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The Dark Tower unveils the versatility of South African film locations

The Dark Tower unveils the versatility of South African film locations

With the film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower soon to be released in local cinemas, audiences from around the world will get another opportunity to see some of South Africa’s unique and captivating film locations. The Dark Tower is a science-fiction film that depicts gunslinger Idris Elba going head-to-head with Matthew McConaughey, the infamous Man in Black. The film presents two contrasting environments, present-day New York, and a barren wasteland that forms part of another dimension, called the Mid-World. The South African leg of production was based in Cape Town, with the filmmakers making use of its surrounding areas to create the Mid-World. The production made use of the arid, semi-desert areas of the Tankwa Karoo National Park, the mesmerising rock formations of the Cederberg mountain range, and the beautiful Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga. Other locations included Athlone Stadium and Rawsonville, a small farming and wine growing community 120km outside of Cape Town, in which the set for the Manni Village was built. Production Designer, Christopher Glass, described some of South Africa’s desert locations as “almost like being on Mars. The horizon just kept going; I’ve never seen anything like that before. I think that there’s a romance and a certain sense of adventure that goes into filming in Africa.” The film is not the first science-fiction or action film to utilise our shores, as previous examples include The Giver, Dredd, Safe House, Eye in the Sky, Chronicle, District 9 and 10,000 BC. Recent productions such as Mad Max: Fury Road, as well as the reboots of The Mummy and Tomb Raider, have made use of...
Amazon Studios Moves into Self-Distribution

Amazon Studios Moves into Self-Distribution

In recent years the world of theatrical distribution has been challenged by the colossal presence of online platforms such as Amazon Studios and Netflix. But after a number of successful acquisitions, including Amazon’s Academy Award-winning Manchester by the Sea, there has been a much-anticipated move to in-house production from Amazon Studios and Netflix. Woody Allen, who has already partnered with Amazon Studios on his previous two films for distribution, has now partnered solely with the streaming giant for his upcoming film, Wonder Wheel, starring Justin Timberlake and Kate Winslet. Previously, Amazon Studios partnered with recognised distributors Lionsgate, Magnolia Pictures and Roadside Attractions, but Allen’s film signifies the intent of Amazon Studios to become an entirely self-sufficient production company. Amazon Studios has been particularly welcoming to the maverick director, who demands total creative freedom on his projects, stating, “when I make a film, I like the people backing the film, sometimes the studios, to put the money in a brown paper bag and then go away. And then six months later I give them the film. That’s the way I’ve always been able to work, having complete control of every aspect of the film.” Allen’s sentiments echo that of director Bong-Joon Ho, who lauded the merits of releasing his latest film, Okja, on Netflix at the end of June. “Netflix guaranteed my complete freedom in terms of putting together my team and the final cut privilege, which only godlike filmmakers such as Spielberg get,” he said. The creative license, along with the reduced pressure of not having to worry about opening weekend box office receipts, has resulted in both streaming...
Neil Blomkamp Ventures into the Online Sphere

Neil Blomkamp Ventures into the Online Sphere

Neill Blomkamp is once again blazing a new trail in the film industry. It has been nearly eight years since Blomkamp revitalised the science-fiction genre with District 9, and now he is seeking to reach audiences directly by releasing his latest series of short films online. The series of shorts are a product of Blomkamp’s new experimental incubator, Oats Studios. After completing three feature films within the last decade, Blomkamp felt the need for a creative space where a variety of ideas could be explored and produced, with the added benefit of having instant audience interaction that would allow him to see which ideas prove popular. If there is considerable interest in a particular short film, the story world could be developed further into a feature length film. The idea behind Oats Studios was to house the entire production process, from post-production and visual effects to production design and legal work, all under one roof. The incubator has been running for the past two years, employing approximately 35 people on a daily basis. Although Blomkamp intends to return to making feature films in the near future, having already signed on to direct an adaptation of The Gone World, he has also stressed the need for having alternative outlets for his creativity. “That’s where the thing with Oats is interesting. It’s this place where you can go from making massive films like ‘The Gone World’, which are traditional in the sense that they are released to theatres. But I wanted the other 50 percent of my life to be a creative sandbox, and see how those two things interact with...

Mannequin @ Cannes 2017

  We are excited to announce that Mannequin Films will be at Cannes 2017! We will be forming part of the Marche du Film market, spreading the word of the great benefits of filming in South Africa. Besides the weather, filming in South Africa is financially the smarter choice as there are many benefits awarded by the Department of Trade and Industries (DTi). If you would like to know more about these, come visit us at our stand: Mannequin Office 19 – 03  Level 01 Palais des Festival  Cannes Film Festival There are many great films showing at Cannes this year, among them is the controversial Okja, Sophia Coppola’s The Beguiled and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, all of which we are so excited to see. We’re especially looking forward to the Cannes Classics section, which will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Cannes Festival, with features such as All That Jazz and El Sol del Membrillo. See you all there for a magical few weeks of...
Robert Rodriguez’s Tips for Production Value

Robert Rodriguez’s Tips for Production Value

Robert Rodriguez. The name behind blockbuster hits such as Desperado, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, and Sin City, it is a name that is synonymous with success in the film industry. But the story of Robert Rodriguez is a rag to riches tale, and a fascinating one at that. At just 23, Rodriguez wrote, directed and produced the now industry famous and record setting cult classic El Mariachi for just US$7000, money that he earned himself from a stint in a research lab as a test subject for cholesterol medication. And lucky for him, his risk paid off. Columbia Pictures loved the finished film so much that they bought the American distribution rights, and El Mariachi went on to bank US$2 million at the box office. How did Rodriguez accomplish such a feat on less than an average Hollywood film’s daily catering budget? As a filmmaker looking to cut costs on your production (without compromising on quality and production value), Rodriguez has three pretty interesting tips for you:   Zoom, Don’t Cut Since time is usually your most expensive and limited resource, Rodriguez suggests that you shoot your medium shot of a scene, then zoom in and get your close ups/additional shots from there. This gives the illusion of a whole new set-up, but cuts the time it takes for an actual reset (provided the images are not juxtaposed immediately next to each other in the edit). The less time spent on new setups of course means there will be more time to assure the highest quality is achieved on each setup, which translates directly into higher production...
RSA and Kenya Sign Co-production Treaty

RSA and Kenya Sign Co-production Treaty

Two years ago at Cannes, South Africa and Kenya signed a MoU and are now working towards taking their film making relationship up yet another notch. During Discop Africa which was held this year in November in the city of Johannesburg, delegations from these two countries were deliberating over how both could reap benefits from a partnership between them and how resources and distribution resources between the two nations could be tapped into. The aim is that both countries can benefit from what the other has to offer. South Africa currently has eight co-production treaties running, but an agreement with Kenya will be the first treaty with another African nation. It’s hoped that this would set in motion greater co-operation between other African nations as well and that it will allow the continent to begin consuming what it produces within itself instead of what comes from abroad. One concern that the delegations addressed was the fear that since South Africa possesses over the continent’s most advanced and developed film industry, that it might create a Big Brother situation, where the more advanced South African industry ends up dominating and controlling their Kenyan counterparts. Terrence Khumalo of the NFVF (National Film and television Foundation) stressed that this would not be the case and that the point is not for the South African industry to impose itself on Kenya, but for South Africa to learn from Kenya instead. Khumalo added that the South African delegation was very taken in by the how successfully Kenya had implemented DTT transitions that opened a plethora of new opportunities for its local content creators, and...