Thursday 31 March 2011

Material number

Making a film and selling a film are two very different things. I maintain that making the film is the easier part. Selling a film is a long shot at best. A casino offers you better odds. But, someone is winning on the roulette wheel - yes, one out of 37 will win. And that's the film business.

You never know, maybe our Material number will come. There's only one way to find out - maybe we will hit it.

We are in our third week of the shoot, and tomorrow is our big "Zoo Lake" day on the schedule. We have been very anxious about this day because we are vulnerable in terms of the weather - yup, we are outdoors for the entire day with no contingency or back-up plan. We are in God's hands tomorrow, and, as my friend Tony Walt always reminds me "those are the best hands to be in". If we can get through this one then the power above is rooting for us. That is my take on things.

Perhaps we will all be material witnesses to a small miracle - we will know very soon ...

Making a movie is like giving birth I have been told; and you can't have a Caesar - there are no short cuts here. I read this the other day "If you only learn tricks of the trade, you don't learn the trade."

I better get to sleep early - tomorrow is a going to be intense!

Place your bets, place your bets!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 26 March 2011

Material magic

I remember a speech from George Merck II, the son of the founder of the Merck pharmaceutical giant. He made this speech in 1950, which was 80 years after the company had started: "We try never to forget that medicine is for the patient, it is not for profit. We try never to forget that our work here is to help people. The more we have remembered that the more the profits have followed." Quality before quantity. That is message of purpose.

It was Walt Disney who captured the never ending nature of purpose, in his last years, when he said: "Disneyland will never be complete as long as there is imagination in the world." We can apply this to all of our endeavors. As long as we have imagination we will never stop coming up with ways to make a difference in the world.

In 2004 the theater director and writer, Craig Freimond, went to see Riaad Moosa perform live on stage and this is when the Material journey began. Now, 7 years on, the film is being shot on location in and around Fordsburg. Riaad Moosa plays the lead in the film, and he is accompanied by Vincent Ebrahim from The Kumars at No. 42, who arrived last month from London, to play Riaad's father. The film "Material" celebrates the goodness of South Africa's spirit and of the legacy of a unique and historical part of this land, Fordsburg.

Material is not a Bollywood film, but a contemporary Indian story along the lines of Bend it Like Beckham. It has been written by Craig, with help from Riaad and many others, and the production is being facilitated by Tom Pictures. Vincent Ebrahim's participation in the film is a big endorsement and a testimony to an inspired and compelling screenplay. The Kumars was a hit BBC show and Vincent brings a wealth of experience and credibility to the Material film.

The story is as follows: Riaad Moosa plays the lead, Cassim Kaif, a young Muslim man who works in his father’s fabric shop in Fordsburg, Johannesburg. In the family tradition Cassim, as the only son, is expected to take over the family business from his father. Cassim is a respectful son and has certainly not considered any alternatives; this is his life and his destiny. Until one night, through a series of coincidences, he lands up doing an open mike session at a local comedy club. He discovers a hidden talent for comedy; a passion is sparked within him like nothing previously in his life. He is encouraged to carry on with the comedy, a path that brings him into conflict, not only with his father but other family members and some elements of his community. This is essentially the story of a family grappling with universal issues like, identity, responsibility and duty.

Material will be a heart-warming film that ultimately emphasises the importance of family. It will be a movie for the whole family, will contain no profanity, and should be able to be enjoyed by people of all ages both in South Africa and the rest of the world. Although the story focuses on a Muslim family the film will deal with issues that exist in every family in every country in the world.

The cast features an exciting line up talent, including Riaad Moosa, Vincent Ebrahim, Denise Newman, Joey Rasdien, Krijay Govender, Roysten Stoffels, Nic Rabinowitz, Osmond Ali, Afzal Khan, Rabin Harduth and Quanita Adams.

Riaad Moosa is a doctor who put his medicine practice aside to realize his purpose, and potential, of making people laugh. He believes that laughter is indeed the best medicine.

The shoot is all on track. There have been lots of challenges, but none of them, I am glad to say, are material. Have a look at and

Tomorrow marks day 12 of the shoot and after tomorrow we are half way there!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 19 March 2011

Ageless wit and observations

A friend of mine sent these too me - they are too good not to share:

"What this country needs are more unemployed politicians." - Edward Langley, Artist (1928 - 1995)

"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed." - Mark Twain

"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress... But then I repeat myself." - Mark Twain

"I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." - Winston Churchill

"A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw

"A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money." - G Gordon Liddy

"Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner." - James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

"Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries." - Douglas Casey

"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." - P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

"Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." - Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." - Ronald Reagan (1986)

"I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts." - Will Rogers

"If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free!" - P.J. O'Rourke

"In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other." - Voltaire (1764)

"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you!" - Pericles (430 B.C.)

"No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session." - Mark Twain

"Talk is cheap... except when Congress does it." - Unknown

"The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other." - Ronald Reagan

"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery." - Winston Churchill

"The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin." - Mark Twain

"The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools." - Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

"There is no distinctly Native American criminal class... save Congress." - Mark Twain

"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have." - Thomas Jefferson

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Monday 14 March 2011

Re-direct 'em !

