Thursday, May 29, 2014

Things with no survival value give value to survival

We all promise our childhood friends that we will be friends forever; that we will not lose touch, that we will always be the way we were when we were young. Or the promises that lovers make to each other to always stand by one another, to always love each other and to never walk away.

We make these promises about friendships and relationships although we know very well that we may never make those promises a reality. Relationships have no survival value. We never know when they might suddenly come to an end; we never know when we will fall out with a best friend or grow tired of a partner.

But it’s this fact that friendships and relationships have no survival value, unless we work earnestly to give it a long life, that make them the things that add the most value to our survival as human beings.

We might part ways, we might stop picking up the phone to call someone we once could not imagine life without; but most often while we have them in our lives, we know what it means to lead a truly meaningful existence through the value they add our journey.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Richard Linklater’s Boyhood – A film like we’ve never seen before

Coming-of-age films form part of the daily bread of filmmaking, not only in Hollywood but in almost every movie industry around the world. Boyhood, to be released in June this year, however, takes the concept of a coming-of-age film to a whole new level that we have never seen done before.

Boyhood's creator Richard Linklater (known for the Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight trilogy all released 9 years apart) chose 7-year-old Ellar Coltrane as his protagonist, Mason, back in 2002. This groundbreaking film, which encompasses the very essence of what dedication to art is, captures the journey of a young boy growing up over the course of 12 years using the same actor.

This larger-than-life experiment saw the group of actors, including Ethan Hawke (one of Linklater’s staple actors) and Patricia Arquette, who play Mason's parents, reunite every summer for over a decade to document a moving account of a boy growing up, culminating with him leaving for college. 

But it is not the physical and emotional growth of the boy turning into a young man that the audience witnesses, it is also the aging of the other principle actors. Hawke and Arquette visibly change through the film, going through a journey themselves. Even Mason's sister, played by Linklater's daughter, Lorelei, also evolves into a young woman through the film.

This is the first time a story of this nature has been attempted to be told on screen. The renowned director's Before Sunrise trilogy grazed the surface of this idea, with the three films spanning almost 30 years, but not to the extent that Boyhood has gone. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January this year and was also widely critically acclaimed at the Berlin Film Festival in February. 

This is a once-in-a-lifetime cinematic event – and quite literally so. We’ve waited over 12 years so far for the filming to be completed and now we just have to wait a few months more for the film to be officially released. The trailer is out but of course it does no justice to the magnitude of the film. Linklater should be saluted – this is not only a daunting task that required extreme patience and perseverance, but also one that not every director will have the mettle to fulfil.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Kirsten Dunst for W Magazine by Sofia Coppola

There have only been a few Hollywood starlets who have managed to remain relatively normal and likeable in the presence of fame and fortune; and Kirsten Dunst is definitely one of those stars. At 31 years old now, she has spent over 25 years in the film industry and she is just as hot property now as when she first arrived on the scene debuting in an uncredited role in Woody Allen’s New York Stories in 1989. She also had several small roles in television in the 90s. Having worked with Oscar-winning director and writer, Sofia Coppola, way back in 1999, Kirsten was interviewed by Sofia for the May edition of W Magazine, which was also guest-edited by Sofia.

Sofia met Kirsten when she was only 16 years old and auditioning for a role in The Virgin Suicides, in which she was cast as the lead opposite Josh Hartnett, in Toronto. Kirsten was Sofia’s first leading lady – although she was just a girl.

Sofia grew up loving photography and fashion, which obviously stems from her passion and affinity for art and, more importantly, making good art in her own way. Sofia wanted this May issue of W Magazine to pay homage to the world that she grew up in as a child – a world of glamour that is still refined where we take time out to enjoy life and live well.

The interview by Sofia is revealing and shares quite a bit of insight into Kirsten’s career and how she got started in Hollywood, having been urged by her mother to start early in the business. Kirsten’s latest film, The Two Faces of January, was released earlier this year and Sofia’s last directorial work was The Bling Ring released in 2013. If there’s one thing that these two powerhouse women have in common, it’s their discernment for picking films that will add quality to their body of work.

Sofia says that she has filled the magazine with things she loves and admires, having grown up reading the magazine and admiring the strong female figures represented on its pages. With Kirsten’s images shot by regular W Magazine contributor, Juergen Teller, she looks every inch the essence of old-world Hollywood glamour and sophistication. While Sofia also looks the part of ace filmmaker and magazine editor in her shot for the magazine taken by Andrew Durham, another regular photographer for the magazine.

