopes to create awareness and affect positive change in African communities facing similar problems.

“Selling out and leaving your land to so-called great opportunities like gold mining is a short-sighted, destructive perspective for humankind and nature, and it doesn’t pay off. Instead, for example, organic farming can be a constructive and sustainable path to make a decent living. Country Queen will show viewers how to be courageous, fight for your land and your future rather than giving up and migrating to the cities,” Obrist concludes.


Director: Vincent Mbaya

DOP: Dru Mungai

Editors: Mercy Mkaiwawi, Aleks Kamau, Franki Ashiruka

Sound: Alex Chege

Inside the making of South African Netflix Original series, Shadow


Last year, American entertainment streaming service, Netflix, announced that it will be investing in original African content. The year 2018 saw the release of its first African original series, Queen Sono, executive-produced by Kagiso Lediga (Catching Feelings, Matwetwe). On 8 March 2019, a second original South African series – the action-drama Shadow – was launched on the global streaming service.

“The African continent presents opportunities both for Netflix and filmmakers and we are actively searching for fresh differentiated stories from the African continent. We are committed to giving passionate local content creators a worldwide platform to share their vision, and offering consumers around the world unique and diverse stories they can discover and enjoy anywhere, anytime and at the same time. This is just the beginning of our investment in Africa,” said Netflix in a statement.

Shot in Johannesburg, Shadow is a proudly South African production, written by Gareth Crocker, and co-directed by Crocker and Fred Wolmarans. The eight-part action-drama series follows a crime-fighting, supernatural vigilante named Shadrach ‘Shadow’ Khumalo, played by rising South African star Pallance Dladla (Isibaya, Hard to Get). In addition to Dladla, the show’s cast includes Amanda Du-Pont, Khathu Ramabulana and Tumie Ngumla. The series is the latest production from Johannesburg-based independent film and television studio Motion Story.

Shadow is inspired by the sense of helplessness we all feel when faced with injustice in our lives. While we may not be able to defend the vulnerable or take on the criminals that plague our communities, Shadow can. He’s a kind of avatar for our primal brains. Someone unafraid to take action regardless of the consequences,” says Crocker.

The series follows Shadow, a former task force specialist and detective. Having been struck by lightning as a child, Shadow is now, as a result, resistant to physical pain. Initially he uses his condition to his advantage, in order to thrive in his career. However, after a devastating personal tragedy, Shadow takes on the darker role, as he travels deep into the underworld of killers and mercenaries. In this dark world he is forced to face his past, and soon discovers that feeling no pain is the most painful thing of all.

“In so many respects, Pallance’s character is the person we all wish we could be. He doesn’t stand on ceremony, cares little of what others think and has the courage to do what is right – regardless of the ramifications. And yet, even though his character seems cold and reckless on the surface, beneath that veneer is someone who cares intensely about his country, his friends and his family,” shares Crocker.

The series was cast and shot in Johannesburg last year with at least 80 per cent of the show filmed on location. “From the roofs of buildings, basements and bars to places like the Soweto Cooling Towers, penthouses and street scenes, we took great care in trying to move our characters through the city as much as possible. Johannesburg is, in fact, one of the show’s main characters,” comments Crocker.

Writing and pre-production of the series spanned roughly six months each, while post-production took almost an entire year. “My partners Chris and Colleen Lawrance, Phillip and Fred Wolmarans and Nick Keulemans are all equally responsible for Shadow. We’re very fortunate in that by and large our studio handles all aspects of the show: from breaking the story, writing and pre-production, right through to filming, post-production and final material delivery – virtually everything is done in-house,” says Crocker.

Shadow was shot on the Sony FS7 camera with Sigma cinema lenses. Most of the series was shot using a shoulder rig and gimbal stabiliser, with select scenes shot with camera cranes and dollies and very little work based on the tripod. Drones were also used for aerial shots throughout the production.

