20 Fast Facts About Us

Framegrab from "Zero for Zep"

Framegrab from “Zero for Zep”

+ We work out of the Waterfront Film Studios in Cape Town

+ We have the only restoration facility in the Southern Hemisphere

+ We are a label of Gravel Road Entertainment Group in South Africa. See our Google+ pages here and here

+ It takes about 4-6 weeks to restore a film

+ All our films are from the 70’s/80’s in South Africa

+ Lots of films were made during this time because the government created a film subsidy that promoted the production of film. There were two subsidies: one that was geared toward white films being produced for white audiences and there was one for black audiences. The idea behind that was to create entertainment for the majority of the population to keep their minds off of any form of political unrest

+ We acquire distribution rights by tracking down these films and tracking down the owners. We then approach the owners and buy over the rights of the film

+ We identify restoration projects once we scan the films. We make the call then on whether or not there’s a commercial life on the film

+ We are trying to track down the actors from the movies to show you where they are now

+ Our most popular films so far have been “Joe Bullet” and “Trompie

+ “Joe Bullet” has been coined South Africa’s first Blaxploitation film. It’s based off of the American Blaxploitation film “Shaft,” which was made in 1973. It was banned in South Africa when it came out in 1973. It has its own IMDB page

+ We’ve appeared on CNBC, SABC, DSTV for interviews. See all our videos here

+ We’re on Twitter here and Facebook here

+ We have our very first DVD coming out in stores across South Africa. It’s our restored version of “Trompie”. “Trompie” is so popular it has its own Facebook page here

+ We have just come back from France for the “Lumiere 2014” Film Festival where we showed our restored version of “Joe Bullet”. “Joe Bullet” is so popular it has its own Facebook page here

+ We appeared recently in Variety magazine

+ We’ve just joined Pinterest! Check out our awesome board here

+ We love YouTube. We have a channel here

+ The producer of a number of the films, Tonie van der Merwe, came with us to the Durban International Film Festival this year where he won an award

+ The first time these films were ever seen on TV was during the Mayibuye Film Festival on SABC1 earlier this year

Framegrab from "Fishy Stones" which showed in Johannesburg recently

Framegrab from “Fishy Stones” which showed in Johannesburg recently

Retro Afrika Article in “Variety” Magazine

Lumiere2014

Lumiere 2014

Reblogged from Variety.com, Benjamin Cowley discusses the ramp up of the classic film scene in South Africa

Gravel Road Entertainment Group CEO Benjamin Cowley said he was drawn to African films because the market for them, particularly ones from the late twentieth century, is on the rise. As the head of Gravel Road, which was founded in 2012 and has recently launched an initiative to acquire and restore African films, Cowley is paving a path to respond to market demand for the cultural films. It mainly focus on restoring South African films prior to the 1990s.

Gravel Road will make its first appearance at the Grand Lyon Lumière Film Festival this year. Their presence also makes the Capetown-based group the only company from Africa exhibiting at the Festival.

What led to this renaissance of films in South Africa being distributed?

In the ’70s and the ’80s there was just this spew of production because the government created a film subsidy that promoted the production of film. There were two subsidies: one that was geared toward white films being produced for white audiences and there was one for black audiences. The idea behind that was to create entertainment for the majority of the population to keep their minds off of any form of political unrest.

So, the whole black film industry came out of nowhere and kind of outshone what was happening in the white film industry. There was just a massive content being produced and we found that there were filmmakers at the time who were inspired about what was happening in Hollywood at the time.

How do you identify restoration projects?

We take anything really that was produced on the preservation aspect of the project. Once we scan the films then we make the call on whether or not there’s a commercial life on the film. But first and foremost we’re looking out for the preservation side.

How do you go about acquiring distribution rights for films?

That’s quite a tricky one. Because of the nature of the content, it being so old, we often are faced with the challenge of identifying or finding the original producers of the film. So we have a dedicated research team whose job it is to track down these films and once they track down the films then they got to track down the owners. We’re pretty aggressive with that.

How long does it take to restore films?

The fastest is typically two weeks. The average is four to six weeks. The extreme is sitting on eight weeks. “Joe Bullet” was the extreme and that actually, if I’m not mistaken, took 14 weeks.

What are some of the key projects you all have had?

“Joe Bullet” – it’s been coined South Africa’s first Blaxploitation film. It’s based off of the American Blaxploitation film “Shaft,” which was made in 1973. That’s kind of the project which we launched ourselves with.

Do you have a special competitive edge in the international market because of the technology you use or the price that they go for?

We have the only restoration facility in the Southern Hemisphere. The other competitive edge that we have is that we’re the only ones dealing in African content. Africa has a booming industry, especially the former French colonies.

But by our restoring all these old movies we’re restoring them at a faster pace than that at which new content is being produced and therefore the content is quite popular among African audiences.