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Gezzy S Sibisi

Gezzy S Sibisi
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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.

Honda refreshes with JR music video collaboration

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

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.

KEY CREW

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

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

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

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

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.

SOJU

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.”

CICA

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

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

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.”

Sew the Winter to My Skin documents the last years of John Kepe

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SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

John Kepe was an infamous thief in the Eastern Cape in the 1950s. The criminal mastermind lived, undetected, in the Boschberg caves for over a decade, collecting stolen items including over a hundred sheep, cooking utensils and clothes, redistributing the goods to the poor black and coloured community of Somerset East. Kepe’s legacy still haunts the slopes of the Boschberg Mountains.

As a teenager, writer and director Jahmil X.T. Qubeka lived in the small town of Somerset East which is where he first came to know the story of John Kepe – a Robin Hood of sorts who’s legacy would later inspire him to make the film Sew the Winter to My Skin.

“I have carried the desire to make this film for many years now. I started writing the screenplay in 2016, and it took us just over a year to raise the finance. My research was growing up in Somerset East, absorbing the history, living with the people who inhabit the space and the legend,” Qubeka shares.

Producer Layla Swart comments, “John Kepe is a little-known folk hero in the small town of Somerset East. I think the power of the film medium is that one is able to canonise figures like Kepe, whose story would never have been documented and known had it not been for Jahmil growing up in this town and being determined to tell his tale. I think it is important for us as filmmakers to explore our heritage and identify the stories of the past that contribute to who and where we are today.”

Sew the Winter to My Skin documents Kepe’s final mission before his capture, piecing together the story of the legend from multiple perspectives including that of the locals, farm labourers, white farmers, the town militia and a journalist covering Kepe’s trial.

Primary production commenced in 2017, with 90 per cent of the film shot in Somerset East and Cookhouse, where Kepe resided.

The film’s stellar cast includes, Ezra Mabengeza, Peter Kurth, Kandyse McClure Brenda Ngxoli, Bok van Blerk, Antoinette Louw, Zolisa Xaluva and Mandisa Nduna. Ezra Mabengeza plays the lead role of John Kepe with Peter Kurth as General Botha. Other critical roles in the film include Kandyse McClure as Golden Eyes, Brenda Ngxoli as Mole, and Dave Walpole as The Scar-faced Kid.

Sew the Winter to My Skin was shot over five weeks by DOP Jonathan Kovel on the Arri Alexa Mini camera, with Vintage 74 Hawk anamorphic lenses.

“I was looking for an image quality that exuded the spirit of the period the film is set in, which is 1948 to 1952. I didn’t want a pristine, contemporary look at all. So began a long quest that started with the camera team at Media Film Services, and ended up with us calling on Vantage in Germany to give us the wildly marvellous, anamorphic Vintage 74 series of prime lenses. As expensive as these lenses were to rent, they were also the best investment, the producer and I made for the film. That and the amount of time and effort we spent crafting the dialogue-less script,” comments Qubeka.

Post-production duties were handled by Refinery Post Production and Visual Effects Cape Town, while the sound was done by Barry Donnelly from Audio One.

Sew the Winter to My Skin had its international premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival in Canada and will have its local premiere at the Cape Town International Film Festival and Market where it has been selected as the opening film. “This is the film’s local premiere, and we are very excited by this. We feel the themes of the film are apt for this city and are honoured to be opening the festival. We are currently in discussion about the film’s local cinema release, but it will likely be this summer,” she said.

So far, the film has been well-received by festival-goers and film critics including Screen Anarchy, Hollywood Reporter and Cinema Scope. Furthermore, it has also been chosen to represent South Africa at the 2019 Academy Awards, with the selection committee describing Sew the Winter to My Skin as “an unmistakable, bold South African voice that tackles historical and contemporary issues, in both South Africa and the world.”