Crocker expands: “Camera choices and lighting were made according to the pacing of the scene and its dramatic needs. For scenes that required a voyeuristic or dream-like feeling, the camera would be mounted on a three-axle gimbal stabiliser, and for the more visceral fight scenes it would be mounted on a shoulder rig and harness. Various drone shots of the city were critical to establish and ground the show in Johannesburg.”

He adds, “From cross-cuts and fades to J-cuts and L-cuts, all editing decisions were always made in service of the story, its mood and tone and the pacing of the scene in question. There were several creative montages and a number of visual effects used to help heighten the tension.”

On Key Sound Studios was responsible for the sound of the series, a job which Crocker says “went way beyond clean audio, music and Foley effects. Much of the sound is designed around emotion and character headspace. What you see on screen and what you hear are not often the same thing, but the audio elements and the visuals combine together to build an emotional experience for the audience.”

In terms of special effects, the series made use of rotoscoping and compositing as well as match-moving and green-screening. Stunt sequences consisted of live stunt-action and various clean-plate effects.

Crocker says that budget constraints did limit the production; however, he hopes that the series punches above its weight in the international arena. “We hope that audiences will be moved by Shadow and inspired by what we’ve tried to create. Not just in terms of the show itself, but from a business perspective, as well. We’ve proven that with desire, belief and hard work, it’s possible for an independent production to be picked up by a major global player like Netflix.”


Producer: Phillip Wolmarans

Writer: Gareth Crocker

Director: Gareth Crocker and Fred Wolmarans

DOP/head of special effects: Nick Keulemans

Editor/technical director: Fred Wolmarans

Inside Ogilvy’s social media performance division, Social.Lab SA


In 2013, award-winning advertising, marketing, and public relations agency, Ogilvy, envisioned the promising future of social media marketing – and as a result, bought an 80% stake in social media agency Social.Lab. Social.Lab operates in numerous major cities around the world including New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Singapore, Dubai and Amsterdam.

Since then, Social.Lab has become the fastest-growing company in Ogilvy’s international network. With Social.Lab’s focused approach to the strategic use of social media as a business tool, Ogilvy has been able to enhance its offering to further support clients in their digital transformations.

“There have been many highlights in the partnership between Ogilvy and Social.Lab over the past few years,” says managing director of Social.Lab SA, Christophe Chantraine. “Perhaps some of the most memorable are the global account wins that have been achieved with Social.Lab. Some of these include the Nespresso global social account as well as the BMW global social work. Another key milestone has been the set-up of the Real Time Marketing Centre for Philips, which is a unique internal social performance marketing centre in the Philips headquarters in Amsterdam.

“More recently, the developments of new propositions around e-commerce and influencer marketing have been very exciting. These are initiatives we soon hope to bring to South Africa,” Chantraine adds.

On 22 February 2019, Ogilvy’s Social.Lab established its very first African office in South Africa: a social media performance division specifically focused on helping African businesses make the most of the digital revolution.

The launch of Social.Lab SA was held in conjunction with a two-hour conference at the Ogilvy offices in Bryanston, titled ‘How social media is fuelling the e-commerce economy.’

“We observed globally that social platforms are delivering double the volume to e-commerce sites compared to what they did two years ago, and that they accounted for 76 per cent of direct and indirect (influenced) online sales,” says Chantraine.

Speakers at the conference expanded on how social platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, have capitalised on this substantial increase in online viewership and social selling by rolling out advertising formats that encourage online commerce conversion.

According to Chantraine, South Africa’s online spend is predicted to reach R60 billion by the end of this year, with a projected annual growth rate of 15% by 2021. “This represents only a fraction of the value of the country’s retail sector as a whole, and indicates immense potential for growth and opportunity.”

Chantraine says that the launch of Social.Lab SA has been on the cards for quite some time. Just last year, Ogilvy SA sent several of its staff members to train at the Social.Lab head offices in Brussels. These staff members now form part of the eighteen social-media experts – composed of SEO and SEA, programmatic and display experts – working under Chantraine for Social.Lab SA.

