Film sets in the US set his mind free
Meet “ have no fear ” Pierre, a down to earth, loving and kind spirit whose childhood memories piqued his interest in film. Thanks to his dad’s decision to take them on a family trip to USA back in the late 90’s he got a front seat to the silver screen’s behind the scenes. They were fortunate enough to visit film sets and watch shows. About 20 years later he´s now a qualified film – maker and videographer.
Where it all began
At age six, film opened up his imagination and his passion was subconsciously ignited thanks to his father’s decision to spend family time exploring other worlds outside of their immediate surroundings. They joined one of the group trips organized by their local community’s travel agencies and then off they went to America! It ended up being one of his most memorable trips as a child. Even as an adult he recalls vividly how the sets that they walked through looked so realistic as they had buildings, the famous yellow taxi cabs and the finer details such the lamp posts and street signs.
Had he not told me that their family album of America were mostly photos of film sets I would have believed that they were the real deal!
Pierre is the youngest of two men. He has always had a good relationship with his brother and his influence also played a part in what he shoots as a filmmaker. His nephew, Liam, has become one of his favourite subjects and he is not that camera shy. I think it also gives them time to bond and it allows Pierre to create memories for him when he is older one day. Pierre showed me one of the first clips that he made for one of the renowned restaurants in Franschhoek, while his brother was the general manager there. I could tell by the way this clip was captured that Pierre had a good eye and an even better ear.
Incremental steps of success
Pierre loves to take his time and does not take on too much which is an excellent characteristic for an aspiring filmmaker. Knowing your limits has its advantages. Many creatives are overzealous or lose focus when they commit to too many projects and their end products oftentimes end up sloppy, unfinished and not tied in together. Pierre’s ” Have no fear ” attitude shows that he does not fear challenges, nor taking his time, neither does he overextend his boundaries. He pushes his limits until he knows what he is capable of delivering.
Just like films set weren’t built overnight, shooting and editing a project does not happen overnight either. Both of us agree that creativity and imagination go hand in hand. My lack of visual experience was filled with Pierre’s keen eye so I was able to build proper storyboards for my spoken words. And as we worked together every week, more visuals started coming to me that was not possible before. I think our collaborative energy made that possible. Pierre also mentioned that our talks made him think about his professional goals and that he took my questions to heart so that he could apply them to himself the way he wished to do so.
Let’s get into the mind of this filmmaker who is now also part of the Klein – dorpie WENtaliteit movement. Here follows our interview with J.P ” Have no fear Pierre ” De Wet.
skylarglowsup: Where did your passion for film start?
“As a child I was always fond of visiting Mr Video or any video store because I was somewhat introverted. I would try to find a way to entertain myself and film was one of them. I had a large library of movies. From Lion King to my grandfather’s MNET movies recorded tapes. My collection varied from Rambo to Jaws to Nothing Hill. The catalyst that sparked my interest was when my parents took us to America and we visited the Universal Studio lot and got a chance to walk through actual movie sets. That subconsciously prepared me for the path that I would later take in life when I decided to study film after I graduated from high school.”
skylarglowsup: What is your definition of a winner and what makes you a wintalist?
” A winner is someone who strives to be the best at something. Someone who never gives up even if things never go as planned, they continue to push through. I consider myself a wintalist because I NEVER gave up on my dreams. I was always confident that the path that I chose was the right one for me and I became patient with this journey. I didn’t give up hope on the fact that I would one day be where I always dreamt of being. Especially after some people told me to let go and move on. I kept believing and used the time where nothing was going my way, as an opportunity to work on myself.“
skylarglowsup : How has film shaped the reality of the world as we know it today?
” It is a place where I could dream. It was an escape. Every film I watched created a new story in my mind. I was constantly creating new images in my mind and it took me to a place far from the real world around me. It somehow distorted my reality. It distracted me from what was happening in my life. As I grew up I began to experience certain events from older movies I watched. I could begin to relate to other people surrounding me. I think film, whether fantasy or non-fiction is an individual’s perspective of the human experience. These experiences have helped me to see the different realities and show me how truly connected we all are.”
skylarglowsup: Are there any stories that you would like to tell using film as a medium?