Qubeka remarks: “The selection of South Africa’s official entry for the Academy Awards is done by a jury of our peers and that makes it even more special. It’s a vote of confidence from our colleagues and fellow filmmakers. I cannot express how proud and humbling that feels. That in itself is a big win for us; anything else going forward is just gravy!”

The film is also expected to showcase at the Busan International Film Festival and the BFI London Film Festival later this month.

“This is a universal story exploring timely and relevant subject matter. We all need heroes. We believe it will resonate with individuals from all walks of life,” concludes Swart.

Sew the Winter to My Skin is produced by Yellowbone Entertainment with support from the Department of Trade and Industry, National Film and Video Foundation, the Department of Arts and Culture, and the Eastern Cape Development Corporation.

TECH CHECK

EQUIPMENT:

  • Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
  • Lenses: Vantage Hawk V-Lite Vintage ‘74 Anamorphic Lenses

KEY CREW:

Producer/Editor: Layla Swart

Writer/Director: Jahmil X.T. Qubeka

DOP: Jonathan Kovel

Sound: Barry Donnelly

Ford South Africa launches new range with cross-media marketing campaign

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

GTB Africa, a Johannesburg-based creative agency, under the WPP Group, has been handling the Ford South Africa account for more than five years. The agency was recently tasked with developing an innovative campaign for the launch of the new Ford Figo, Ford Fiesta and Ford EcoSport.

With each car launch came a separate multi-channel campaign that included TV, radio and tapping into social media platforms in a fun and creative way that fully engaged viewers.

GTB Africa’s art director, Candice McLeroth comments: “The vision for the Ford brand is to keep it relevant. It is something we keep in mind when coming up with our campaigns, which is why we try and utilise different mediums in innovative ways.”

FORD FIGO

The campaign for the launch of the new Ford Figo includes a music video titled Ka Mzolo. The video was initially released via Instagram stories and is part of a collaborative campaign to give a platform to various up and coming innovators. The video showcases these young creative entrepreneurs, who use Instagram to build their personal and business brands.

“It was important for us to showcase and give a voice to very talented up and comers. And what better way to show off their talents than creating a piece of content that was made by up and comers for up and comers. After all, just because you don’t have a name today, doesn’t mean you won’t tomorrow,” shares McLeroth.

The music video allowed viewers to interact with the featured personalities through their Instagram handles which were embedded in the section of the video that they featured in.

The talented group of individuals featured in the Ka Mzolo video included singer and songwriter Rhea Blek; founder and creative director of women’s wear brand BAM, Jacques Bam; crew leader of BMX Maniacs, Hloni Ramaila; make-up artist Orli Meiri; founder of dairy-free ice cream brand YOCOCO, Sinenhlanhla Ndlela; founder and creative director of ownURcrown, Nikiwe Dlova; creative director of PHINDA Furniture and Interior Design, Siyanda Mbele; photographer Obakeng Molepe; and the Bambanani Brass Band.

Following a successful launch on Instagram, the video was adapted for various mediums including YouTube, radio and digital billboards.

Arcade Content’s Zandi Tisani, directed the Ka Mzolo music video, she expands: “The brief was to identify a group of young and dynamic people in various fields and create a music video that would allow them and their craft to shine.”

“I wanted to create a fantastical world that was both authentic and otherworldly. The music video is a loose take on the Alice in Wonderland narrative and each step further down the ‘rabbit hole’, so to speak, involved interacting with our makers. I wanted it to feel like a dream, that is both familiar and strange, something we took even further with unusual grade and colouring,” she adds.

“I think this campaign will resonate because it features people who are not part of the line-up of usual suspects. I feel like that communicates that Ford is not just looking to leverage major influencer followings but is invested in helping creatives develop a following of their own. I think in general people love seeing the underdog win.”

FORD FIESTA

The Independent State of Nandi Twitter series – directed by Egg Films’ director Zwelethu Radebe – was produced to promote the all-new Ford Fiesta. The 4-week episodic campaign was released on Twitter every Monday and Thursday in June and July 2018.

