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From Benoni to Footskating: Making Movies in South Africa

FootskatingThis past week was a very big week for the footskaters.

Yes, the M word is my starting point for today’s column. M as in movie. As in magic.

And there’s also something else that’s even more special with an M, but that we will leave for another time and place.

Yes, this past week we tested the new Footskating movie; the all digital guerilla style adventure that was made with a handful of crew, a fist full of dollars, and a lot of heart and soul. And the good news, we passed the test.

I have touched on this journey before. A high-tech digital detour into story telling that was inspired by the hard lessons learnt on the Straight Outta Benoni adventure. The Benoni film was pretty funny and brave but it was not everyone’s cup of tea. We gave that film a five out of ten rating.

Not bad considering it was a first time effort for just about everyone involved; but not good enough. The budget was R8 million and it was shot in 25 days. The Footskating movie, on the other hand, was shot over 40 days and had a budget of just R1 million. We made that quirky, colourful, off-the-wall movie we were trying to make last time. Finally.

We were looking for growth here and my heart, and our reviewers, tell me that we moved up to at a least a seven out of ten. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea again (there I go using that same expression) but it is massive step forwards for the local film industry.

This is a great story about entrepreneurial spirit, perseverance and humility. And it was an exploration into digital magic like never before. Everyone who sees this new movie will talk about the production value and how digital technology has matured. And everyone will be in awe of the image quality that was achieved here. But, behind this picture are people. Computers count fast, but people count more. That is what I want to discuss today. People. It is people that make the difference, not computers.

You only ever invest in people, not in technology. When the technology falls over, and it always does, who are you going to call? No, the answer is not Ghostbusters (there I go, giving away my age). Ideas don’t move mountains, people do.

The Footskating journey has been the most inspired venture I have experienced since the start of Internet Solutions. A small, excited team, centered around two keen film makers Thomas Ferreira and Brendan Jack, came together to climb this huge mountain, and they did so with grace, passion and humility. And I was reminded that labours of loves need more than just love to make them work.

All partnerships need more than just love to get them to the top of the mountain. They need a sense of purpose, they need alignment, and there need’s to be mutual respect. Yes, what I have experienced with the M people in the past while has been very good for the soul.

The new movie is silly and it is simple. And we dig it. It is not easy keeping things simple. Just think of our own lives. We all tend to over-complicate things and in the process we become unhappy. It requires harder work, and it needs more smarts to keep things simple. And this was the hardest lesson we learnt from the Benoni journey.

I have been doing a lot of soul searching lately and I was reminded recently that nothing meaningful in this world is easy. From the start of the Benoni adventure in 2003 to this point on the Footskating journey there have been a lot of growing pains. But something meaningful has been the result. Also, we gained more insight into story telling. The best stories are all simple, with rich characters. It is once again about the people – the characters in a story are what move us.

We invest in them, and we go with them on a journey. We all love a good story. About a hero who goes against the odds when the call to adventure is heard. Story telling is what binds generations, and it is the bible where all stories began. The ability to tell a simple story, with compelling characters is indeed a beautiful thing. And, any inspired story we tell has a message to it. Footskating included.

Every time a parent reads their child a bed-time story there is always a moral message. And the message of today’s story is about people. They make the difference.

So, go and check out the footskating web site it has recently been loaded with a bunch of new MTV spots which started airing around the world a few weeks ago. Then there is also a cool teaser trailer and a crazy viral trailer which you have to check out. This has been a brilliant month for the footskating men and their digital machines. You got to love this new technology! And the people that embrace this new world.

  • Ronnie Apteker is one of the founders of Internet Solutions, the country’s largest corporate Internet service provider. He is also a movie producer, an author of two books and sometimes a stand up comedian.

One Comment, Comment or Ping

  1. Nic

    Hi, Thanks for the link!! 🙂 Keep rocking.


The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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