” I love the supernatural. We can be more than we believe. I always wonder what our limits are as humans and how far we can push ourselves. And what is beyond the realm of the unseen? These are the types of stories I would like to tell. Different experiences of different people.“
Working with Pierre has been very enriching, educational and informative. I have always wondered how films get storyboarded or how shots are planned and put together and now I get to have a backstage pass to that and I am also able to co-direct the visuals of my spoken words. This is not something that I had ever envisioned nor did I ever think that my words wanted to be heard and now seen, but it just goes to show that if you stay true to yourself, other like-minded people will somehow gravitate toward you and help you to bring your visions to life in different mediums as well.
Aunty Milly – an Afrikaans Spoken Word
Aunty Milly was filmed in Pniel because we wanted to celebrate her memory, incorporate our small-town heritage and honour her the way I know best. By showing her in her element which was education and her deep interest and commitment to her family, her career and her church. This was Pierre’s first project after years of not being in filmmaker- mode and he was a natural. He respected the process. He was stern in his directing and he was focused on the brief. He had the freedom to deviate and capture outside of the discussed concept as long as it was not taking away from the message that Aunty Milly needed to convey. His keen eye made it possible for a piece of my reality to become a permanent visual monument to a woman who taught me how to be my own person and Pierre’s style of directing and shooting shines through in the visuals. Take a look at some of the behind the scenes below.
skylarglowsup :How was your experience with actors and actresses?
” It was a strange transition. I was not used to the idea of telling others what to do. I was now directing and not just filming. This helped me to build up my confidence in communicating my ideas with other people. At the same time, I was getting their input. I believe film is based on teamwork. A director or writer may come up with the idea but he or she must be willing to get different opinions from his or her crew. Especially actors and actresses because they must embody the character that you created. Actors should be willing to add to the character and to flesh it out. It also made me aware of how vulnerable you are in front of the camera. I began to appreciate and respect the vocal and mental exercises they would do before shooting a scene.“
skylarglowsup :What are your professional goals?
” My goals are to own my own production company that help others who struggle to get the opportunity in the industry and build on their creative abilities. I plan on creating through the medium of film for the rest of my life to tackle every genre and hone my craft in movie making.”
skylarglowsup :What has your experience been like shooting the spoken words? Capturing the footage, planning and execution and on location?
” The experience of shooting the spoken word got me back into the same old routines as well as trying to learn new ways to plan on shooting a new project. Also, I had to change the way I approached communicating with that person, being you, because I was working with someone new. I was used to talking to a whole crew of people. With Aunty Milly it was more isolated. It ‘s a face to face set up with just one other person. I had to build a relationship with Skylar to understand what she wanted and to understand how we were going to work together. As a director, I had to discern how could I push my ideas and mesh her ideas together. The end results speak for themselves I think. “
skylarglowsup : How has the collaboration enriched your own skills, or changed and developed your abilities as a filmmaker and director?
” I think this project, I had less to work with. I didn’t have any equipment. In a sense, it was more difficult. It also allowed me to use my head and do a lot of research on how to shoot something. When I was studying at film school, we were given everything. When I did this project ( Aunty Milly ) I didn’t have anything. I made a dolly out of my nephew’s toy truck. I had to think outside of the box. That is where I grew. I think I like to shoot with less because it forces me to be more creative. When I look back at the footage that we shot. It’s professional, it’s clean and I tried my best and I was not relying on equipment, I was just relying on myself. How steady my hands were and how patient I was. I think a lot of things grew.”
“Hay Una Mujer 2021”- There is a woman
Pierre’s first foreign language project in collaboration with Skylar 143 Darrigan and SAL make-up artistry is also worth mentioning as he stepped out of his comfort zone, linguistically. I wrote Hay Una Mujer ( Spanish meaning there is a woman ) in 2019. That was my first Spanish unpublished spoken word that I wrote out of pure inspiration and wanting to practice my pronunciation. The words came out of nowhere and the feeling that I was left with was this is what a woman is. So this year I added to the original poem and Pierre was in charge of doing the translations. The theme for Hay Una Mujer 2021 was celebrating womanhood and all its phases and stages.
“ I become emotional as it resonated with me so much. The message is relatable to anyone who really listens. I loved working on this project because I only needed to add some effects and closed captions. I had fun because I learned some Spanish as well. This was a team effort that came about unexpectedly with limited time and no prior footage shot by me. So thanks to SAL make – up artistry’s footage, the whole theme came together in one.“
Thank you to Jean- Pierre for allowing us to explore the behind the scenes and mind of a filmmaker. The world is ready for what you wish to tell through your lens.
Take a look at the following video clips of what Pierre has accomplished so far.
Until next time, keep glowing up!
With love and light from Skylar