Written by on Nov 7, 2013. Posted in Production News

Film de Liberte films canine swimmers in South Africa for Folksam insurance

Swedish production company Film de Liberte filmed in South Africa for a new commercial for major insurance company Folksam. Diving Dogs features a group of cute canines swimming underwater on a tropical reef, where they sniff exotic fish and encounter a distant whale.

After a broad global scout, South Africa won out as the decisive filming location over options in Los Angeles and Mexico, due to the budget, production schedule and weather. The team spent three days filming background plate shots in Sodwana Bay, a 280 km-long protected wetland area off the coast of KwaZulu-Natal in north-east South Africa.

“Aside from wanting (or in a few shots not wanting) wild animals in frame, the main challenge was the wind and waves over the reef,” explains Anders Eklund, a Producer with Film de Liberte: “Sodwana is a park with beautiful reefs and a lot of animals, but it has no harbour so we had to launch from the beach in RIBs (Reinforced Inflatable Boats) with all our equipment.”

The dogs were filmed separately in a military swimming pool in Wynberg near Cape Town with a blue-screen background for later insertion into the reef shots. Conditions were too cold to film in the sea with the dogs as the shoot took place during the South African winter.

"We had to build several platforms in the water to accommodate the different dogs' methods of entering the pool and also to enable us to position the camera to best capture their entry," adds Di Davis, a Producer with service company The Big Picture Company: "Some leapt in from the edge, some off a bridge we had rigged across the width of the pool and some slid in from a surface level platform."

“The challenge was of course directing the dogs,” says Eklund: “All the dogs loved swimming underwater but that is not the same as doing it in the exact angles and speeds that the director Markus Johnson wanted to match the storyboards and back plates.”

South Africa is a popular international filming location and the opening of Cape Town Film Studios has helped attract major productions in the last couple of years. Pirate drama Black Sails is a major TV miniseries based at the studios that will debut in 2014 and has already been commissioned for a second series, while rescue drama SAF3 (pronounced ‘Safe’) is doubling Cape Town for Malibu in California.

Client: Folksam
Agency: Akestam Holst
Production Company: Film de Liberte, Stockholm
Producer: Anders Eklund
Production Service Company: The Big Picture Company, Cape Town
Producer: Di Davis
Director of Photography: Eric Börjesson
Director: Markus Johnson


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