Pumped to announce that multiple award-winning industry veteran David Nicholas Wilkinson has come on board as executive producer for All The Wild Horses. Former chairman of online streamer Distrify as well as producer and maverick distributor through his own production outfit Guerilla Films, David brings an incredible wealth of expertise to the project and with over one hundred films to his name, he is uniquely placed to help push our film into theatres and onto TV screens.
2014 was busy. A couple of commercials, a brand film, a making-of documentary for the Royal Opera in London and a corporate film for Discover America meant I could use my feature film experience to explore new ways to tell corporate and personal stories. Even though it slowed down work on the cinema feature All The Wild Horses, it also meant that 2015 is shaping up to be even more epic.
It has been an eye-opener to get the chance to direct some great and unusual corporate films that had the scope and vision for a more cinematic approach to storytelling, with sweeping aerials and a dedicated score to lift it from the usually dry and save fare that a lot agencies still churn out for their clients.
Here's to always finding new ways to turn good stories into epic adventures!
All The Wild Horses has scored a great international film finance partner with Xantara Film Capital to rep the project. The global film finance company will also help us with legal admin through raising finishing funds for this feature film.
Film finance is changing rapidly at the moment. Equity crowd funding currently being legalized in many markets on the one hand giving easier access to potential investors, but the global expansion of Netflix on the other hand causing a virtual dropping out of international pre-sales deals. With All The Wild Horses, as well as Magic Boys and every other project I've worked on in the past, part of the production finance was raised by "pre-selling" it to international markets for broadcasting and theatrical rights. With Netflix now present all over North America and rapidly expanding across Europe, pre-sales is about to drop out as effective sales will have to be done with Netflix directly.
That is what's exciting about the film industry — it never stays still and if you drop the ball for a moment you'll really have to go searching for where it's going next.
The new trailer for All The Wild Horses is now up. And it rocks! We are still in the edit after two extensive shoots in the wilds of Mongolia, but we are forging on. We are now looking at a early- to mid-2015 release, with the film scheduled to go to the markets in Berlin, Cannes and a provisional premiere pencilled in at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) in late May 2015.
So please let's all take a deep breath and remember, so that we don't repeat history. Or maybe, in a huff of small-minded temporary madness, wish we would and could. Or feel too sorry for ourselves for some or other unhappiness that life has dealt us and blame it on the other ones, across the street. It's easy to forget. It's easy to ignore there's the potential to inflict incredible suffering in most of us, by choice, by apathy, by ignorance, or worse still, by willful ignorance.
And the only weapon that actually works long-term is education. Which ironically enough is something that has always been one of the most important cornerstones of Jewish culture, even enshrined in the Talmud.
Historically, Jews have often been more educated than the population of the countries they’d made their home in. Opinions vary as to why that is, but as they tended to be confined to urban areas, by choice or often not, skilled occupations and home ownership were a logical result of that. The Holocaust ripped dark holes into societies not only by killing off a whole minority, but also by exterminating ideas and a skilled and educated workforce. As a result, there are still areas, notably in former Russian Jewish communities, which are clearly worse off now, to this day.
And of course, as another inescapable cornerstone of human existence, education and property ownership seems to attract more suspicion, jealousy and criticism, especially when it’s part of a community that seems exclusive and segregated. I found myself listening to a BBC segment on Aleppo this morning and it made me think that Aleppo is known to have been one of the earliest permanent settlements in the world, and it used to be home to the oldest Jewish community in the Middle East, with the oldest synagogue, and even more importantly, the oldest form of a bound manuscript of the Hebrew Bible, known as the Aleppo Bible or Codex. It had remained in Syria for over 500 years, and during the Holocaust was hidden in the Aleppo synagogue. In 1947 when tensions rose throughout the Middle East due to the UN decision to establish Israel, rioters burned down the ancient synagogue and these oldest-known scriptures disappeared. More than a decade later the Codex that had been hidden by someone affiliated to the synagogue at the time was smuggled into Israel. Sadly though, big parts of it were irretrievably lost. Look at the picture of Aleppo emerging now, and it looks virtually like Dresden circa 1945. Only skeletons of buildings, rubble and dust.
So what’s my point? Just — let’s remember! And let’s not forget. Let’s not only not forget, but let’s remind people. I know it sounds preachy, probably boring and long time ago-ish. It’s not. It’s happening all over the shop, all of the time. Perpetrated mostly by architects of terror that use and manipulate their people to do their dirty work. People that have either forgotten, or never had the chance to learn about the Holocaust blueprint in the first place. Who don’t know what it feels like to be a cog in a big and murderous machine. Education is the key.