Chantraine, who previously had led the social media team at Social.Lab’s Brussels headquarters, now heads up Social.Lab SA.

As a result, he has spent ample time familiarising himself with the African market and its online potential. He shared some of his findings on Africa’s digital status:

e-Commerce is on the rise

According to Chantraine, social-media platforms are becoming leading marketing tools in South Africa – and as a result, they are increasingly being employed to build brands and drive sales.

“From Facebook or Instagram with their Collection and Dynamic ads, to Snapchat and its recent Amazon partnership, or even Pinterest’s ‘Shop the Look’ feature, social selling is slowly taking over and it’s here to stay.”

Africa versus the rest of the world

While high data prices still remain a challenge to South Africa’s online trade, millennials are finding creative ways to help solve these connectivity hurdles, says Chantraine.

‘Journeys to Connectivity’, a Facebook-commissioned study done by D3 Systems which looked into the online patterns of young people in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, identified these as some of the creative workarounds used to stay online and continue to make use of the social market:

  • Unreliable network: Over 86% of users have complained about experiencing spotty network coverage – as a result, 38% combat this problem by having multiple SIM cards;
  • Load-shedding: About 31% of users have reported unreliable electricity supply – this has motivated over 34% of mobile users to turn their phone off until it is needed;
  • High data cost: High data costs have led to more than 67% of users needing to recharge each week – to save on data, consumers have opted to turn off their mobile data connection off until it is needed.

Content + Social Media Expertise = Campaign Success

With Social.Lab being a social-first marketing organisation powered by Ogilvy’s strategic and creative muscles, the new social performance division will help Ogilvy SA combine top-drawer creative content with extensive paid-social media expertise.

“Launching Social.Lab in South Africa answers a need for agencies to consolidate advertising, activations, direct marketing, digital, PR and social media. We bring these capabilities together – fittingly per client and brief – to develop integrated, dynamic content strategies that make brands, sales and customer value grow. Our conviction is that social has a transformative power for business when you combine creative content and sophisticated distribution,” Chantraine concludes.


The making of coming-of-age musical war drama, Kanarie


On 9 June 1967, the Defence Amendment Bill – which made military service compulsory for all white males – came into effect in South Africa. During the apartheid regime, this became a kind of rite of passage for many male youths, some of whom were as young as 17 years of age.

Charl-Johan Lingenfelder undertook this journey as a young man when he was recruited by the South African Defence Force (SADF). While struggling with the gruelling military training, he found a safe space serving in the SADF’s church choir and concert group, also known as the Kanaries (‘Canaries’). His story is now being told in the award-winning film Kanarie, produced by Marche Media.

Kanarie began when co-writer, Charl-Johan Lingenfelder, told director Christiaan Olwagen his personal story one day, on their way back from the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees in Oudtshoorn. Christiaan was so intrigued by the concept of the Kanaries that it haunted him for a long time after that. Months later, after presenting a different project to channel, Christiaan retold Charl-Johan’s story and had the whole room in tears. At the end of that meeting, they told him that Kanarie will be made,” explains Jaco Nothnagel, marketing manager at Marche Media as well as 2nd AD and casting director of the film.

Olwagen shared the news with Lingenfelder, who happily agreed to come on board as co-writer and musical director of the film. Olwagen helped turn Lingenfelder’s tales into the film script.

Roelof Storm and Jaco Smit co-produced the film, with Smit additionally acting as first assistant director. The production team also included line producer Elmarie Botha, production manager Verene van der Heyden and Annemarie du Plessis, who acted as the production coordinator.

“It was a small team, with a limited budget, but we all knew from the start that we were part of something special. It was an extremely ambitious film – with big musical numbers, numerous locations and logistics to take care of. But the team was perfect for the job at hand. We couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone else,” says Nothnagel.


