Tempomedia and Red Petal get creative on location in Johannesburg for Opel
When most people think of shooting in South Africa, they think of Cape Town and the Western Cape. The beautiful locations close to the small and intimate city are extremely attractive for shooting and the ease with which everything is done makes production simple and effective.
However, South Africa has a lot of other beautiful areas and a place that often gets neglected is Johannesburg. It receives a lot of bad press around the world for crime and safety issues, and is quickly overlooked as a seriously viable option for filming in South Africa.
In November 2011 Red Petal Productions was brought into the quoting process on the latest Opel Corsa Celebration of Fun commercial. Tempomedia Filmproduktion GmbH was looking for the perfect place to shoot Prettybird USA director Paul Hunter’s vision.
In order to achieve the fun and playful nature of the commercial, we had to be able to achieve huge and effective lock-offs as well as ‘smoking up’ the city.
Cape Town was considered but couldn’t offer what the team was looking for in line with their schedule. The production needed wide streets for side-by-side driving over three consecutive days, which proved problematic in Cape Town. Plus, the city itself is easily recognised and often considered ‘over-used’ around the world.
The director was looking for a neutral and visually beautiful backdrop. In order to achieve the fun and playful nature of the commercial, we had to be able to achieve huge and effective lock-offs as well as ‘smoking up’ the city. Johannesburg made the shoot a smooth and manageable process from start to finish.
Paul wanted to avoid using CGI smoke, but in tests the effects of wind drag weren’t delivering the visuals he wanted. Powder paint seemed to be the best option, but there was a danger it would cause environmental problems filming in the city. Clean-up, residue and response to any water on the locations were the major issues.
Clean-ups and wash downs for the paint had to be carried out after each sequence, using two street sweepers and a clean-up team. The Johannesburg municipality and their film office were incredibly helpful, open to suggestions to work together and accommodated nearly all of our requests.
We were limited in the areas we could use paint and so we brought in pyrotechnic smoke from the UK and aviation smoke from Germany to try and resolve the wind issues, but customs delays meant these imports only arrived the day before shooting.
As we watched powder paint explode and waft down the street, or covered a street with blue paint outside the national bank, the worry was tangible, but the clean-up team did an outstanding job.
The first sequence was set up and when the camera rolled there was an audible intake of breath from the crew. The red car crossed in front of the white car with a beautiful band of smoke billowing behind it. It was a magnificent shot and set the tone for the rest of the shoot.
There were real nail-biting moments with the paint and the surrounding locations, one of which was to blast 12 or so kilograms of powder paint into the air to create the effect of the yellow and blue cars smoke combining to allow the green car to emerge. As we watched powder paint explode and waft down the street, or covered a street with blue paint outside the national bank, the worry was tangible, but the clean-up team did an outstanding job.
Paul wanted to be able to have cars crossing each other on flyovers and highways – all in the opposite direction of the national traffic flow – and we managed to temporarily block highways in order to shoot aerial sequences and to allow cars to drive along off-ramps and on-ramps on their own. The Metro Police were very helpful in managing traffic flows and road closures for us, which has rarely been allowed before.
All the Cape Town gear houses have offices or representation in the city, which allows for equipment support at a world-class level. To match this, we were mostly crewed by Call A Crew Johannesburg, who represent a good percentage of the top technical crew available. We kept a security guard with our foreign team at all times and everyone had a very relaxed and unaffected shoot.
Johannesburg doesn’t offer the well-oiled services available in Cape Town and some patience is required when it comes to hotels, production support and suppliers. That said, when you bring the key elements with you, there’s the platform for a great and memorable shoot.
Production Company: Tempomedia Filmproduktion GmbH
Producer: Stephan Brockmann
Executive Producer: Alexander Schildt
Production Service Company: Red Petal Productions
Service Producer: Toni Marais
Director of Photography: Phillipe Le Sourd
Director: Paul Hunter
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