I was in London recently for some work on the Material movie (which is now in production - day 1 of the shoot is about to begin and then we will be in full flight) and I noticed something about the Internet. The big brands are dropping their public web address and instead are using Facebook addresses. I noticed this on billboards, in the tubes, and just about everywhere I looked.

It occurred to me that there is a whole new generation of young people online who don't know this word "Internet", but they know Facebook. To them Facebook is the Internet, and the Internet is Facebook. And this is where the big brands have changed their strategy.

The brands have worked out that it is better to re-direct you within Facebook than to try to get you to go somewhere else. That is why they have dropped their web addresses, and instead, now are all plugging Facebook addresses. In Facebook they do punt their public web address, but first, they need to get you looking at them on the mother of all social networks. The masses are on Facebook and in Facebook, so rather just try point them your way in this captive space.

When it comes to the new movie we do have a public web site which I really dig : - perhaps I am just old fashioned (never thought that term would apply to the online world). But, we are also with the program, so, here is our Facebook address : - I am starting to like this too.

Wow, things continue to change at such a pace!

Tomorrow will be day 2 of the shoot - phew!

Bring it on!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Three blondes

A friend of mine sent this to me – it was too good not to share:

Three blondes were all applying for the last available position on the Texas Highway Patrol

The detective conducting the interview looked at the three of them and said, "So y'all want to be cops, huh?"

The blondes all nodded.

The detective got up, opened a file drawer, and pulled out a folder. Sitting back down, he opened it, pulled out a picture, and said, "To be a detective, you have to be able to detect ... You must be able to notice things such as distinguishing features and oddities like scars and so forth."

So saying, he stuck the photo in the face of the first blonde and withdrew it after about two seconds.

"Now," He said, "did you notice any distinguishing features about this man?"

The blonde immediately said, "Yes, I did. He has only one eye!"

The detective shook his head and said, "Of course he has only one eye in this picture! It's a profile of his face! You're dismissed!"

The first blonde hung her head and walked out of the office.

The detective then turned to the second blonde, stuck the photo in her face for two seconds, pulled it back, and said, "What about you? Notice anything unusual or outstanding about this man?"

"Yes! He only has one ear!"

The detective put his head in his hands and exclaimed, "Didn't you hear what I just told the other lady?

This is a profile of the man's face! Of course you can only see one ear!

You're excused too!"

The second blonde sheepishly walked out of the office.

The detective turned his attention to the third and last blonde and said, "This is probably a waste of time, but ..."

He flashed the photo in her face for a couple of seconds and withdrew it, saying, "All right, did you notice anything distinguishing or Unusual about this man?"

The blonde said, "I sure did. This man wears contact lenses.

"The detective frowned, took another look at the picture, and began looking at some of the papers in the folder.

He looked up at the blonde with a puzzled expression and said, "You're absolutely right!

His bio says he wears contacts!

How in the world could you tell that by looking at his picture?"

The blonde rolled her eyes and said, "Well, Hellooooooooooooo! With only One eye and one ear, he certainly can't wear glasses."

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Material March

This month is a big month for a key group of local artists. The Material movie is being shot from the 14th of March, for 4 intense weeks, in and around Fordsburg. Vincent Ebrahim (from The Kumars) arrives from London today and Riaad Moosa is busy with Craig Freimond, the writer/director, putting some final touches on the script. Then starts a week of rigorous rehearsals. And then it will be "Lights. Camera. Action!".

We have been in pre-production (planning) since the start of February. The 7 year journey kicked off in 2011 in its official capacity, and very soon it all boils down to the script, the actors, the direction, and if our planning has been good, well, then, the last thing we need is a bit of luck. The pre-production stage is the toughest - you have so many choices - locations, actors, crew, art direction, script changes etc. You have a 1000 choices in pre-production. In the shoot, during production, you have 100 choices, and in the edit you have 10 choices. The more choices, the more stress. Yes, pre-production has been proper stressful!

We are all praying and hoping and of course, trying and trying and trying, to make this work. What we are ultimately hoping for is that of art imitating life. We are all taking a view, and betting on Riaad's magic, and if Craig can produce more magic (I am betting he can) in his direction, then the world will see Riaad's unique gift on the big screen. On paper the character has magic - now we have to take what is on paper and make it come to life. If art imitates life and life imitates art then Craig will take the magic on paper and transform it into something fantastic on the screen, and then this film making team will have made the most wonderful of magic. This is all a big gamble though – but a smart one that we have faith in!

The Riaad Moosa movie, Material, is all about purpose - it is about a man who knows his purpose - he follows what is in his heart. I once read "Your talent is God's gift to you. How you use it is your gift to God. Do what you do best. If you are a runner, run; if you are a bell, ring." Riaad is a doctor who understood that laughter is the best medicine, and Craig is a story teller who is trying to get this sense of purpose illustrated in a film. I am the entrepreneur who is trying to make this a success. The odds are against us, but we are feeling lucky. Please God this film works!

To follow the movie online go to and also, check out the film's page on Facebook at

This story captures the spirit of Fordsburg and its heritage and goodness. And of course, the story ultimately is about celebrating the talent of Dr. Riaad Moosa. If all goes according to plan, and if the film shoot goes well, then a very special piece of work will result. Something that will make you laugh and cry. That is ultimately what we are all working so hard towards.

By Ronnie Apteker