Schalk Bezuidenhout plays the lead character in the film, delivering a compelling performance as 18-year-old Johan Niemand (a character based on Charl-Johan Lingenfelder) from the small town of Villiersdorp.

Nothnagel says that Bezuidenhout was their first choice for the role of Johan Niemand: “We saw him do stand-up a few months before casting started, where he actually joked about being in the school choir. There were quite a few physical resemblances to Charl-Johan at that age, so we asked him to come and audition for the role, and he blew us away.

“He threw himself into the role… There were piano lessons and choreography sessions that he had to endure, but he always just wanted to give more and make sure that he was doing the story justice,” adds Nothnagel.

Additionally, the film features an array of local talent including Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Dawid Minnaar, Tinarie van Wyk-Loots, Johan and Lida Botha, Albert Maritz and Martelize Kolver.

Casting for the choir group proved to be more challenging than expected, says Nothnagel. “Initially we were to only cast the eight ‘lead’ characters. We soon realised that it would be a bit more complicated than that, for a few reasons. Firstly, we had to find actors that were experienced but would look the part. These boys were 17 or 18 when they were conscripted. Then, once we found the lead, we needed to be sure that, relative to each other, they will still look the part in terms of age. We went through about 13 rounds of auditions and call-backs until our ‘Bungalow 8’ were cast. Wolfgang (the love interest) was the last character to be cast.”

The Story

Kanarie tells the story of Johan Niemand, a young man with an emerging interest in creative performance and a love for British New Wave music. His unique interests don’t sit well with his male peers, which makes him a constant target for bullies at school.

In 1986, at 17 years of age, Johan, like many others before him, gets conscripted for military service. While serving, he auditions for the South African Defence Choir and gets accepted by the Kanaries.

Although the Kanaries are not called to the border, they undergo the same training as the rest of their military group, while also rehearsing a performance programme that they later tour the country with.

While on tour, members of the Kanaries are constantly reminded of their role in serving the country and representing the church. However, when Johan develops feelings for a fellow choir member, he begins questioning everything he knows about himself, including his sexuality, religion, and his role and purpose in a world of oppressive political structures.

“Marginalisation, identity, acceptance, oppression; Kanarie offers a different perspective set against a very problematic background in our country’s history. The film asks questions about toxic masculinity and the origin thereof in our society today. Many conscripts came back from the army changed, but never discussed it. On the flipside, the camaraderie in the army is something that you don’t find in any institution today. Finding your true self and being unapologetic about it probably stands central in the film,” says Nothnagel.

The Production

Kanarie was shot within five weeks at various locations in and around Cape Town, including Villiersdorp, where Charl-Johan Lingenfelder actually grew up. Budget constraints resulted in the team shooting their border scenes at Kaalbaskraal on the N7, instead of at the actual barracks in Valhalla, Pretoria.

DOP Chris Vermaak shot the film on the Arri Amira with Cooke lenses to enhance the 80s look and feel of the film. “It’s a lighter camera, and because it was all shot with Steadicam, it was the best choice, and also the best quality for what our budget allowed,” says Nothnagel.

Sound and Motion handled the sound design and final mix, while Madoc Post and AfterDark Post Production worked on online and grading, respectively.

The Accolades

The film won the Best LGBTQI film at the Cape Town International Film Market & Festival. Internationally, it was honoured with the Best International Film, Best Narrative Feature, and Best Director awards at the 31st Out On Film Festival in Atlanta, USA. Kanarie will continue its festival circuit run in 2019 at the QueerScreen Mardi Gras Film Festival in Sydney in February.

“All of the awards were really astounding. We are beyond proud of what the film has achieved. It proves that we are telling an important story and that the film might have a long life after local release,” comments Nothnagel.

Kanarie had its local release on 19 October at Ster-Kinekor cinemas across South Africa. An agreement to sell the film in various territories, excluding Africa, has been signed with Breaking Glass Pictures, who will be officially distributing Kanarie in North America from June this year.

