Lahleni Lakes lifestyle shoots, Witbank

Posted: June 8, 2010 in Shoots in short

Hectic. Two days available, lots of rain forecast, and no confirmed models even while we were driving up to the site from Johannesburg airport! We arranged a model by phone while driving (thanks Debbie Joubert!), and when we arrived, we found that HEAPS of unconfirmed models HAD arrived, but without tellings us!

So there we were, doing crowd control rather than taking photographs. The job was to depict the lifestyle on the residential estate to be built around the lake outside Witbank. I did a video shoot here a few months back, so I knew the place intimately, but still, keeping an eye on those clouds building in the background, I realised that we had very little time to get it in the can.

Debbie on the docks

Fortunately, when panic sets in, I get calm and properly adrenalised so the shoot went off fine, obstacles notwithstanding.

Video shoot

The stills shoot came after an even more stressful video shoot of the same, using three sets of models over four days. We had to have the jetty built specially for the shoot, and on the morning of our arrival it had not even departed Pretoria for Witbank!

In the helicopter over the lake minutes before the close call

With the help of assistant Richard Nieft, who helped direct arriving models from the gate 4km away to wherever we were shooting on the vast estate, we raced the clouds every day to get sunny footage. After a long week this was in the can, but we still had no aerial footage, so we returned two months later and flew over the lake.

This almost turned into complete disaster – not only because my video camera stonked out as I got aboard the Bell helicopter (we initially thought the avionics had fried the TV circuit board), we nearly dropped the chopper in the water when the pilot flew his tail rotor backwards into his own main rotor wash, and the tail rotor got to literally within inches of touching the lake surface. I just heard “Oops” in my intercom cans – not the kind of thing you want to hear from a pilot!

The footage was nigh unusable, as the broken circuit board had altered the colours in a crazy fashion, almost psychedelic. But because it looked so surreal, we thought what the hell, let’s use it – so it went into the video as is. We edited the video a week later and showed it at the three-day launch event of Lahleni Lakes. Alan Barnard did the voice-over. View a trailer of it here:

Jaco Wolmarans, March 2008,


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