Sofia says that Kirsten is her favourite California blonde while Kirsten says that she looks up to Sofia’s fashion sense. The bond the two share is one of female camaraderie and understanding. Having both got their breaks in Hollywood so young, they know what it is like to spend most of their lives in the spotlight.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Not all those who wander are lost

There are those who don’t quite fit in. They stick out. They seem out of place in their surroundings. And maybe that’s the way they like it.

Sometimes it seems as if those people, who are so distinctly different from the rest, are lonely because of it. But they’re not.

Not everything is always as it seems, especially with people. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote that all that glitters isn’t gold and not all those who wander are lost.

Some find their solace in solitude, avoiding the rush of the world for the peace of creating their own world. Even in wandering their own roads, they never were and never will be lost.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Project Scouted photographer profile: Jerome Stoffels

Describing him as a photographer with a twist is an understatement. He’s a photographer who is interested in art, travelling, exploring and cattle farming. Yes, cattle farming. Jerome Stoffels is full of surprises and takes with him an easy smile and welcoming demeanour everywhere he goes, which is probably why his images of the people he shoots are always intimate and intriguing. This will be the third year that Jerome is back to a part of a Lee Folkard Photography Project and, through the way he has with people, especially those he shoots, this definitely won’t be the last. And now you can get to know more about this cool guy.

Lee Folkard Photography: Who is Jerome Stoffels?
Jerome: Hi, I’m Jerome Stoffels and I like taking and making images. Photography is like another language that I speak and I'm using it to say something!

LFP: What was your inspiration to begin photography and how did you start off in the business?
Jerome: Inspiration comes from everything around me – my family, colours, thoughts, emotions, dreams and travelling. I want people to relate to my work. For me, photography is about the stories – the lives I get to inhabit. And I attempt to capture these and then share them. Photography is like a relationship to me. I think it all started in Europe with the different architecture, cultures and spaces. I knew I would one day leave so I decided to document everything I saw with photography. I fell in love with the art and photographic galleries in London. I also joined underground photography clubs. But my first real break came when I was booked to shoot a Mercedes Benz Fashion show and it just continued from there.

LFP: How did you become involved in Project Scouted and what motivated you to be a part of it?
Jerome: This is actually my third time collaborating in Lee's Projects. Following the success of the last Projects, I jumped at the chance to be involved again. I also really enjoy hanging out and meeting new folks at the shoots and events. Project Scouted is probably the biggest one so far; which is an indication that everything has been organised in a very professional way. The calibre of the photographers involved and the ladies that have been scouted is like BOOM! I'm a massive fan!

LFP: What is ‘beauty’ to you?
Jerome: Beauty – Everyone is created differently. I embrace that uniqueness and celebrate it. Everyone should do that in their own way.

LFP: If you could photograph any person, alive or passed, who would it be and why?
Jerome: Wow, there are so many! But one that is at the top of my list right now is the legendary Bob Marley. He is an obsession to me, really! As much as he was a musician, he liberated people through his words. No matter what mood I am in, I can always listen to his music. I was actually doing some research on him recently and I found out he read palms when he was really young. His mother was overwhelmed with the strangers turning up at their home to have their palms read so she asked him to try something different. And that's when he started playing the guitar. A conversation and couple pics with him is all I'd ask for. But not forgetting a selfie with him too!

LFP: What would an advert advertising you, for any purpose, say?
Jerome: #TravelArtPeace

Having been born in Durban, grew up in the Eastern Cape and lived the UK, Jerome carries with him a wealth of stories and experiences; all of which he brings to his photography. His identity is made up of these places and he has been working to create images evoking the experiences of the stories, beauty, energies and emotions he has been witness to over the years. Be on the lookout on the Lee Folkard Photography Facebook page to see Jerome’s inspired images of the girls in the coming stages of Project Scouted

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Years of La Dolce Vita – An exhibition capturing the sweet life

1960s Rome was one of the most romantic and explosive periods in contemporary Italian cinema and the glamour of celebrity. The era has held a great allure and charisma even until today, decades later. An exhibition has brought this seductive age to the London Estorick Collection gallery running until the end of June.

The exhibition features some of the most beautiful and captivating images captured during the sixties of some of the most iconic and stunning movie stars and celebrities of the time. This was the time of the true Hollywood movie star during the Golden Age, where glamour and elegance ruled.

The images included in the exhibition were taken by an Italian press photographer, Marcello Geppetti, in the sixties. The 80 black and white photographs account icons like Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, Jane Mansfield and Audrey Hepburn recreating in the glamorous bars and restaurants lining Rome’s most elite and fashionable streets.