“We are very excited about the possibility of the film being shown in these territories, especially the USA,” says Nothnagel.

“I think the army-element resonates with the Americans, but as I said, the fact that the story has so much heart, and that it tells such a personal, yet universal story, adds to the success of the film and how it has performed overseas,” he concludes.


Director: Christiaan Olwagen

Producers: Roelof Storm and Jaco Smit

Writer: Charl-Johan Lingenfelder

DOP: Chris Vermaak

Editor: Eva Du Preez

Sound: Charl-Johan Lingenfelder

Honda refreshes with JR music video collaboration


Honda, a Japanese public multinational conglomerate corporation primarily known as a manufacturer of cars, recently revealed that – according to current statistics – its brand is not as appealing to the public as it aspires to be. In a bold move, the company decided to take a homourous approach to these grim findings with a new campaign titled, Were Not Fresh.

Late last year, Honda launched the Honda Amaze in a creative, collaborative project with one of South Africa’s most popular hip-hop artists, JR. The collaboration includes a song and supporting music video that aims to showcase how Honda has “refreshed” its brand’s image.

“What made this campaign so remarkable is that Honda, via their agency DDB, took a massive leap of faith in poking fun at themselves and thereby winning the trust of savvy contemporary consumers,” says Arcade Content producer, Will Nicholson. “They didn’t pretend to be something they’re not – instead they embraced the insight that they’re ‘not fresh’ and used this as a great angle for humour and honesty, which studies show younger audiences, in particular, really appreciate.”

Business-savvy musician JR produced the campaign song and stars in the music video, which gives viewers a peek at how business deals are done in the music industry.

The tongue-in-cheek video begins in the boardroom, where an over-zealous agency creative is trying his best to convince the Honda team that this music video will improve their poor “Freshness Barometer” rating. The clients are not convinced – that is, until the high-profile rapper enters the room and takes charge of the presentation. JR impresses the Honda team, clinching a five-year contract and the keys to a new Honda Amaze.

The video continues with scenes from JR’s “daily life” as a musician and Honda ambassador. This includes shooting a music video while cruising in the new Honda Amaze, as well as a photo shoot to showcase his new ride.

“The concept was to create a music video that pokes fun at how often celebrities are used in contrived and insincere ways to try sell products,” Nicholson explains.

While the video employs popular stereotypes synonymous with hip-hop culture such as flashy jewellery, press attention and constantly being accompanied by an entourage, it also rejects unrealistic and excessive flourishes. For example, in one scene, JR refuses to wear an unnecessarily oversized jacket – making a profound statement on how he, like the Honda brand, is also trying to remain honest and real.

The music video was conceptualised by DDB creative directors Nicola Wielopolski and Conan Green produced by Arcade Content’s Julia Schnurr and directed by Lebogang Rasethaba.

“As consumers become more and more discerning, we as storytellers and marketers need to catch up with their demands, be more honest, clever and creative with how we tell stories,” says Rasethaba.

Sticking to the hip-hop aesthetic, the Were Not Fresh music video was shot by Deon Van Zyl on the Red Epic camera. Post-production duties were handled by the Postmodern Company.

Impressively, most of the action –including converting a Honda dealership into a boardroom for the opening scene – was captured in a just one day.

The video was released on 10 October 2018 and has received positive feedback on social media, earning the hashtag #WeStillFresh.

Art director Masonwabe Ntloko was impressed by the immense positive impact the music video has had on the campaign and the brand: “I love how it says everything the consumer needs to know, but in a fun way and in a language we all understand – music!”

“Young audiences in particular smell BS from a mile away, and don’t like to be ‘sold’. So this video is clever in that, from the very opening shot, the brand doesn’t claim to be cool – in fact, it brazenly admits it’s ‘not fresh’. Audiences appreciate this level of honesty, as if they’re invited in on a joke, instead of being presented a fake advertising façade,” concludes Nicholson.


