“E M E R G E” ….This was my last project before lockdown, at the end my busiest Cape Town working season yet, I needed an escape from my commercial headspace, to stretch the creative legs.
The story within it evolved as the weeks of uncertainty ticked away.

A promise is a promise, my wife and I had not worked together for 12 years, I’d finally decided to create a unique shoot as part of the lead up to her 40th Birthday, the intention being to channel a little Peter Lindberg esq androgynous beauty, knowing how well it would suit her.
After years of intrigue driving past this eerie and soon to be demolished derelict site, my curiosity finally got the better of me, I knew it had to be shot there! My love of Dystopian escapism got the better of me, but as we went into production, the sense of anxiety for the looming lockdown took hold, I released this could be an opportunity to explore how we were feeling in that time.
It massively complicated my families last day in the Cape, with a 12 hour flight slog home looming the following morning, our daughter, kit and 3 months of life in tow…..but it was going to be worth it, I knew it.

Captured over an intense 8 hours on a scorching 40 degree windy day, I pulled in colleague DOP @nicoldippenaar, with a concept allowing me to direct in symbiosis with my Photography and engage Gerda’s camera presence.
It is very satisfying to produce visuals in both mediums, as this concept allows me to deliver work that feels like a continuation of my style, an important part of my developing role as a Director and Photographer combined. The final image pool also included frame grabs from the Red camera used by Nicol, seamlessly fitting together.
The indomitable Eric Gukelberger and the North South Productions team pulled last minute strings to gain access to the site, it did not disappoint.

Stylist Gregory Russill showed great initiative styling the androgynous futuristic look in a matter of days, with Artist Josie Martens’s talents earmarked from the beginning as the go-to choice for this project.

I used my editorial reportage Stills imagery to drive the film capture, I’d given Gerda a background role to play, as if she was an marooned “dictator”, constantly conversing her message to an unseen audience, falling on deaf ears in her isolation…….this gave me the imagery and intensity to develop a narrative.

Once back in the uk, I connected with a long time creative collaborator, producer Anders Lindberg in Sweden. As the lockdown began around Europe, we bounced ideas off each other and he connected me to a number of Stockholm Based creatives.
Copywriter @kimgoldenbooks used my Imagery to develop a short story, I’d urged for optimistic metaphors and Escapism, to sit alongside my own visual Dystopian world. The character she developed took form as an older self, recounting distant memories in flashbacks, voiced in lockdown by another connection, Swedish Actor Annika From Borg, who added further mystery to the youthful flashbacks and depth to the voice.
It was so cool to think she’d literally recorded that under a towel in her kitchen with a borrowed microphone, it was fun how it was all coming together!
From there I was able to edit my imagery to her story, to emphasise the emotions…. and kind of work the process back to front. Anders and myself had loads of fun making the soundscape with sounds from our gardens, the key sound throughout that drives the mechanical rhythm was from a recording I’d made previously of a windmill in the Karoo in South Africa, fun to bring that in.
Finally, Colourist @Alexdow33 came on board and added an other-worldly touch to the grading, allowing my stills and film to speak from the same page.

This project, although initiated before the world-wide lockdown, allowed us as collaborators to explore new areas of our skillsets and perhaps just illustrates how sympathetic minds were reacting during that period….in these lost months when our “normal” stopped, it was just fun to indulge and experiment and great for the sanity…we are locked down again now, perhaps it’s time to do it all again!

Directed and Edited by James Meakin
Featuring Gerda-Marie Mare @models1

Director of Photography Nicol Dippenaar @weare_creative

Copywriter – Kim Golden @kimgoldenbooks
Voiceover Artist: Annika From Borg

Stylist: @gregory_russill
Hair and Makeup:@josiemartens
Colourist: @Alexdow33

Produced in South Africa by North South Productions
in Association with NorthProd Sweden

ClientLIGHTBOXXDateJanuary 2020

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