Archive for July 2010
Some partnerships result in the kind of dark alchemy that only happens once in a lifetime. This is exactly what occurred when Ronnie and I crossed paths. What started as a spur-of-the-moment collaboration has evolved into a serious creative process with the founding of Black Milk Productions. This has resulted in award-winning short films such as KiTTY KiLL and Emma-O, as well as lush, surreal 23 Rue d’Amour.
Son of a poet and winemaker father, and passionate academic mother, Ronnie has excelled at his creative pursuits. Growing up on a wine farm in Paarl, situated in South Africa’s Western Cape, he spent his childhood watching horror films and appreciating the beauty within the unconventional.
After studying art and jewellery design at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, he travelled through Europe, increasing his love for culture, before establishing himself as an award-winning jewellery designer back here in South Africa. Some of these awards include “Winner, Anglo Gold Shining Light – Riches of Africa Jewellery Design Competition” (2000, 2001) and “Winner, DTC (Diamond), Shining Light Awards,” Jewellery Design Competition (2004).
Music, however, is also one of his passions, and some of the bands he has been involved in have included Alchemy, Gramlich, Fraustration, Revellus and, at present, as drummer for Terminatryx. I consider his musical abilities as masterful as his visual art.
He began his film-making projects in 2006, causing a stir at the SA Horrorfest with short films Die Grendel, followed by his horror classic On the Verge of Blood.
I share Ronnie’s love for horror films and culture. As a child growing up in Windhoek, Namibia, I immersed myself compulsively at every opportunity. After leaving the seclusion of that country and settling in Cape Town, I studied art at the Cape Technical College before focusing on graphic design at Austin Ellis Graphic Design School. Thereafter I jumped straight into the southern African media industry, working for companies such as Positive Image, The Agency (O&M Namibia) and Hunt Lascaris Namibia, starting in the humble seat of a repro dog to my present designation as a creative director for Amplifier Marketing Communications, and have won two international design awards during the course of my career.
My design and retouching experience has come in handy applied to my skills as an art photographer, and I’ve worked with Sheep on Drugs, VNV Nation and Black Orchid, among others. My photography has appeared in assorted national newspapers and magazines, including one small seed and SA Hotrods.
Five years ago I started seriously investigating short art movies, actively searching for the most bizarre examples, including works by Kenneth Anger, the Actionists, the Situationists, the movies of Matthew Barney and Peter Greenaway, as well as David Lynch’s short films. You can imagine how excited I was when Ronnie approached me to be part of his next project.
The reason why our partnership works so well is because we have so many congruent passions and interests, for instance Ronnie is also a very well-respected photographer in South Africa and we often help each other on shoots and other projects, including photographing Terminatryx.
This symbiosis is perfectly illustrated in a painting used as a prop in our latest film, Regression, which we created using acrylics and other media. We also burnt the painting, which is a technique Ronnie has used on numerous occasions, which was new to me.
I look forward to seeing how our latest work will turn out, as each production has grown in scope since those humble beginnings armed only with boundless enthusiasm and a handy-cam.
The technical requirements of the cinematography were daunting as we wanted to capture very specific shots to compliment the storyline and mood. We realized the importance of using the correct gear and hardware – without which most of the shots would not have been possible.
Visual Impact was generous enough to supply us with the equipment we needed to bring to fruition the BlackMilk vision and do justice to our screenplay . Without their kind assistance, our film could not possibly have turned out to be of the exceptional quality you would expect of a Black Milk Production.
The whole BlackMilk production crew would like to extend their thanks to the Visual Impact Cape Town team!
For more information, or to contact Visual Impact, please visit their website: visuals.tv
Or contact them direct on Johannesburh +27 (0)11 788 9879 or Cape Town +27 (0)21 468 6002 and find out why the majority of their clients come back time after time after time!
So, when Dr-Benway and I decide to sit down and write a new script, there are always a few rules we stick to… Here they are:
1. A small cast: We always try to keep our cast as small as possible so all characters are focused and multi-faceted. We never have extras.
2. A non-descriptive era: We never 100% reference to a specific era, but rather mix elements from different eras to create and interesting time.
3. Claustrophobic locations: Most of our locations have claustrophobic elements – dark, wet, cold, confined, rotten.
4. Three main acts: Our first and third Acts are usually very similar, but the view of it changes due to what happened in the second act. Man goes to feed Kitty, he remembers their love, he goes to kill Kitty.
5. Multi dimensional: We never truly know if the story unfolds in the minds of the characters, if they are in a dream world, or if they move within real environments.
6. Interesting wardrobe: Our characters always wear interesting clothes, specifically conceptualised and manufactured for the purpose – beautiful suit, Italian Fedora hat, WWI gas mask.
7. Love: A very prominent theme in all our films. Love can bring out the best and the worst human elements. It can set us free and consume us.
8. Elements of travel: There is always some element that “transports” an important part of the story. In KiTTY KiLL it was a hallway, EMMA-O it was water, in 23 Rue D’Amour it was numerous elements in conjunction with one female character.
9. Fish: Fish have huge symbolic value for us. In KiTTY KiLL, our male went to go offer a fish to Kitty. In 23 Rue D’Amour, our two gold fish were incorporated in many key scenes.
10. My personal favorite: “Woman kills Man”.
Now you know.
The script went through many transformations since we started the writing process in April last year, but the essence remained the same: love, loss and the vicious cycle it can create. We all have to face our true selves to break that cycle.
This is one of our most ambitious projects thus far and an amazing team was assembled to create this work of art.
After Thomas and I finished the script, we met up with the amazing artist Daniel Hugo, who proceeded to brainstorm some ideas with us. A few bottles of red wine later, we had our film story-boarded. It was amazing to see the locations and characters come to life on paper.
The process really started in April this year when our casting director Lynette Ou Tim secured us the Digital Brothers casting studio, where we met with the potential cast. All of them completely understood the role and what was needed, so it was a very difficult decision for us to choose…
But at the end we went with AnGie Kennedy, Stephen Preston and Georgia Brooker.
Their acting skills have breathed life into our characters and let them become more than what we could ever imagine. Our art director and production designer Este Kira never ceases to absolutely blow us away with her talent and passion. Our films have most definitely stepped up a notch since her involvement and she has created a beautiful environment for our story to live in. Once again one of our production affiliates, Sex on Toast, has delivered us with all the needed tools and gear to create this work of art. Special thanks also to Visual Impact for its support, sponsorship, and belief in this project.
This is also the first time that Thomas and I attempted to involve CGI in one of our films… This seemed to be a very daunting task when we wrote specific scenes, but as soon as the great CGI artist Daniel Luz was involved our concerns were immediately put at ease. Daniel conducted some CGI tests for us which completely blew us away, so we decided to involve him in a major capacity.
As per usual, the sound design forms a major part of our films. Henk Smith from NewMediaSound will once again manage this department. He is currently busy composing the music and creating the atmospheric sound elements needed to place the location within an isolated environment. We are also currently scouting for a violinist to play some of the parts.
When the award-winning Leon Visser showed interest in Cinematography, we really knew we were in business. Leon is not only an amazing person, but understands the vision and passion that Thomas and I have. He has become a major driving force and his cinematography on this film is world class…
We also had a very creative and passionate production team, which included photographers, scenic artists, construction workers, make-up artists, wardrobe assistants, etc. Thanks goes to Lohan Koegelenberg, Jim Morel, Zoltan T Szabo, Leon Partridge, Pierre Smit, Donovan, Stefanie Wille, Ashleigh Sasman, Dominique Marais, and especially to Nerine Dorman (Benway) for her support, to name a few.
We are currently busy with post production.
Updates to follow.