Director: Lebogang Rasethaba

Producer: Julia Schnurr

DOP: Deon Van Zyl

Editor: William Kalmer

Sound: Sean Jefferis

Showcasing SA’s legacy-makers and influencing the next generation of legacy-thinkers


Liesl Loubser, founder and former CEO of marketing agency HDI Youth Marketeers, turned 60 this year. To commemorate this milestone, she decided against a big celebration and chose to reflect on the concept of one’s legacy through the project, The Legacy Stories, 60 Seconds of Impact.

“In celebration of my 60th birthday, I did not want to host yet another party. I decided instead to create a platform on which to champion the stories of 60 people that I mentored or have been inspired by during my years in business; people I believe are legacy-makers in their own right,” explains Loubser.

According to Loubser, these legacy-makers are people who have inspired her through direct relationships during her years in business, as well as those who have had an impact on the brand HDI Youth Marketeers and who have lived values that inspire others.

“Legacy-makers are people who use their success to improve the lives of others, who use their influence to open doors for others and who use their talents to make a difference in the world,” she says.

After retiring from the agency, Loubser and her former colleague at HDI Youth Marketeers, Nika Smit, launched a social enterprise called The Change Collective which has helped launch The Legacy Project.

Smit comments: “Liesl and I came together with a mutual purpose: we wanted to create a profit with purpose enterprise and use our ideas to make a difference. And so, in late 2017, The Change Collective was born. The Change Collective is a community of brave minds, tackling the world’s biggest social problems in the most innovative ways.”

The pair has since developed a large bank of concepts that will be taken to market when the business officially launches in 2019. However, they decided to fast-track The Legacy Stories video series in 2018 as it coincided with Loubser’s 60th birthday.

The Legacy Stories, 60 Seconds of Impact

The list of featured legacy-makers has been separated into five categories, namely Entrepreneurship, Business Innovation, Education and Youth Development, Social Cause and Legends in the Making.

A total of sixty legacy-makers have been selected for the Legacy Stories, 60 Seconds of Impact inaugural experience – a video series that features entertainers and artists including Danny K, Bianca Le Grange and Andre Prinsloo; entrepreneurs and business people such as Sylvester Chauke, Suzanne Akerman and Cornelius Koopman; innovators like Anthony Bila, Kim August and Marie-Claire Mclachlan; social and educational warriors such as Thobile Chittenden, Leoni Coetzee and Lipalesa Kolane; as well as legends in the making that include Carmia Annandale, Felix M and Zanda Mchunu.

Through the project, these inspiring individuals share insights from their personal journeys with the aim to motivate the next generation of young South Africans. “It’s key to try and shift the paradigm of many young South Africans and emerging entrepreneurs who are unmotivated or crippled by anxiety, fear and a lack of guidance,” Loubser says. “It’s our belief that having a community of people around to mentor, guide and believe in you makes the world of a difference. Every person will leave a legacy, good or bad; our narrative is to inspire young South Africans to make it a positive one.”

Smit has been involved in every aspect of the project, from strategy to ideation and project management. She comments: “In the social cause space, where resources like time, budget and people are often limited, innovation goes a really long way in finding smart solutions and stretching resources.”

Rhode du Plessis developed the look and feel of the project, with Lara Petersen taking care of the copy and social media handled by blogger Kenny Jules Morifi-Winslow. Kim August was the appointed influencer and public relations liaison, while Chantel Gregersen carried out the project coordination.

Sunshine Studios came onboard as a partner, with inserts shot at their Johannesburg and Cape Town studios. Production was handled by Indie Village, with Anthony Bila directing and Pierre Leeflang on edit.

“We had a total of 36 hours of footage that had to be edited down to one hour in total (or 60 one-minute stories). We also edited an additional 16 trailers and content pieces for our social media platforms, giving us a total number of 154 hours of editing.”

