Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Ad man gets reel

Titled Slash, it is co-written by Stephen Francis (co-creator of Madam and Eve) and satirist Gus Silber, and is directed by commercials director Ian Gabriel. It revolves around the misadventures of a grunge rock’n’roll band that travels back to the lead singer’s creepy, old family home to attend a funeral when things go awry. Francis says: “It’s kind of like Old Mac Donald had an … axe!”

Steve Railsback, who played Charles Manson in the cult movie Helter Skelter, is in the lead, with local actor Danny Keogh playing his father. And funky pin-up Nick Boraine features as Billy Bob, one of the suspected killers — but Gabriel says they’re making special teeth for him: “He’ll lose that pretty smile, we’re gonna make his teeth look totally fucked.”

Durban-born Gabriel is known in the film industry as the hottest commercials director in the country, if not in the world, having worked in the United States, the United Kingdom, Asia and Europe. At age 50 he is finally making his first feature and reckons he’s a young director: “Listen I’m much younger than John Huston; but then again he’s dead.”

Gabriel has directed more than 200 commercials. Locally his best-known one is for the 1994 elections — an epic project with the letter X transcribed on landscapes. For a long time he was stereotyped as the hipster who makes stylish ads and in the late Eighties he was the cool dude to hang around with at DV8 or other inner-city nightclubs.

Gabriel’s feature is the first project of this kind to enjoy the backing of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), which has put up slightly more than 40% of the budget ($3-million). The irony is that the movie is set in the American South. However, Sam Bhembe, head of the IDC’s media and motion picture division, said: “The reality is that the business of motion pictures is different to film as an art form. We look beyond the art form to see what business can be made of it.”

Clearly through Slash, which was originally titled Dead on My Feet and then Dead Quiet, New African Media is aiming for a theatrical release both here and abroad. So it has formed Wild Coast Releasing, which will sell its films both locally and internationally.

In addition, New African Media has started up an arm called Scream Africa, which aims to make African feature films by emerging directors in the R1,5-million budget range.

The power behind this is thirty-something American Amy Moore. “South Africa,” she says, “is the miracle country. In terms of business I came here because of the vast potential … New African Media Films is a ‘value chain’ that includes distribution and training. The South African film industry can make a virtue out of its handicaps.

“At New African Media Films we love movies and believe that entertainment must be entertaining. I’d rather have a date with Austin Powers than with Billy Elliot, though Billy Elliot was a flawless movie in my opinion. Hopefully New African Media Films can produce a range for all tastes.”

As for Gabriel he is completely unashamed about making an American movie with Middelburg doubling as a small town on Arkansas’s Route 50 — which has been called “the loneliest highway in the world”.

“It’s Gauteng-Midwest, but if we can show that we can make movies like this and get them shown around the world then at last we will be able to make our own stories. But I really don’t want to make a dreary socio-political South African movie.”

To that end Gabriel’s company, Giant Films, is developing two movies — one about the Foster gang and a lock, stock, Romeo and Juliet-type story set on the Cape Flats called The Gam Brulee. Nice to see that the ad men are finally getting serious about making movies that last longer than a minute.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

South Africa’s mothballed ‘supermall-ification’ sets strip malls up for success

Analysts agree that the country has enough malls and that, post-Covid, the convenience of local centres lure customers

Mabuza’s Russian jaunts and the slippery consequences of medical tourism

For more than five years the deputy president has remained steadfast in his right to travel abroad to receive medical treatment

More top stories

Deputy president Mabuza begs Tshwane voters: ‘Don’t abandon the ANC’

Angry Atteridgeville residents hurl insults at ‘dysfunctional’ ANC full of ‘corrupt individuals’ as Mabuza fails to placate them with party T-shirts and doeks

Taxi operators clash with cops over disputed Route B97 in...

Three suspects remain in custody following their arrest on charges of attempted murder and assault after eight taxis were impounded

SA teens, you’re next in the queue for a vaccine...

Teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 will be able to register to receive their Covid-19 jab from 20 October. This group will be given only one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, for now

Former US secretary of state Colin Powell dies aged 84

The 84-year-old died as a result of complications from Covid-19
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×