Friday 28 December 2012


The material year is almost over. Wow, what a blur! Next year is going to be even more intense - the writing is on the wall. We all better buckle up.
On this side, we are still all chipping away, trying to make inroads abroad with the Material movie. We will know by the end of Jan. where we stand. We just need a bit more luck now.

We have learnt so much these past 12 months, and also, we have confirmed so many lessons about story telling. If you are going to make a commercial movie then make it as commercial as possible. And, if you are going to make an art film then make it as arty as you can. The world has a commercial cinema industry and an art-house circuit, but there is nothing in-between. If you make, what they call in Los Angeles, a "tweener", the neither fish nor fowl film, then you will be stuck.

We all love a good story. But the story telling business is not an easy one at all.

The end.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 22 December 2012

The cost of doing business

As the year winds down, there is time for some reflection. This has been the most intense year. A material year (excuse the pun). It has been a year of learning and stretching. I have learnt so much about myself these past 12 months. The good and the bad. We never stop amazing ourselves. And we never stop finding new strength.

I read this compelling quote earlier this week and I can't get it out of my mind: "If you think it is expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur."

This is the point I would lot to touch on this fine festive evening. I have been working with and investing in a bunch of artists for many years now. And in the process we have all become friends. Often we push each other's buttons, and this gets things heated up. I believe all these artists I work with are professionals, but wow, do we sometimes all behave like amateurs (myself included).

This quote above is clear in its message, but I think there is more to it. If we become too close to the people we work with, sometimes things become unprofessional. And then, often, the only real solution is take a pause and hire an outsider, a professional, to try and get the mission done and dusted.

I guess this is the challenge that faces all of us, in all of our ventures. Doing business often results in people, leaders, being drained, and that is more expensive than money. Yes, the cost of business is something that is never a black and white thing.

Being a true professional is really a lot harder than it seems, especially when those people who you are leading start to forget how the world works.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Monday 17 December 2012

I wish upon a star ...

Some friends of mine have just launched a new lifestyle app. WishLab - you can download it from the App. Store - it is for all those who believe that thoughts are material (excuse the pun ... again). This app. is a personal and inspired way to help you work on your wishes, using thoughts, feelings, actions, photos, videos, reminders, etc.

Please help us spread the word ... we are trying something innovative and creative here, and the timing could not be better. When it comes to those New Year's resolutions and holiday wishes, then this is something you need to help you on your journey. Check it out:

We hope you like it - thank you for your support!
Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Friday 14 December 2012

Ho ho ho

This has been one intense and hectic year. It is time for some festive cheer. I had to share this :

First Christmas Joke

Three men died on Christmas Eve and were met by Saint Peter at the pearly gates.

'In honour of this holy season' Saint Peter said, 'You must each possess something that symbolizes Christmas to get into heaven.'

The Englishman fumbled through his pockets and pulled out a lighter. He flicked it on. 'It's a candle', he said. 'You may pass through the pearly gates' Saint Peter said. 

The Scotsman reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. He shook them and said, 'They're bells.' Saint Peter said 'You may pass through the pearly gates'.

The Irishman started searching desperately through his pockets and finally pulled out a pair of women's panties. St. Peter looked at the man with a raised eyebrow and asked, 'And just what do those symbolize?' The paddy replied, 'These are Carols.' 

And so the Christmas season begins ...

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 8 December 2012


The world is full of words and not so big on passion. People say they have passion but it is more like curiosity. Of course, this is just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Last week in the newspaper I read the following letter that was printed. Here's what it said :

Just a comment on the ridiculous use of the word "passion" these days. For this Sunday Times pin-up girl, she was described as having a wide range of passions. A passion is what Vincent van Gogh had, at which he worked all day, every day and which probably killed him. So how to cope with a wide range? Another word which is stupidly used is "humble". People strive all their time to achieve a goal and when they reach it they are "humbled".

This struck a chord with me - a big one. Passion is something you eat, drink and sleep. It means you are driven, and focused. Sure you can like many things, or, say, many people, but true passion is really a singular thing. True passion is closely linked to obsession.

I know passionate people, and they are like a laser beam. And then I know people that have interests, and they never finish what they start.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 2 December 2012

How the world works, part 42

Respect is rare in this new world. Yes, we all know the word, but very few, in my view, actually understand the real meaning of respect. It is something I have been saying ever since I can remember: so few people actually know how the world works. 