The campaign was a social media marketing success, with its first episode gaining over 14 000 votes, 350 retweets and nearly 2000 likes.

GTB creative director, Neil Lindsay expands: “Launching the all-new Fiesta required something a little different that resonated with our very independent and vocal Fiesta audience. This resulted in us creating an engaging ‘choose your adventure’ style Twitter series – The Independent State of Nandi. The series consisted of eight Twittersodes that were released twice a week. Each episode ended on a cliff hanger, giving the audience 24 hours to vote on how the episode should end.”

In the series, Nandi (Lebo Borole) embarks on her first long-distance trip in her new Ford Fiesta. On her journey she encounters some difficulty and Twitter users get to help her out by voting for the outcome of the next Twittersode.

“This feels like the future of advertising,” said Egg Films’ executive producer, Colin Howard. “Where storytelling isn’t limited to 30-second TV commercials and the audience can be more involved more than ever before.”

FORD ECOSPORT

For the bold Ford EcoSport range, the creative team decided to cater to the urban adventurers with a television commercial titled Go Wander, Go Further – also directed by Radebe.

“The vision of the ad was to show that with the new EcoSport we can help our urban adventurers explore their cities, discovering new things along the way. Enter the Go Wander, Go Further TVC that follows three friends who got caught up wandering their city,” shares McLeroth.

To intrigue viewers, Ford decided to kick-start the launch of the Ford EcoSport with 6” and 10” videos that lived on YouTube bumper ads and pre-rolls. These were then promoted through Ford’s social media accounts. The end result was a 30’’ television commercial targeted at its EcoSport audiences.

However, following the TVC, Ford realised that there must be a more engaging way to utilise traditional platform viewers for greater engagement. Lindsay explains: “As we are an integrated agency, we believe in more than just creating a TVC. As most of us are on our phones while watching TV, we decided to capitalise on second screen users too. While the TVC played, you were fed a social post that unpacked more of the story in the TVC.”

This was done by producing a series of TV ads that tell viewers only half the story and entice them to explore the rest on their second screens.

Speaking about the Ford project, Lindsay concluded: “The launch campaigns for each of these cars have been very successful. Each campaign is completely integrated, with some mediums being up-weighted depending on the audience. Each of the channels in each campaign supported one another by delivering one campaign message from brand love, all the way down to dealerships. The one thing that remained consistent over all the campaigns is that with Ford you can Go Further.”

The Ford campaigns were conceptualised by GTB’s executive creative director Nick Liatos, creative directors Nico Botha and Neil Lindsay, copywriters Sophia Basckin and Leyash Pillay, and art directors Candice McLeroth and Martjie Louw.

Behind the scenes on the intercontinental music video Let Me Live

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: The song Let Me Live is a collaborative project between UK’s Rudimental and Anne-Marie, U.S. musical trio Major Lazer, and Nigerian rapper Mr Eazi. The supporting music video is a blend of street culture, innovative fashion and South African dance.

France-based, South African-born photographer and director, Chris Saunders is the creative talent behind the intercontinental music video. The Johannesburg-born and bred filmmaker is passionate about using film and photography as a tool to understand youth, dance and music subculture, with a large part of his focus on the Pantsula dance culture in Johannesburg.

“I think you always have barriers in a city like Johannesburg, and photography and film are great ways to be able to work while exploring and trying to understand the people and the place better. This has always been the case with my relationship with Johannesburg. I do love the city but especially the people from South Africa and their immense cultures,” he says.

Saunders recently started working with a US-based production company, Believe Media. It was executive producer Jannie Mcinnes who gave Saunders the script for the music video and helped him through the conceptual process. A brief was then given to him by the artists involved and record label Asylum Universal.

“In the original brief the band wanted to create the feeling of an international carnival or festival where the video lives seamlessly within a global landscape. This is why we shot between Ridley road in London, a very multicultural market street and downtown Johannesburg where we incorporated a mixture of dance subcultures. This was my way of tackling their request and at the same time producing something that resonated with me personally,” says Saunders.

Production commenced in June 2018, with one day dedicated to London and another day in Johannesburg. As a result of the number of artists featured in the video, and their availability between touring, the project took six months to complete.

“I wanted to achieve a vivid, lively video that crossed between London and Johannesburg fluidly telling an almost seamless story. The video shows a globalised world with people from multiple cultures living in all places. I also wanted to create a South African carnival experience mixing GQOM culture from Durban, Pantsula dance from Johannesburg, and the world music feel of the musicians from London, in one tremendous and loud visual experience,” describes Saunders.

The Let Me Live video begins in Rudimental’s homeland in Dalston, East London with eye-catching scenes at the colourful Ridley road market. For the Johannesburg-leg Saunders chose more neutral settings in downtown Johannesburg, under the M2 bridge flyover with the artists and dancers bringing all the action.

“I worked with one DOP, Alex Jamin, who I had made a music video with previously; he was an important link between maintaining the look with different crews and light between London and Johannesburg. The process was extremely collaborative, and I am by nature this type of director, I like to deliver a brief to my crew and see what they come back with naturally, trying hard to incorporate new ideas into the mix as the process develops.”

Thrilling shots of a fierce female stunt driver are shown in some scenes, while more than forty dancers including Pantsula, GQOM and vogue performers are seen in vibrant costumes showing off their skills alongside various musicians. “On the Johannesburg side, all of our dancers had personal costumes designed in collaboration between fashion designer/stylist Neo Serati and art director/artist Tamzyn Botha. I wanted to try to create a less conventional wardrobe for the dancers, taking the idea of their cultures and projecting them into an intercontinental more modern fashion,” shares Saunders.

For the London shoot, Saunders was assisted by producer Shabana Mansuri, and for the South African-leg of the shoot Ola! Films executive producer Olivia Leitch and producer Maurice Dingli were on board. About 30 per cent of the music video was produced in London, while the remaining 70 per cent was shot in South Africa.

“We shot on the Arri Alexa mini for its lightweight, high-quality aspects; this is because we shot all of the shots on the steadicam/Arri Trinity. We also shot on a combination of older lenses in London, if I’m not mistaken Alex chose the same lenses that the Godfather was shot on for that side and similar lenses in South Africa.”

For the London shoot, Mark McPadden was the steadicam operator, while Joe Oosthuizen completed the Johannesburg steadicam shots.

The video was shot mostly with controlled incidental light, but when moving into the evening scenes, artificial lighting was used.

Saunders notes proudly that he incorporated a shot from his iPhone X in one of the last scenes: “After we wrapped there was a tremendous uproar and celebration, this made the cut, and I was amazed at what you could do with a cellphone!”

Editing was done by Paul O’Reilly from Stitch, while grading was done by Arthur Paux in Paris.

Only one scene required CGI as part of a legal agreement with Barcadi. “We were initially supposed to have a bottle in one of our shots, but in the end, we replaced a billboard behind the taxi shot in Mr Eazi’s tracking scene with an artificial billboard with supplied graphics,” explains Saunders.

Apart from the music video, Saunders commissioned director Batandwa Alperstein aka TAKEZITO, to create a behind-the-scenes documentary about the process of creating the music video with the aim of encouraging cultural collaboration and respect for creative expression across the globe.

TECH CHECK

EQUIPMENT:

  • Camera: Arri Alexa Mini

“We shot on the Arri Alexa mini for its lightweight, high-quality aspects; this is because we shot all of the shots on the steadi-cam/Arri Trinity.”

KEY CREW:

Executive producers: Jannie Mcinnes and Olivia Leitch

Director: Chris Saunders

Producers: Shabana Mansuri, Maurice Dingli, Allison Swank

DOP: Alexandre Jamin

Editor: Paul O’Reilly

From graphic novel to animated series 

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: YouNeek Studios is home to eclectic superhero comics, graphic novels and animation. The US-based company has become increasingly popular since 2012 and is known for its vibrant comic strips that bring historically-inspired Nigerian stories to life.

