Monday, October 3, 2011


In September, Cape-based director Jo Higgs of Go Trolley Films and producer Jacky Lourens of Get The Picture attended the GoodPitchSquared in Johannesburg in order to present their extraordinary one-hour film, Men From Altantis.

The purpose of the GoodPitchSquared is to marry great documentary film projects with broadcasters, funders, NGOs, civil society organizations and cross-platform partners to enable the film to have maximum impact and reach.

Jo and Jacky had created a doc with huge appeal, and they arrived for the GoodPitchSquared with hopes of finding new audiences for this fantastic work that tells the following story:

Men From Atlantis is about two brothers, Hilton and Nathan Geduld, who live in Altantis - a Cape community characterized by high incidence of gender violence, alcoholism and despair. Determined to change the perception that men from Atlantis are “no good” the brothers embarked upon an extraordinary 150km journey: they would carry a woman on a stretcher from Cape Point, along the Cape Peninsula back to Atlantis. An epic trek of 150 kilometres, and a world first. Their message: “we’re sick of being represented as a community of drug dealers, rapists and lost causes and we’re going to do the bravest thing we can think of to speak out against abuse not only in Atlantis but in our notoriously unsafe country as a whole.” Battling the elements and long stretches of grueling sand, they hoped to raise R100 000 for the House of Healing – one of the only places of refuge for abused women and children in Atlantis.

This is Jo’s account of her experience at GoodPitchSquared:

The Good Pitch was an extraordinary experience for us. I cant think of a better thing to have happened for the ‘Men From Atlantis’ campaign.

We arrived three days before the event and were trained as ninja pitchers by the awe inspiring trio: Brian Tilley, Steven Markowitz and Jess Search of the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation. For two grueling days we developed and refined our pitches within the safety and camaraderie of our fellow filmmakers after which we were left to give it our best shot at the actual event. The idea was to pitch to a table of hand picked NGOs, media partners and foundations aligned with the themes and messages of our film so that collaborations that were good for everybody could emerge. An audience of around two hundred people looked on.

Because our film is finished we were mostly looking for support for our outreach campaign, media partners and support for the shelter that is highlighted in the film.

Pitching something that you are so close to in four minutes is difficult. But I think the coaching worked well and all teams delivered a radically improved pitch to our initial attempts on the first day we all met. Jacky Lourens, my great friend and producer for ‘Men From Atlantis’, and I pitched our story and asked for resources and support for a community screening campaign. These screenings would be followed by discussions around the issues of representation of places traditionally perceived as ‘lost’, of abuse, of fatherhood and of men positioning themselves firmly as part of the solution. We were overwhelmed by a commitment to partner and develop the outreach further from Sonke Gender Justice and Khulisa Social Services. The latter committing to a series of digital storytelling workshops using the groundbreaking ‘What it looks like when its fixed’ model developed by Dr Barbara Holtmann.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation also committed to giving the film visibility on their website and potentially using part of it in their Mandela Day Campaign. LoveLife was very excited to use the film and its messaging across its media – reaching millions of young people. Action Aid, StreetFootball World, The Funda Advice Centre, Khuphuka CBO, Phaphama and Amnesty International all agreed to participate in the outreach campaign and look into further collaborations.

On the media partners side we were really excited to be offered a channel on the Bozza mobi platform. Al Jazeera were interested in seeing the film and spoke to us after about making another.

Although the SABC did stand up and sound excited from the floor after the pitch we would have loved a commitment from them. But we’re hopeful.

Potential support and resources were offered for the shelter.

We were blown away by the spirit of collaboration and goodwill that characterised the whole event. And I think for the next film I’ll start thinking about these types of partnerships much before the film is finished. In a filmmaking environment where commissioning is no longer the obvious path, this type of resource and idea pooling seems an excellent idea. Not just to get the film made. Or seen. But to make it stronger. So it can be the agent for positive change that it aspires to be.

Its exciting to imagine how the community screenings of the film and subsequent discussions or storytelling workshops will be strengthened by the involvement of, say, Sonke Gender Justice or Khulisa Social Services. And how the film will become so much more than just the film as it sits here, on a DVD, on my desk.

I feel enormously privileged to have been a part of the Good Pitch Squared this year. My most heartfelt thanks to Anita Khanna and Rehad Desai for making it possible.”

Watch the trailer for Men From Atlantis here.

Men From Atlantis serves as a great example of the impact to be leveraged through partner-organisations who sit outside of the usual television broadcaster remit.

The Ford Foundation’s Just Films grant fund works in a similar way.

Just Films is a USA-based fund started by the Ford Foundation.

However, by partnering with one of Ford’s five agencies locally in South Africa, one can access the Just Films fund. You simply has to bear in mind that your film must speak to the mandate of the Ford Foundation locally.

To read more about the Just Films fund, go here.

To read more about Ford Foundation’s work in SA, go here.

In SA the Ford Foundation focuses on:

Democratic and Accountable Government

Human Rights

Economic Fairness

Educational Opportunity and Scholarship

Sexuality and Reproductive Health and Rights

Contact the South African Ford Foundation office most relevant to your film, find out whether there is interest in your film and whether the local representative is willing to support your grant application; then, with the agency's backing you can apply to Just Films for a grant.

No comments:

Post a Comment