Geppetti is also said to have been a part of the inspiration for the character Paparazzo, a photographer veering through the streets on a scooter to catch a sight of the illustrious lives of the rich and famous, in Federico Fellini’s 1960 classic Italian film La Dolce Vita.

The exhibition, titled The Years of La Dolce Vita: The Birth of Celebrity Culture in Focus, also includes the infamous image of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor engaged in a passionate kiss while vacationing on a boat off the Italian coast. Their relationship mesmerised the world with their fiery and turbulent marriage after meeting on the sets of the movie, Cleopatra, in 1963.

The appeal of Geppetti’s images is that they capture the scintillating fast-life that gave rise to the obsession with celebrity that still prevails today – although Hollywood, unfortunately, might have lost some of that lustre.

Monday, May 12, 2014

#ProjectScouted – The First Phase

18 Windermere Road was abuzz with a bevy of beauties this Saturday, the 10th of May, as the first photoshoot for Lee Folkard Photography’s 2014 project, Project Scouted, took place at the uber trendy hotspot, Hashtag. The restaurant’s cool and casual setting provided the perfect atmosphere for the kick-off of Phase One in the project and although the morning was a chilly one, the energy and excitement was tangible. Hashtag also treated the girls and their parents to coffee while they waited for their spot in front of the cameras, with The-Wiz, Dj Alleyne Morton, on the decks keeping the awesome vibe.

The girls who fit the criteria that the scouts were on the lookout for were instructed to dress in a way that portrayed who they are. Some girls went for a more natural and subtle look, to suit their personalities, but some also went all out for dramatic and striking looks. There was an array of different styles and tastes on show for the morning with every girl working it in their own unique way.

The girls scouted ranged from high school pupils to university students and some even employed. Previous years’ projects seemed to serve as a reliable reference point for those parents who wanted to check out the brand. Parents, mostly mums, who arrived with their daughters weren’t at all sceptical about the shoot as the Lee Folkard Photography name has become an established one in Durban with a strong social, as well as print, media presence.

There were a few surprises on the day too. The Clown, who has become a regular feature in the Project photoshoots, made an appearance and was also roped in for countless pics. Durban-based photographer who will be a part of the Project at a later stage, Jerome Stoffels, also stopped by to take some of his famous behind-the-scenes iPhone pics along with Nilufer Yucel, who is also one of the scouts. Ryan Francis of Shoelaced by Pow, a loyal and much-loved sponsor involved in a Project for the second time, also came by.

The first two photographers who had the talent to be scouted in their own way to be a part of this first phase were Simphiwe Simz Makhwanazi and Jessica “Van.Go” Goeverden. Simphiwe took the “selfie” to a whole other level, with the first shot of each girl being taken in the “Selfie Zone” at Hashtag, capturing the reflection of each girl in a full-length mirror, while Jessica photographed the girls in classic head-and-shoulders shots with whatever pose – or facial expression – that displayed their personalities.

This first phase of judging is going to prove to be extremely difficult. Be on the lookout for the images from this awesome morning at Hashtag soon to be uploaded onto the Lee Folkard Photography Facebook page. Also check out Twitter and Instagram as Project Scouted is taking over social media in a big way. The project has officially now begun.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Project Scouted featured photographer profile: Jessica Van Goeverden (aka Jessica Van.Go)

She’s young and extremely enthusiastic about photography. Photography student, Jessica Van.Go, as she likes to be known, is one of the first two photographers who will be a part of the first phase of Lee Folkard Photography’s Project Scouted to be held at one of the latest Durban hotspots, Hashtag Restaurant on Windermere Road. Lee Folkard Photography had a brief Q&A session with this vibrant and eager photographer about her passion for photography and her involvement in Project Scouted.

Lee Folkard Photography: What was your inspiration to begin photography and how did you start in the business?
Jessica: I have always been the “arty” type, mostly interested in painting and drawing. But in 2010, I found a new interest in photography when I received my first Point and Shoot camera. Ever since, I have been in love with photography because I found I could express my artistic side through photography too. So in matric, I decided to turn my passion into a career, and during my first year studying photography at the Durban Institute of Photography, I created my own brand and am now trying to build my name.

LFP: How did you find out about Lee Folkard Photography?
Jessica: I found out about Lee Folkard Photography on Facebook. A lot of my friends had seen Lee's page and had liked it so the page's notifications were always popping up on my newsfeed.