Founder of YouNeek Studios, Roye Okupe’s first book, E.X.O – The Legend of Wale Williams, a superhero story about redemption set in a futuristic (2025) Lagos, Nigeria, is based on his experience growing up in Nigeria interwoven with superhero sci-fi concepts.

The Nigerian-born writer comments, “My culture is a huge part of why I write these stories. And I also believe it is what sets us apart as a company. Our books are culturally authentic and you can feel it on every page. One of the main reasons why, is because the majority of the people that work on the books (sometimes all the people) are born and raised on the continent. The talent is immense in Nigeria (and Africa as a whole) and one of our goals here at YouNeek Studios is to shed light on them.”

The company’s latest graphic novel, Malika: Warrior Queen, is focused on bringing strong, black female representation into comic roles and is inspired by the women in Okupe’s life including his mother, wife and sisters. Malika is also inspired by Queen Anima of Zazzau – a real warrior queen who lived in the 15th century; the novel also features elements from West African history including the Songhay Empire, Oyo Empire, Timbuktu and the Benin Empire.

Malika was published in August 2017 and won the Best Graphic Novel at the Uncanny Nerd Awards 2017. After much success, Malika is now on the road to being developed into an animated series as part of a collaborative project between YouNeek Studios and the Nigerian multimedia production house, Anthill Studios.

“As a company, we just felt like it was time to make a bold move. We’ve been lucky to have some success in the comic book industry both in Africa and the diaspora because of amazing fans who constantly show us support. Because of that, we felt we could carry that same momentum into animation. But as you know, animation is very hard and expensive to produce especially when you want to do it at a certain quality. This is where we hope a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter can help us,” shares Okupe.

The pair launched their crowdfunding campaign in late July, with the ambition to reach US$15 000 and make a 7-minute pilot. Background and insight on the Malika project, including a two-minute teaser reel created by Anthill Studios, are available on the Kickstarter page. There is also commentary videos from different artists who have worked on the project who wish to see the project reach its next level of success.

Within just a few weeks, the project received immense media coverage across African entertainment websites and earned US$20 000 within two weeks, surpassing their initial goal.

I knew we would surpass it,” enthused founder and creative director of Anthill Studios, Niyi Akinmolayan. “Malika is such a beautiful project, you either see the potential, or you don’t. There is no in-between. My team and I, and the YouNeek Studios team, are more than grateful to everyone who backed us on this project.”

However, the project’s crowdfunding journey has not stopped yet. Backers can still contribute and help the Malika project to reach further heights.

“The funds we have raised is proof that there is an audience filled with expectations of witnessing visual representations of Nigerian and African characters – an audience looking forward to their stories being told on the big screen. Raising 20 000 dollars on Kickstarter is also proof that people believe it can be achieved,” said Akinmolayan.

YouNeek Studios has written and will be directing the 7-minute 3D-animated episode, while Anthill Studios will be handling production duties.

“We will make an announcement as soon as we commence production so that we are able to put a date and timeline to it. And enable our backers to be carried along the entire process,” informed Akinmolayan.

Okupe also plans to pitch to investors and networks who can turn the project into a full-length TV series or movie.

“Please continue to support African creative people and companies. Only through this support can we truly grow this industry and push it to realise its full potential. The future for African comics, animation and gaming is very bright,” Okupe concluded.

 

Submit your film to multiple festivals at once with Festivilia

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SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: The process of submitting a film to a festival can prove to be an expensive, time-consuming and dubious task for filmmakers. Selecting the right festival for a film is in itself a tricky and lengthy task which requires sieving through hundreds of festivals and platforms.

With this in mind, Nigerian filmmakers and techpreneurs, Daniel Ugbang and Tobi Ogunwande, have developed a one-of-a-kind platform that enables filmmakers to complete just one form and have their film automatically submitted to over 500 curated film festivals.

