SOUTH AFRICA PRODUCTION: A director's survival guide

By Rachel Nouchi, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 17 April 2003 12:00AM

The flights are booked and the forecast is for clear blue skies. All that remains is to pull together the best possible local crew to smooth the way and plan the wrap party. Rachel Nouchi digs up some insider knowledge on shooting in SA.

DIRECTORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY

Michael Brierley

Brierley has been a vital force in the South African film industry for the past decade. He's worked mostly across commercials but has recently photographed documentaries, one on the Himba Tribe, based in Namibia. Kirsten Bowman, a producer from the Big Picture Company, says: "This guy is so easy to get on with and really goes with the flow. He doesn't stick to his own wish list and will be prepared to shoot a beautiful picture for less money."

Tim Pike

Rated as a world-class DP, Pike is known for his gentle nature and firm shooting style. He has specialised in commercials for almost 25 years. Colin Howard, the executive producer of Egg Films, says: "A fine eye for detail and a great pre-production collaborator. Not only does Pike have a great eye, his calm nature is always an asset on set."

Paul Gilpen

The only problem with Gilpin is finding space in his schedule. Paul Rothwell, the managing director of Gorgeous in the UK, says: "Not only has he got an extremely accurate eye for cutting-edge framing and perspective, but he is wonderfully intuitive with emotional content. From a storytelling point of view, he's the primary DP in the country."

ASSISTANT DIRECTORS

Peter Sherlock

With 15 years experience under his belt, Sherlock's finest moments have been his collaborations with Janusz Kaminsky, Spielberg's DP in a ten-day shoot for Sharbroil, a US BBQ manufacturer. While most of Sherlock's work is in ads, he has also worked in features films, including Cry the Beloved Country. Helmke Moller, a producer with Moonlighting Films, says: "Sherlock understands film intimately because he's an ex-director who never has to resort to shouting."

Martin Palmer

Palmer has worked with both ad companies and cinema's leading directors from Wim Wenders to Federico Brugia. Starting out as a production assistant, Palmer became a grip and then an AD 12 years ago. Di Davies, a producer from the Big Picture Company, says: "He's so respected that if he asks people to work through lunch, they won't hesitate."

Nicholas Lorentz

British-born Lorentz is based in South Africa and works seasonally as an AD. In films since 1977, he has worked on 3,000 spots, directed more than 60 and has put together a pilot for his own cookery show. Pendra Dissell, the head of production at Maximum Films, says: "He's a well-rounded individual with a great sense of humour."

ART DIRECTORS

Louise Knepscheld

Makes models as well as art directing. Knepscheld in considered one of world's finest. Recent commercials include, "trials" for Lynx, directed by Steve Reeves and BMW's "pool", directed by Daniel Barber. Oliver Nurock, the managing director of Reel Africa, says: "Although first in last year's Campaign special, she's even better this year. It's refreshing to find a person who's creative but budget aware at the same time and a great plan-maker."

Julie Bonnet

Started out as a designer and prop maker, but has been an art director for the past five years. Tiger Beer, Wella, Nissan, Toyota and Radio Metro are just some of the recent jobs Bonnet has done. Linda Eedes, the head of production at Terraplane Films, says: "She can whip up the most beautiful sets anywhere in the world and still remain unflustered."

Chris Bass

Started out in life as a freelance draughtsman and interior designer until he turned his talents to film almost a decade ago. Palmer has worked across hundreds of international ads and feature films. Lisa Wilkens, a producer at Giant Films, says: "A tour de force, we would love to work with him more often, but he's never available."

LOCATION MANAGERS

Elmarie Boschoff

She set up her location company, Discovery, in 1994 and now boasts a team of 30 location scouts and location crews. Discovery has worked on 15,000 ads and features with international directors and has logged more than 200 hours of aerial scouting. Meike Laesch, the managing director of Navigator, says: "She's tough as all hell and she's the type of person who will get you into the most difficult and inaccessible location, but at the end of the shoot have the location owner invite us back."

Jason Roerig

Only 29, Roerig has already attracted attention for his deft handling of any brief and is now signed up to Discovery. Dianne Bramhill, the executive producer of Cape Direct, says: "He's brilliant at dealing with location owners, difficult neighbours or anyone who may be inconvenienced. His planning of unit positions and moves is superb."

Jaco Espach

Started out in the South African film industry in 1986 as a paramedic and has worked across TV, features and commercials. Bev Green, the executive producer, Gatehouse Commercials, says: "He's a reliable and practical location manager who has plenty of experience and will no doubt dig out a real gem."

CASTING DIRECTORS

Kay Price

A graduate in drama, Price is one the most highly regarded casting directors in the country and is the founder of Kayos Casting alongside partner, Ross Lindsay, a casting agency that offers clients an in-house database of 15,000, listing represented and street-scouted talent. Luke Scott, a director from RSA, says: "Price is dispelling the myth that there are only pretty models available for casting. Her company offers the most incredible database that can find whatever you want."