Holocaust Remembrance Day may not be a time to open cans of worms, but it does strike me as sad yet apt that even Israel, a country with one of the most educated populations in the world, is not beyond fallible when it comes to making (un)educated choices.
Following a trip to North America we've had some interesting new developments not only for The Safe Word, but also for The Apple, Herman Rosenblat's tragic true story of a lie. It's really too early to say much more but here's hoping it'll pan out.
This sign on Williamsburg Bridge struck me as so apt. Even though these two projects couldn't be more different if they tried, both The Apple and The Safe Word are nontheless set at least partially in Jewish communities in that awesome part of NYC, so I'll take that as a sign. Try and judge me.
There's been a lot of interest for my TV series The Safe Word. I've been working on this for the last couple of years, so in the last few weeks I had to put everything on hold to write the pilot script and finalize the concept and extensive series bible for this new true story concept.
We are currently talking to networks in the US and Canada, let's see what happens.
Editing of All The Wild Horses has been very slow going, due to the sheer amount of footage and the painstakingly careful weaving together of the different stories.
It will still be a while until this baby is completed. Stand by for further news.
Well, that happened.
1000 kilometers on 30 different horses in 8 days. 12 hours in the saddle every day at a trot or a gallop, filming most of the time. 5 hours of usable footage, 4 kilos of lost body weight, and 1 very happy (and very exhausted) camper. I did collapse after crossing the finish line though and didn't surface for about 18 hours. My subject Monde Kanyana and I stayed together most of the time, until I fell seriously ill and had to take an afternoon off.
I had to ride hell for leather for two days on my own to catch up with him again. Those two days, staying with nomad families, helping to herd their horses and livestock and live with them, I will never forget. It always goes to show, life is at its most memorable when you're way out of your comfort zone. And the hospitality of the people is simply breathtaking. I was still on antibiotics due to what we dubbed Mongol Belly so I felt 'safe' eating unidentifiable lumps of something or other handed to me in the dimly flickering light of the dung burner, washed down with Chenggis vodka and airag (fermented mare's milk – the national drink of Mongolia).
The race went down without any serious incident for the two of us — not so for some of the other competitors. We chose our horses carefully and managed to stay on, not quite sure how. We rode through deserts, swamps, mountains, wolf and bear country. We saw foals that had been attacked the night before. The nomads we encountered had never seen a black person before, let alone someone who could ride with the best of them – so a lot of group photos were taken. Mongolians are world-reknowned for their horsemanship and will judge you by the way you can deal with their wild horses. If you can't, then you're in trouble. Well, Monde can.
As his reputation started to precede us, he was often asked to look at a particularly unridable horse as we pulled into a horse station. This was as much a way of testing him as it was out of curiosity to see how the Black Man would do it. At the penultimate station he was asked to see what he could do with this 2-year–old gelding that had never been ridden before, and that wouldn't let anyone ride it. Obviously he took the challenge and half an hour later he sat on that wild beauty, now tame as a little lamb. This unfortunately meant that we slipped two places as other competitors passed us.
When the zulu warrior at last barrelled down the final furlong I had a hard time keeping the camera steady, moved to tears and elation as I was. This race takes it out on you to be sure, and a lot of elemental emotions come boiling up and often catch you off-guard. Monde didn't win the race, but he did win the prize for best horsemanship, an accolade that was created especially for him.
So now it's back to the edit, to weave together all the storylines for our epic adventure film. Sit tight.
In the meantime, watch the trailer here. Repeatedly.
Having gone through a few months of post-production on my documentary All The Wild Horses, we realized we were still missing a story. And this year, this crucial story materialized.
Monde Kanyana (left in blue) from Kwazulu Natal in South Africa doesn't live a privileged life. In the small South African village where he grew up, he could not afford to attend school much. Instead he helped at home. He also helped a local farmer. This is where, as a boy, he fell in love with horses. And horses fell in love with him, and his incredible sixth sense for them. He became known in the wider region for his amazing talent. So this year, his whole community of towns people and horse owners clubbed together and paid for this trip of a lifetime. They are sending him to Mongolia to take part in the Mongol Derby, the longest horse race in the world. He has never been outside the country, or on a plane, let alone stayed in a hotel.
I will ride the whole race withn him and document his progress. It will be an interesting experience at the very least. Stand by for a report when I get back towards the end of August.