“The sole vision of Festivilia is to be the best option for effective festival distribution for filmmakers all over the world. We want to save filmmakers the stress of blindly and manually submitting their films to festivals one by one which can be a very time-wasting and expensive activity. We are giving filmmakers the opportunity to channel their time into more creative activities rather than spend it filling numerous submission forms,” Ogunwande explains.

The idea for Festivilia was inspired by Ogunwande’s encounter with an Egyptian filmmaker, Ramy El Gabry, in 2016 while he was still running his first start-up Hubrif – an online video platform dedicated to streaming short films made by Africans all over the world.

Unfortunately, the video platform has now collapsed, but while it was still active Ogunwande stumbled upon Gabry’s short film, From Inside, and was really moved by the storyline. He reached out to the filmmaker to get the film featured on Hubrif and it became the most watched film on the platform.

He further extended a hand to help Gabry submit the film to a few film festivals. To both their surprise the film was selected by almost all the film festivals that they had submitted it to, including the 2017 Realtime International Film Festival in Lagos, Nigeria where the two finally met.

From Inside went on to win the Best African Short Film Award at the festival, and an impressed Gabry graciously told Ogunwande that what he did for him was a great service that many filmmakers could gladly pay for.

Ogunwande and his partner, Ugbang, then ran the idea of starting a film distribution platform by their fellow filmmakers and tech enthusiasts. After much research the team decided to test the concept with a Private Beta launch in early 2017.

He expands: “We, first of all, had to curate film festivals from all over the world and that was serious work. We were gathering these festivals from all major submission platforms including filmfreeway, shortfilmdepot, filmfestivallife, withoutabox and the growing number of film festivals that have their own dedicated submission portal.” “We spent months gathering these festivals and then sieving through the right ones for Festivilia. Then we began manually testing the idea with a few selected films. We had to be sure this was worth pursuing so if our hypothesis didn’t work during our Private Beta, then there was no need for building a platform for it.”

The Private Beta was a great success, which then led to the Public Beta launch of the platform in June 2018.

Currently, the platform has over 500 carefully selected film festivals in their database, the majority of them based in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

“The response has been overwhelming!” Ogunwande enthuses. “Since we launched to the public, we have had more subscribers than we can handle right now and so we have to intensify our in-house selection process.”

“Right now, we still curate these films to make sure they meet our in-house criteria while we continue to develop our algorithm. Soon, the whole process will be automated and done entirely online,” he added.

To apply, filmmakers need to visit the Festivilia website, pick their preferred plan and download the universal submission form to complete and email back.

Festivilia will then get back to them within 48 hours with a list of the curated festivals that match their film. The list is also uploaded to the cloud so that filmmakers can always monitor the progress of their submission.

“We build a festival strategy for your film, handle the submission and distribution of your film to these festivals and also source for distribution deals on behalf of our clients. We take a 10 per cent commission on distribution deals sealed,” shares Ogunwande.

Through the years Ogunwande has managed to build fruitful relationships with most of the film festivals in the Festivilia database. However, this doesn’t mean he is given preferential treatment, stressed Ogunwande. “Over time, we have been able to submit films that are of very high-quality in terms of story and production aesthetics as well as matching with the festival’s theme. It only means that our reputation has been enhanced as they trust that we only submit films credible and worthy enough to be selected,” he assures.

Festivilia has enjoyed a seven per cent growth rate since its public launch and would like to achieve a 40 per cent growth rate by the end of the year. So far 60 per cent of the subscribers are filmmakers based in the USA and Canada, the remaining 40 per cent is shared between North Africa and the Middle East.

Diprente Films expands with new animation division, Diprente Junior

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: South Africa’s award-winning animation industry continues to grow with the launch of Diprente Films’ very own animation division, Diprente Junior. 

Isaac Mogajane is the managing director of Diprente Junior, the newly established animation division of the Johannesburg-based production company, Diprente Films.

