Between finishing filming and editing what promises to be the definitive film on the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa, the award winning STROOP filmmakers, Bonné de Bod and Susan Scott have announced their 2017 STROOP calendar. SAPeople sat down with STROOP’s director to find out more about the calendar and of course when the film will be released!
SAPeople: The calendar looks great with images from the poaching crisis throughout without any being actually graphic; and it looks like each month is themed. Why did you feel you had to go to this effort to put a calendar out there?
Susan Scott: Yes, good question! Well, our film is publicly funded. And because of that, both Bonné and I feel all the time that the public needs to be part of the film’s progress every step of the way. Which is why we have such a strong social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where we connect with those that the film belongs to… the public.
Obviously when we’re filming a bust or an arrest with the rangers in Kruger or we’re with the state prosecutors in court, we can’t live tweet about that! The absolute last thing we want to do is jeopardise a case or an arrest.
But the calendars seemed like a great way to give back to the public… our partner on the printing, Burblepix really came to the party and they lowered the price dramatically so that we could get it out there for a really good price of R199 and two or more orders are couriered for free on all South African orders. You can’t beat that price and the quality is exceptional!
SAP: Totally. There are some spectacular images. Are they all from the film?
SS: Every image is from the filming of STROOP. And while we have filmed some absolutely heartbreaking scenes, I think the biggest thing that has surprised me while filming STROOP for the past two years has been the human element. Wow, we have some amazing people out there doing incredible things.
And to be able to document that and show that in a positive way has been a privilege. And I think we both felt that we had to put out a calendar where its owner through the year is reminded of the terrible plight of our rhinos, but not through graphic images of death, blood and horrendous pain but through seeing the work being done on the ground.
The vets are saving so many lives doing groundbreaking treatments and surgeries and that has to be seen, let alone what the rangers, state prosecutors, investigating officers, pilots, rhino owners, activists and so many others are doing.
So this is a calendar of hope.
SAP: When is the film going to be completed and why is it taking so long!?
SS: We are hoping for release mid-2017 and I cannot tell you how frustrating it has been feeling this huge pressure not only from everyone expecting so much from STROOP but of course we feel the pressure to get the film done because of the ongoing death of rhinos. We feel that, we really do…
But, there actually have been quite a few documentary films and countless in-depth news reports about the crisis and they largely go unnoticed. Why is that?
And a large majority of those working on the ground have told us that it is because a majority of them bounce in for a few days and aren’t able to grapple the huge dynamics of the issue. We certainly didn’t understand that.
I think back now to the first time SAPeople ran an article about STROOP and that was back in August 2014, when we thought we’d film for a few months and be able to document the crisis. Heck no!
We had no idea what we were getting into and if we’re battling to figure out the issue and get to the bottom of all the backstories, how can we expect the public who owns this film to understand these complexities if we don’t unpack it wholly for them.
As Bonné always says, “we have one chance to get this right, only one chance and everyone is expecting so much from this film… we have to get it right for the rhinos.”
So, a huge aspect of that is the cost. Obviously the longer it has taken us the more it has cost us. As you know, we have sold our houses, moved in with our mothers (!) and poured our investments into STROOP… we could not ask the public to believe in us if we didn’t do so first.
So an ongoing funding option for us has been pre-ordering digital downloads of the film which is a great idea because instead of buying the film after it is made, one buys the film BEFORE it is made, thereby helping the filmmakers make the film. And while that has been great, we really felt the calendars were a great way to give back and actually some members of the public gave us the idea by asking for some of the images from our social media posts from the field to be put in to a book or a calendar.
Also, it’s not often that those living outside of South Africa are able to order online and trust it will get to their loved ones back home, I know that very well from my ten years in the States… it was frustrating to be able to order easily overseas and just not even know if my family would get their gift from me.
So I hope this will be a great option for those living overseas. We worked hard to find a partner we could work with… Burblepix based in KZN who really came to the party as I said earlier regarding the price. Once the order is placed it takes about 5-6 working days to get each calendar printed, packaged and safely delivered by courier anywhere in SA. Plus of course we can deliver it internationally via DHL for those who want a piece of SA in their home!
Watch the Stroop trailer here.