An important part of Fresh Eye Production's culture is to use their production and directing skills to highlight the plight of welfare organisations in South Africa.
Together with The Agency, they have recently produced a public service advert (PSA) for the - Play It Again Foundation. And there are two more in the pipeline, which will also be entered into this year's awards.
Play it again Foundation advert called 'Dying Words' was directed by Film Director duo Craig Blyth and Amy Alias, who are about to start filming the next PSA television commercial for the Triangle Project (gay association) on gay homophobia.
Says Craig Blyth, "it is always a little trickier doing adverts for welfare organisations. We have to rely solely on the kindness of others. Most of the actors in the Play It Again Foundation commercial were recruited off the streets. Although, we had to coach them to improve their performances, the camera loved them and they loved the camera. The great talent that exists in these people makes me think that we are sometimes looking in the wrong places when we are casting for commercials that have budgets."
If Fresh Eye donated their time and skills to making an advert for philanthropic reasons, why would they put two film directors on the job? In reply, Blyth says: "Well, two heads are better than one. Whether the advert is a PSA or not, our standards in terms of art direction, story telling, client processes, post production and cinematography still have to be very high. Although not common in South Africa, directing duos are quite the norm in Europe and in the US. On my own, I can do good work, but together with Amy - I can do great work and that is what counts."
Laurie Wapenaar music director of the Johannesburg Orchestra company from the Play it again Foundation said: "There are so many children that would love to play an instrument, but can't afford to buy one. The kindness of the people who gave up their time to help us build awareness with this commercial is overwhelming. I was on set for most of the production and something that struck me was the politeness of the young film crew with each other."
In their third dollop of generosity this year, Fresh Eye, are about to start work on an advert for Aids Awareness, which was created by Jupiter Drawing Room. The film director, who is carving a niche as one of SA's top performance humour Directors, Bevan Cullinan says: "Aids is a very serious problem, but as strange as this sounds, we have decided to use humour to draw attention to just how serious it is. The idea for the advert is a soap opera spoof or rip off, kind of a parody, which turns to a more sombre note at the end. Egoli have kindly lent us their set for the shoot which starts on17 September 2004."
In line with the Commercial Producers Association's (CPA) skills development program, Fresh Eye runs a mentorship programme for 'wannabe' film producers. Says, Executive Producer, Gavin Gillespie: "PJ Makosholo has been with us since November last year and has been mentored by one of our senior producers. He was the production co-ordinating on our latest PSA advert and there is no doubt he has great potential to do well in this business."
Says PJ: "To a novice like myself, working on 'Dying Words' was quite an experience. Doing our best with no money is the stuff that nightmares are made of. But having people around that are willing to help turns the mountain into a molehill. As an intern, I believe that this was the best experience I could hope for. Firstly, I had to organise auditions. This should have been a cakewalk, if I wasn't looking for old black South Africans willing to act for nothing and travel to the audition on their pension. The next challenge was finding a crew who were prepared to give up their time. And the biggest challenge was finding a suitable location. We found the type of hospital we were looking for in Edenvale, but it still required quite major prepping. What I learnt from this experience is - things are improbable not impossible and if you need proof - look at the ad."
Gillespie says, "We are fortunate enough to be a successful part of the film industry in this country. I believe we have a responsibility to use our talents to make a difference in our society and I know that all our suppliers, who willingly help us each time, feel the same way."
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