An online launch took place on 20 September and saw the project reach over 2 million people on Facebook alone. “The success of the launch in September has inspired the announcement that 20 September will now be National Legacy-Makers Day and the programme will continue for years to come. The team, along with key collaborators, are currently busy with phase two planning,” concludes Loubser.

Seun Babalola: A catalyst for hope and change in the presentation of Africa to the world


Founder and executive producer of Do Global Productions, Oluwaseun ‘Seun’ Babalola, is the filmmaker behind the youth documentary web series SOJU Africa. She is also a consultant for Collective Industry Conventions Africa (CICA), which will soon be launching the first UNICON Africa event – a creative convention that Babalola will be co-hosting in Nigeria.

Babalola was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, but has roots in Sierra Leone and Nigeria, and has always been surrounded by her family from both African countries. This, she says, has inspired her desire to showcase a fuller perception of Africa to the world. Her web documentary series, SOJU Africa, has just completed its first festival run, which included screenings in Lagos, Nigeria, and Accra, Ghana.


The series has screened in over eleven countries and was the winner of the 2017 Black World Cinema Afrofuturism Film Competition in Chicago.

“The broader concept of SOJU is that it’s a portrait of youth culture in today’s Africa, through the lens of young Africans in African communities. The goal with each episode or interview is to start a conversation. What I believe is important right now is for Africans to learn more about each other. Take a step back, look at where we are, how we got there, what’s changing and how we can adapt in order to progress,” shares Babalola.

Through the series, Babalola has managed to travel across Africa and meet with various young people to discuss issues of identity and entrepreneurship, while also tackling social and community matters affecting the youth of today.

“I try to discuss everything that’s swept under the rug. Let’s talk about sex positivity, misogyny, homosexuality, depression, etc. Let’s also talk about innovation, growth, cool scenes and exciting people, basically, everything that makes us who we are. I like to show people who are finding joy in defining their identity for themselves, and bettering their surroundings through that identity,” she says.

The making of SOJU has given Babalola exclusive access to African youths and their stories, their insecurities, dreams and perceptions. “There have been times where I tell other Africans about SOJU, and I will get asked why I left America to come to Africa. Why wouldn’t I? Obviously, when I arrive, my privileges are being seen, but it’s disappointing that as Africans, we have so much to offer and often lack the confidence to stand behind it. We have to change that!” urges Babalola.

Babalola says that SOJU has not only helped shift the mindset of African youth, but has also empowered her to be part of the transformation of building towards the development of a thriving and progressive continent.

“The best responses to the series that I have heard are people who tell me that they’ve been sitting on an idea and watching the series has made them want to create something of their own. I’m one person with a subjective vision; someone else is going to tell their story or reach another community in an entirely different way. We need that variety because that’s what’s going to normalise our diversity, that’s what’s going to provide context and nuance to our existence, and in time, it’s what’s going to create change.”


As a consultant for Collective Industry Conventions Africa (CICA), Babalola is currently preparing to co-host the UNICON exhibition in Nigeria on 17 November. CICA consists of 14 comic and animation houses in Nigeria that have existed for the last decade or more. “They have a lot of great content, and so it’s more of a collaboration. Two colleagues and I have been working as consultants and are doing our part to bring U.S. partners on board to help grow the mission.”

Through her involvement with CICA, Babalola and her team aspire to provide a structure for creatives in Nigeria to help them copyright their work, as well as to distribute and make money from it.

“We have panels and workshops that will discuss building your business, copyrighting and legal trends, as well as skill-building and distribution. There’s also a lot of opportunities to learn and network. When you attend you don’t automatically become a part of CICA, but you will be able to speak to and network with the founders and group members,” shares Babalola.

UNICON attendees will be exposed to the world of Nigerian comics, animation and video games, as well as emerging technologies in the industry. Convention activities will range from gaming competitions and exhibitions, to screenings and panel discussions.