Benedict Roumega

Based in Cape Town, Roumega has her own casting agency, BR Casting. Over the past 12 years, she's worked with features directors such as Luc Besson as well as across hundreds of ads including all the casting for Traktor's Fox Sports work. Ian Gabriel, a director at Giant Films, says: "It won't be a cattle call - less is so often more."

Cheryl Battersby

Battersby set up Cheryl Battersby Casts more than a decade ago. One of her most memorable jobs was a corporate ad for Unilever that required casting every type of nationality under the sun. Philip Key, the executive producer of Moonlighting Films, says: "Give her a brief and she will raise hell and high water to find the right talent."

TOP TECHNICIANS

Gavin Horne - key grip

Horne has worked as a key grip on numerous films and TV commercials since 1978. The founder of Progrip, a supplier of grip teams, grips equipment and transport to the film industry, Horne's feature film experience includes Casualties of War, I Dreamed of Africa, Boesman and Lena, and Anna and the King starring Jodie Foster. Gavin Armstrong, a producer at Cape Direct, says: "He's been in the industry forever and is, without doubt, the king of all grippers."

Derry Gallagher - gaffer

Gallagher's experience and skill set him apart in the South African industry, concentrating on ads and working with international and local DPs. Di Britz, a producer with Reel Africa, says: "He has the ability to to be two lighting set-ups ahead of the DP - invaluable and also world-renowned for his uncanny likeness to Mel Gibson."

Sven Vosloo - focus puller

Vosloo has worked across thousands of commercials and features. Recent international ad clients include: Kellogg, BBC, A Broader View, Kinder, Revlon, Huggies and Hasbro. Nicola Corte, a producer with The Big Picture Company, says: "Fabulous, gorgeous, great personality, a fine technician and is well liked by all."

WHERE TO STAY

Kensington Place

A guesthouse masquerading as a hotel, oozing luxury, sleek lines, friendly staff and a good, central location. Nominated one of the Top Ten Establishments in Cape Town by Conde Nast UK Traveller in 1999 and one of the best 101 Hotels in the world by Tatler in January 2000.

Hemmingway House

With only four sensational bedrooms that can be booked individually or together, Hemingway House isn't exactly a hotel. En-suite bedrooms are stationed at the four corners of the house around a courtyard, which contains a swimming pool, sitting area, bar and vine-shaded arbour. The dining room, kitchen and housekeeper are at your disposal.

Protea Hotel, Victoria Junction

This hotel offers post-modern "industrial chic" inspired by New Yorks' Paramount and Royalton hotels. Offers rooms as well as split-level loft apartments.

WHERE TO PARTY

Kilimanjaro, Melrose Arch, Johannesburg

Probably the most up-market venue in South Africa, it's situated in the hustle and bustle of Melrose Arch.

The Fez, Greenmarket Square, Cape Town

Plays shake-ass sassy sounds to sexy party people in trendy elegance. Legendary wrap parties happened here.

Chilli n Lime, Somerset Road, Cape Town

Famous for great wrap parties and hosted music events.

The Dharma Club, Cape Town

Watering hole popular with film crews.

Monsoon Lagoon, Caesar's Palace, Kempton Park, Johannesburg

This unique clubbing experience is unlike any you've had before. Spectacular visual displays and incredible sound system.

The Bassline, 7th Avenue, Melville

One of Johannesburg's most reliable live venues. Music ranging from African to Rock. Always has the best local talent.

Rhodes House

Only for the beautiful people, this chic, glamorous venue is definitely the place to be seen.

BEST EVER WRAP PARTIES

Arabian nights

A 48-hour, opulent desert wrap party in Namibia must be nominated as the wrap of all wraps and didn't actually end until the crew landed back in Cape Town. Peter Sherlock, the assistant editor on the five-day shoot for a Saudi Arabian milk brand, remembers an amazing tented camp with blazing fires and fireworks, 50 stallions, helicopter rides for light entertainment, belly dancing and exotic fabrics floating towards the starlit sky. "It was five days of hell and 48 hours of bliss," he says.

Notorious beach-house parties

A private beach residence overlooking Camps Bay was the perfect venue for a cross-dressing wrap party with a distinctly Roman theme, hosted by Maximum Films last month. While most of the 60 guests and crew members wore white togas, at least 16 ended the evening in the jacuzzi.

Alternative venues

For a quirky way to end your shoot, take the steam train from Cape Town to Darling, an old Cape Dutch town where local personality, Pite Dirk Vys greets guests with his famous impersonations of Evita Peron, before guiding them around the local market and best eating houses.

Charter an evening yacht around Clifton Beach and bring a picnic hamper with Champagne and South African nibbles for a sundowner on the Atlantic.

Or take another stream train to Speir Wine Estate for an open-air concert in the amphitheatre set in magnificent grounds.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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