5 pm – It’s time to head to the airport in Munich. I arrive early, so there’s plenty of time to do some duty-free shopping. Boarding time is right at 6:30 pm, take off is at 7:10 pm. I’ve got 11 long hours of flying ahead of me, with only 10 cm of leg room. While inspecting this small distance, I watch in silent horror as a young family with a baby settle into their seats right in front of me. Checking out the in-flight media library, I’m happy to see some new films I’m not familiar with among the selections. The baby’s crying melts into the score of “Jackie”…
7:40 am – The plane lands in Cape Town right on time. Afterwards, I spend an hour waiting in line for the passport control, another large flight probably landed at the same time as ours. Looks like it’ll take a while. Our photographer, Albert van Rosendaal, greets me a bit on edge. Well, the poor guy had to wait there for me for almost one and a half hours. My heart drops as I suddenly realize that I left my duty-free shopping on the plane. Despite Albert’s objections, I insist on backtracking through the whole airport to get to the Lufthansa office. Of course, no one had turned in my items. Albert, you’re right. I just believe in the inherent goodness of people…
Finally, we’re outside in the fresh air, and Kapstadt welcomes me with 25 °C and sunshine. We drive for about an hour through the city to get to Durbanville, a district located northeast of the city center, situated near the wine regions of Stellenbosch and Paarl.
After arriving at the studio office, we begin to discuss the truck trip shoot in Camps Bay, which is planned for that afternoon.
I get to meet Albert’s team: Pauline (nicknamed Pauliki), Regardt and Xavier, the three assistants. There’s also Isabelle, the office manager, Corlene, Albert’s wife, and James, the all-rounder. Albert’s friend J.P. is there, too, filling in as the coordinator for Riaan, who’s unfortunately sick. It’s a really nice group. Together we go over the productions planned for tomorrow and Sunday, discussing the work flow and scheduled models, bookings for additional models and establishing the lineup. Then we drive to Albert’s house, which is just around the corner from the studio, to pick up something. While doing so I think hey, maybe I should move to Kapstadt, if that’s how ordinary people here live.
By now it’s already almost 2 pm. J.P. takes me to my hotel, which is just two blocks away, so I can change into some lighter clothes, because the temperature now is probably about 28 °C. Then we’re off to Camps Bay. Everybody arrives at the location on time, some showed up even earlier. Everything’s there: the models, the assistants with the gear, wardrobe and other equipment. Then the truck rolls in.
It’s a Chevy, dating from the middle of the last century, which barely makes it to the spot we’ve chosen near the hillsides of the bay. Incredible – back home, a vehicle in that shape would be taken off the streets within 10 minutes. Yet here, no one raises an eyebrow. The driver swiftly places rocks behind the wheels, like portable brakes, and it strikes me like something that could come straight out of the movie Paris, Texas. I decide to include the driver in some of the shots.
Now we’re starting to get down to business – Coordinating the wardrobe, discussing make-up. In the meantime, formidable clouds have not only gathered around Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, but are also amassing directly over us. Then, in fact, for the first time in about 4 months, it begins to rain. Hmmm…I must have brought the rain with me. The rain is just a light drizzle though, which quickly subsides, leaving behind an unpleasant wind. It keeps getting grayer and grayer. Faced with this atmosphere, we realize that we can hardly begin to capture warm, summery moments of a little getaway with the truck and our youthful group of models – 3 men and 2 women, all about 20 years old. Albert is still trying out a few things with an intense flash, but soon after we decide to call it off. There’s just no market clamoring for images of a dreary Cape Town.
We decide to postpone the production to an unspecified later date, and then we go for hamburgers. I try the local Sauvignon Blanc with Albert, we have a good chat and talk more about the production. It turns out to be a late night. At about midnight, totally exhausted, I finally crawl into bed. On the plane I couldn’t manage to sleep more than two hours.
We take an early trip out to the winery in Stellenbosch, or more specifically, to a farm for tasting local specialties that’s located at the winery.