MultiChoice Talent Factory Academy heads to Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia


Earlier this year, MultiChoice Africa launched a call to all aspiring African film directors, DOPs, sound professionals, and scriptwriters. Those selected would get the opportunity to hone their craft in a year-long, funded programme supported by the MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF).

“The film and television industry has not developed at the same rate as other industries on the continent, and not for a lack of talent, passion or imagination. It is true that we are abundantly blessed in these areas, however the space given for this expression has at best been limited and at worst been relegated to the fringes of the mainstream economy, leaving in its wake unfulfilled dreams, unexplored talent and unwritten stories,” shares MultiChoice Talent Factory Academy director, Cheryl Uys-Allie.

In an effort to change this and to unlock the true potential of Africa’s creative industries, MultiChoice Africa has launched a pan-African initiative that will provide important training and on-the-job placements for young African creatives.

The initiative was launched on 30 May 2018 with a call for applications for the MTF Academies based in Kenya for East Africa, Nigeria for West Africa and Zambia for Southern African countries.

MultiChoice went on to launch the three regional academies in these countries from 8 to 10 October this year.

MTF Academy director for West Africa, Femi Odugbemi, comments: “We need interventions like the MTF so that emerging filmmakers are better equipped in the creative processes that have scholarship and technology at their foundation. We must consciously build capacity so that our next-generation filmmakers and producers can also create wealth and create employment by being entrepreneurs as well.”

During the launch of the MTF Academy in Kenya – held at the MultiChoice Kenya headquarters in Nairobi – Information and Communication cabinet secretary, Joseph Mucheru, praised the initiative, saying: “I am thankful to MultiChoice for the immense investment they are putting into making sure that we have the right skills being developed and these will be useful for television, film and other industries.

“This will go a long way in ensuring that jobs are being created. I hope the class of 2018 will be an inspiration to future generations who aspire to be in this industry,” added Mucheru.

The final applicants were chosen through a shortlisting process which resulted in 60 students selected to participate in the 12-month training programme.

The MultiChoice Talent Factory Academy is aimed at young people who do not have tertiary-level education. Courses at the academy are taught by local industry experts in partnership with recognised institutions to ensure the credibility and professionalism of the qualification.

The year-long programme will culminate in a graduation event. Pan-Atlantic University in Nigeria, Jomo Kenyatta University in Kenya and the Zambia Institute of Mass Communication (ZAMCOM) are the three learning institutions that have partnered with the initiative.

Classes began in October with two weeks of orientation and formal training is now underway. During the 12-month training programme, students will:

study cinematography theory and the practice of film;

undertake practical application of learnt practices in cinematography;

embark on internships with production houses that have productions running on the M-Net and DStv platforms;

be given the opportunity to pitch a production idea to leaders within the industry;

produce a high quality long-format television production.

“In addition to the training, the MultiChoice Talent Factory students will produce two one-hour films for broadcast on our local M-Net channels. By the time they leave our academies, our students can see their names rolling across the closing credits on screen! This is a truly life-changing opportunity,” explains Uys-Allie.

Apart from the training initiative, the MultiChoice Talent Factory will host masterclasses aimed at industry professionals. Furthermore, the MultiChoice Talent Factory Portal will go live in mid-February 2019. The portal is an online platform that will act as a one-stop shop for work, people and content regarding the African film and television industry. The portal will also include a networking section for people within the industry to sign up and market themselves and their works to an African and global audience.

Maharage Chande, the Northern Region director at MultiChoice Africa, concludes: “The key to the longevity of our culture, industry and storytelling traditions, lies in the opportunities we create for established creative professionals to exercise their craft while simultaneously mentoring the next generation. The MultiChoice Talent Factory is a critical link to realising this dream. It is through this lens that we celebrate our investment in the development of future creative leaders, the local economy and reverence for the art of storytelling in the African tradition – truly giving agency to the MultiChoice vision of enriching lives.”

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