“Animation has always been a medium that’s close to my heart, so as soon as I got the opportunity, I began researching the space and seeing how Diprente could become a meaningful player in the industry. Happily, the journey seems to be going well, and I’m very proud of the young talented development team we have built in the animation division,” Mogajane says.

Diprente Films is no stranger to the South African film and television production industry having first opened its doors in 2009; the award-winning company is well-known for its comedy sketches that include The Bantu Hour, Blits Patrollie, and Late Night News with Loyiso Gola which went on to be nominated for two International Emmy awards. In 2017 the company produced its first feature film, the well-received romantic-comedy Catching Feelings, starring co-founder of Diprente Films and popular South African comedian Kagiso Lediga. 

Diprente Films is now expanding its horizons with the official launch of its animation division, which took place in August of this year. Mogajane and his team, however, have been working on a few animation projects for some time now leading up to the launch – some which have recently been gaining much international recognition.

During the 2018 Annecy International Animated Film Festival and Market (MIFA) in France, Diprente pitched their new series at the Annecy animation series competition and won.

“The entire Annecy experience was extremely exciting for the whole team that travelled there with me including our technical art director, Judd Simantov and two of our concept artists, Terence Maluleke and Simanga Sibaya. I really wasn’t expecting to win and was just excited about the opportunity to showcase our project to some of the top broadcasters and sales companies in the world, so the win was a really special surprise for us,” Mogajane expressed.

Their winning project, Junk Pilots is a comedy action series aimed at kids between the ages of six and nine. Junk Pilots is described as a series about a future world where technology has mysteriously disappeared, and the people living in it are slowly rediscovering technology by digging up gadgets and machineries that are used today. 

The series kicks off with a female character, Za, who discovers an underground city of tech enthusiasts called Junk City. She then learns about the city’s biggest sporting event, the JunkBot Fight League, whereby participants build their own robots and compete for the title of The Best Junk Pilot.

The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) has praised Diprente for its worthy efforts in joining the South African animation industry and given the company support in creating job opportunities for young black, previously disadvantaged people under Diprente’s transformation and skills development programme. 

Minister Rob Davies, dti, comments: “It’s encouraging to see black animators entering the space which is still white dominated. The Department of Trade and Industry is committed in ensuring that transformation takes place in sectors that are regarded as specialised. This success builds on that achieved by fellow South African company Triggerfish Animation Studios who, over the last two years, have won the top prize for TV production at Annecy, and are in competition for the same prize this year with their work on the BBC1 Christmas special, Highway Rat.”

Ever since the company’s win at Annecy, the Diprente team has been in talks with several broadcasters, studios and investors regarding promoting and furthering the reach of the winning series globally.

Mogajane and his team have been working on another animation series titled Anansi. The Anansi project has also created more job opportunities. At present, the company is recruiting and accepting applications from interested individuals to be part of the project and the new division.

“For Anansi, we will be partnering with a Canadian studio for production. On our side, we will be handling scripting, storyboarding, concept art, modelling and rigging, while the Canadian studio will be running all the animation and lighting and rendering on their side,” shares Mogajane.

The Diprente Junior team will be utilising animation software including Storyboard Pro, ZBrush and Maya, as well as Unreal Engine which allows for real-time rendering. “The technology has been around in the gaming industry for many years, but has only recently been introduced into the long-form space, so I’m looking forward to getting closely acquainted with the engine and unlocking all the benefits that come with it,” Mogajane says.

Anansi was first developed in 2014 and is an action adventure series about a street kid who learns that he is connected to the African trickster and spider god, Anansi. This connection gives the boy the ability to manipulate and move his shadow and it isn’t long before he is plunged head first into the rich and secret world of African folklore, myths and legends.

In 2016, Mogajane signed a deal with a sales company from Denmark called Ink Brands, which has since pre-sold the series across multiple territories and helped finance the show. Furthermore, the series has secured broadcast deals in the UK, Turkey, Italy, Canada and France.

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