Subscribe to industry newsletters

Advertise on Bizcommunity

Picture Tree's Steytler earning praise for visionary Haezer video

The Wim Steytler-directed video for Haezer's new single, Minted, is earning high praise for its visionary depiction of Johannesburg's unseen inner-city.
click to enlarge
click to enlarge
Noted African culture site, AfriPop! called the video a "spectacular visual story", picking up on Steytler's unique ability to go far beneath the surface to create something extraordinary.

The process of creating the video for Minted, which is featured on Haezer's five track EP, Gold Plated Frequencies, began with two stills photos taken by Steytler on one of his many regular journeys into abandoned and hijacked buildings in Johannesburg.

"I had been doing a photography project about these buildings for about four months prior to shooting the video," says Steytler.

"I use the spaces as my studios, and work with the people living in these buildings as my characters. I choose not to take a documentary angle, but rather intervene and set up moments, so I use these people almost like actors. The work then begins to move into surreal, magic realism, territory. I take stills of the moments that present themselves to me in the spaces, and then I develop ideas for videos."

The inspiration for the visual and narrative elements of Minted came from two photographs in particular.

"One of my friends - nicknamed 'Hero' and who has this crazy Afro-punk look - was exploring a hijacked building with me and fashioned a makeshift flaming torch so that we could venture into darker rooms," explains the director. "The still I took of that came out really well."

"And then - in another photo - a mate of mine, Tsepo, showed me his rooftop and spontaneously started doing crazy dance moves. We found a piece of red material lying on a trash heap and dressed him in that, transforming him into a voodoo sorcerer character that we called The Rat Catcher."

When he listened to Minted while grading stills from his photography project, Steytler was struck by how the latest single from the electronic producer provided the perfect soundtrack to the images. "I was amazed how the track picked up the grit, the tension and the darkness of my subject matter. I just knew it was the perfect fit."

Minted sees Hero and The Rat Catcher transform into African superheroes who stand up for oppressed and marginalised communities living in Joburg - especially those, like the Somalian community depicted in the video, facing xenophobia.

In creating this compelling social statement, Steytler worked with DOP Peter Tischhauser, as well as Picture Tree's Gary King as executive producer.

The result is an epic, urgent, cinematic music video that marks out the Picture Tree director as creating Afrocentric work that tells the story of the continent in a remarkable way.

Haezer - Minted from Picture Tree on Vimeo.

About Wim Steytler

*Wim Steytler studied art and visual communication at Stellenbosch University and has a background in editing. He recently jumped from research to director because of his talent in creating emotive and provocative films. His work in documentary and music videos has given him a unique combination of skills in producing content that is stylised but still captures human connection.

Directed by: Wim Steytler
DOP: Peter Tischhauser & Chris Vermaak
STEADYCAM OP: Chris Vermaak
Art Director: Sue Steele
Wardrobe: Sue Steele
Executive Producer: Gary King
Producer: Johnny Mabeba
Editor: Wim Steytler
Animation: BFX Studios
Post Production Facility: Bladeworks