I try treat everyone with respect, and while I don’t ask for anything in return, I do expect them to demonstrate basic courtesy. Ignoring someone, for example, is simply not cool. Especially when that person is someone you thought you could trust. Perhaps this is the thing: trust and respect should go hand in hand, but for some reason, they don't. I mean, you can trust someone not to steal from you or mislead you, but you can't trust them to be respectful. Well, most often. That is my experience.

The thing about treating everyone around you with respect, as your equal, is that too often people get overly familiar with you, and they start to get comfortable in your space. This is not on in my view. People who understand how the world works never do this.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Let’s make a deal

I sat next to an interesting young guy on a flight to India recently. He is an asset manager. We got onto a conversation about the money business and he said this about the micro-lending industry, "I am not saying that don't do some good, but they do more harm than good."

I told him my view on stoke brokers and asset managers, and he didn't disagree, but he did say that his work can be important, and in the humblest way. I do believe that protecting one's assets is necessary, but what I don't understand are smug asset managers and stock brokers who act like what they do is the ultimate thing in the world. The way most of them go on and on one would think that if they were not there then the world would not function.

We need all kinds to make the world go round. But more importantly, we need the building blocks. The fundamentals. Without the assets to manage these guys would have no deals to make. And the last time I checked there was no university degree or course called deal making.

The get-rich-quick mentality in the world just seems to be increasing. People want to make deals, and get bucks. I am not sure what this means. I do know that the money industry used to be the domain of older men. And now, we see more and more younger people, who know nothing about nothing, tell you how the world works. I liked the young guy who I met recently. He told me he listens to his mother. I meet many "money people" and I call tell you, they generally don't listen to anyone.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Incredible India

Craig Freimond and I are in Goa this week for the IFFI event. This is the biggest film festival in India, and the list of world talent here is impressive. Let's hope our magical little movie stands out.

Our first screening is tomorrow ... bring it on.

I have been to India once before, and I remember it being a big, chaotic machine. It is busier and more hectic than I remember. A real attack on the senses. Craig looks overwhelmed.

What a journey!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 18 November 2012

What is a producer ... ?

A producer, in the most obvious sense, needs to produce. In the case of a business, a result. A positive result.

So what then is a film producer? The movie business is a business, and like any other business, it is about making and selling products/services. A film producer makes a product and sells a product. In the non-studio world of independent film producing, a film producer is a serious entrepreneur. A film producer should not to be confused with a production manager - that is someone who runs a production.

A successful entrepreneur has to produce a good product, and he/she has to produce a good result. In the case of the film business, the product, or movie, has to be good and it has to be sold. Producing only the product is not entrepreneurial - it is actually irresponsible. Ask an alleged producer if they are entrepreneurs and then ask them about their track record of taking a product to market. We are not in Hollywood here - we are not part of the studio system. We need to sell the products we make. That is the bottom line. Making a film without any regards for distribution leaves you in a highly vulnerable situation. Of course, if you do have a distribution deal concluded and the film has been "pre-sold", then there is still no guarantee of success, but at least you have a chance. You are always vulnerable in the business of the arts, but to make art, without having a distribution scenario in place before you make the product, is very very risky.

Let's look at an example in another industry. If you bake 10,000 cakes and go to Pick 'n Pay and ask them to distribute them, ie, you ask them for shelf space, well, they are probably not going to be interested. Because, for a start, they don't know you. You will most likely be stuck with the cakes and they are gonna go off and you are take proper strain. But, if you go to Pick 'n Pay and say that you want to bake 10,000 cakes and you want them to distribute them, well, then if they say no, you don’t go and bake the cakes. Same with an indie film - if you can't find a distributor before you make the film then don't do it.

The key is to make, say, a dozen sample cakes and then see who bites (excuse the pun).

Los Angeles is 90% in development and 10% in actual film making/production. That is why most successful indie producers have a sleight of film projects, ie, lots of sample cakes on the go.

Movie producing is about making and selling a product. Just like the guy who bakes and sells cakes. Taking care of business first is critical. And if you do, then you are producing for real.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 11 November 2012

Dr. Riaad Moosa on CNN

This weekend I put on the TV and I watched the half hour programme on CNN called African Voices and I was stunned ... there was Riaad Moosa doing his thing. WOW !

This show is being broadcast all week. If you don't have CNN you can watch it online. Here are the links:

This is just surreal.

Riaad is going to fly !!!

Viva Material, viva !!!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker