Behind the Scenes: Filming a Documentary/Commercial for the US Peace Corps Response in Johannesburg, South Africa
Documentaries and commercials have the power to inspire, educate, and create a lasting impact and the challenge for filmmakers lies in capturing a great deal of meaningful footage and then condensing it into only a few seconds.
We recently had the privilege of undertaking this very meaningful project with our American client who needed to bring into focus the important work that the Peace Corps Response volunteers do in Johannesburg, South Africa. From brainstorming ideas remotely with our client, to assembling a winning production team – as film fixers we were able to smooth out all logistical creases while building wonderful relationships – the end-product left all our hearts feeling warm and fuzzy.
The success of any film production begins with thorough pre-production and planning. Our client collaborated closely with our production team to define the message and the target audience of the story they wanted to tell. In pre-production meetings we soon learned that like each project, this one would require a unique approach to be able to authentically depict the nature of the PCR and find the nuances that set it apart from other volunteer work in the field. It was enlightening for us to learn and become inspired by the uplifting work that is being done. This soon became a project that would lie very close to our hearts, bringing together human stories and experiences from all corners of the world.
Our exceptional Johannesburg fixing team was entrusted with every department of this production.
We selected one of our top directors who thoroughly researched and understood the objective. To start with we had our highly seasoned location manager join hands with PC representatives to scout and identify a variety of locations which contributed to the director’s treatment and ultimately to the beauty of the film. Johannesburg, known for its rich history and vibrant culture, was chosen as the primary filming location due to the different organisations which are supported by the US Peace Corps. The film crew was carefully selected based on their expertise and experience in documentary filmmaking. It was essential to have a team that could capture the essence of the Peace Corps Response program while being sensitive to the local context and culture. From before sunrise shoots out in the open fields to capturing the most salient aspects of the volunteers’ interaction within communities and one-on-one, our top-notch crew weaved magic to bring it all together and capture some breath-taking footage.
Our international guests were supported in every way as well: we procured the compulsory FIVA letters on their behalf which serve as work permits within the film industry in South Africa. Arranging accommodations for the crew and cast is a crucial part of any film production. In this case, the production team worked closely with local partners to secure comfortable, safe, and convenient lodgings for the duration of the shoot. Crew and gear were procured by working with trusted suppliers with whom we have long standing relationships, and this allowed for us to negotiate rates in order to shape around the available budget. For their free time and general transportation, we provided chaperones with tons of local expertise to show our clients some of what Johannesburg can offer in terms of scenery and culinary delights – all while on the back end we were ensuring logistical arrangements such as transportation, equipment rentals, catering and film permits were in place to guarantee a problem free film shooting process. A memorable highlight of their day out was a visit to the Lion & Safari Park where they were able to witness some of the most celebrated and renowned wildlife SA can boast of including the African big cats, zebras, and giraffes. They were also able to visit the Chameleon African market, where having a local in the party to bargain down some extra high touristy prices turned out to be a great saving.
Due to the relationship that developed between our client and our local director, a new option was explored to include the director in the international post production team to make sure the vision stays as beautifully aligned as it was on set. This is most certainly a testament to the synergy of our partnership on this project and I would confidently say the feeling is mutual and that we cannot wait to partner again soon – may it be back in Jozi or in any one of the other regions we fix in all over Africa and in the Middle East.
The process of producing a documentary/commercial for a cause as significant as recruiting volunteers for the Peace Corps Response program in Johannesburg is a complex and rewarding endeavour. From the initial planning stages to leading into post-production, every aspect of the production was carefully orchestrated to create a captivating and impactful film. The collaboration between our American client, the production team, and Peace Corps Response volunteers showcases the power of human connection and of storytelling to inspire, change and engage audiences worldwide. Johannesburg offers incredible infrastructure and resources to make a film project a hassle-free reality and our production team is ready to welcome you and hit the ground running!
To work with us, contact us today.