We’ve casted an extended family, with grandma, grandpa, two sets of parents, children and dogs. Geese are playing around in the foreground, without even being booked for the shoot.
We’re shooting the whole program, with playing in the fields and strolling around, but most of all, enjoying and celebrating with food and drink. Pretty much everything you do when you have a big family gathering in the countryside. We’re sometimes using a ring flash, and Albert starts working up a sweat…
It’s a great, successful day – we got super shots in the can, uh, on the memory card!
Today is the first of two large business shoots in the center of Kapstadt. We’re able to film at the location of ZaiLab, an internationally active software firm. Portside Tower, the address of the company’s headquarters, is the newest skyscraper in Cape Town City Centre. The interior design is spectacular as well. It’s clear that the folks at ZaiLab draw inspiration from Kubrick’s 2001 – A Space Odyssey or Star Wars.
With today’s shots, we want to take advantage of the geometry of the rooms and the unique interior design to convey our concepts. The day after tomorrow we’ll be here again to focus on motion.
The prediction Albert made early that morning turns out to be true: Table Mountain reveals itself in the clear afternoon sky and is strikingly beautiful.
It’s 8 in the morning, the sun is shining as we make our way to Kapstadt for a casting. For the casting, we reserved a table in a nice café in Long Street. From the 100 models expected, only about 30 showed up. However, we’re able to engage several of them for the next productions.
Afterwards, we return to the studio in Durbanville. Then we’re off to Albert’s house, where we’re doing our next shoot with the subject ‘seniors in shared housing’.
Our seniors act perfectly, so after the vacuuming and ironing they can go out on the terrace to have a bite to eat. This day also turns out to be a long day. At midnight I make my way to my hotel bed, exhausted yet content.
We’re visiting ZaiLab for the second time. As I mentioned previously, today we’ll be focusing on particular working situations and moving scenes.
The head of ZaiLab surprises us by presenting a videographer who will film us while shooting and hold spontaneous interviews. That afternoon, the edited, finished video is already available on YouTube:
After a taxing, yet promising day, some of us around the corner go for an after-work drink.
Today we’re going to a retirement home. Our main focus for the day is care, attention and living at an advanced age – subjects which are significantly in demand and which we absolutely wanted to cover in productions.
In Tyger Valley, a suburb of Kapstadt, we shoot both a young and a mature couple as tourists, and take a few more business shots.
Today is our last day. 8 exhausting days of production, one right after the other, have left us all showing noticeable signs of fatigue. On the agenda today is a half-day business shoot on Albert Luthuli Place in the heart of the city, and following that, a repeat of our truck trip shoot in Camps Bay.
Off to Camps Bay…
On the way we get stuck in heavy traffic. Apparently, cycling enthusiasts from around the world are coming in for the huge Kap Bike Circuit event on the weekend. It takes us three times longer than usual to get there, and on the way there we find out that J.P. is stranded somewhere with the production bus, due to a problem with the ignition. Yep, the final day is a real doozy…
It’s about 4:30 in the afternoon, and it’s an unbelievable 38 °C in the shade. We take turns waiting in the cars with air conditioning until everyone is on site. After about an hour’s delay, we can finally get started.
We start at Signal Hill. At about 6 pm we switch to our observation deck on Camps Bay.
At quarter to eight the sun is setting and the light is simply magnificent!
My dreams are interrupted by the odd-sounding ringing of a phone. Oh man, it’s the reception – it’s 6 am and Albert is already waiting at the door to bring me to the airport. I forgot to set my alarm! Everything happens in a whirlwind: I throw my things into the suitcase, splash my face with water and then I’m off. My flight back home leaves at 8:30. Luckily, however, the flight had a one hour delay, so there was enough time for me to go shopping again…
So long, Table Mountain. It was an arduous, exciting and beautiful trip! I’m already looking forward to all the pictures we made here!