LFP: How did you become involved in Project Scouted and what motivated you to be a part of it?
Jessica: A friend of mine who had entered the previous years’ projects had tagged me in a comment on a status about Project Scouted that asked for anyone who knew young photographers who might be interested in participating in this year's project and I immediately took the chance!

LFP: What do you think makes a good photo?
Jessica: To me, a good photo is made up of two elements; one is technique and the other is the message that the photo portrays. If the photo speaks, it is good.

LFP: What does photography mean to you?
Jessica: My grandfather has always loved photography and has always been a keen wildlife photographer in his spare time. When I found that I too had an eye for a good shot, I felt quite proud to say that I could one day be a well-known photographer. I would like to be known as an artist.

Be sure to look out for Jessica Van.Go's images from the girls who were chosen to be a part of the first stage of Project Scouted shot at Hashtag Restaurant!

Project Scouted featured photographer profile: Simphiwe Simz Mkhwanazi

A photographer who initially found his passion in fashion which turned into a love affair with taking photos, Simphiwe is one of the first two photographers who will be turning out images for the first stage of Project Scouted held at one of Durban's prime new locations, Hashtag Restaurant on Windermere Road. Lee Folkard Photography had a quick Q&A segment with this passionate and fashion-indulgent photographer about his beginnings in photography and his participation in Project Scouted.

Lee Folkard Photography: What was your inspiration to begin photography and how did you start in the business?
Simphiwe: Well, it actually all started with my love for fashion. My mother is a fashion designer, specializing in Bridal, so I fell in love with fashion that way. I'd began to download cool fashion pics for no particular reason. I just always loved it! When I got to varsity, my friends and I would take pics of each other with our phones when we thought we were dressed well. And then the more I followed fashion blogs and read magazines, the more eager I was to have pictures of that quality taken. So I saved up for a camera and then continued taking pictures of my friends and me. I guess that's how it all started. From then on, I just kept taking pictures of people which I still do today.

LFP: How did you find out about Lee Folkard Photography?
Simphiwe: I found about Lee through a friend, Jerome Stoffels (LFP: Who will also be a part of the project) at the Durban Fashion Fair. I looked up Lee's work and I loved it, so I started following his work on Facebook.

LFP: How did you become involved in Project Scouted and what motivated you to be a part of it?
Simphiwe: Lee and I met, as a recommendation from Jerome. I'm always eager to take photos of people, so the chances of me saying "no" to being a part of the project were very slim. I saw this project as an opportunity to meet new people. So here I am!

LFP: What do you think makes a good photo?
Simphiwe: I think when it comes to photography, there are no rules. It’s all based on how you see the photo. If you love what you see, then that's a great photo to you. A great photo for me is one that I look at and say "I'd print this photo and hang it on my wall".

LFP: What does photography mean to you?
Simphiwe: Photography for me is about more than just taking photos; it’s my passion, my love, and my joy. I sometimes find myself editing or just staring at one image for hours and I wouldn't have wanted to do anything else with that time. My mind is always buzzing with these cool images and my imagination can get very wild sometimes. I have found photography as a platform to express what my heart feels.

Be sure to keep an eye out for Simphiwe's pics of the pretty young ladies who were chosen to be a part of the first stage of Project Scouted shot on location at Hashtag Restaurant.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Trading childhood illusions for adult ones

When we're little, we can't wait to grow up. But little do we realize how quickly the growing up comes and how much change comes with it. Being a child, being young, has its illusions that are the necessities of innocence and naivety.

We pretend that we could grow up to be anything we want to be, we live in a world of fantasy and dreams. But when we grow up, we must leave those fantasies behind, to take up the realities of everyday life.

But that doesn't mean that being an adult comes without its illusions. We simply swap the illusions of childhood for those of adulthood.

When we're older; instead of living in a fantasy, we often begin to live in a lie, or even in denial. We tell ourselves simple lies; that we have all the time in the world to do what we want, that we're happy, that we're not lonely, that we aren’t wearing a mask. Or whatever else we might have come to camouflage.

See, there isn't much of a difference in being a child or an adult. We grow up, but we often still pretend.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The next Steve Jobs biopic

Leonardo DiCaprio has become a movie star god in the recent years, having delivered an array of blockbuster and brilliant performances in films like Django Unchained, The Great Gatsby and The Wolf of Wall Street. But, to the dismay of cinema-lovers everywhere, he is yet to win that coveted and much-deserved Academy Award for his work.

But the possibility of Leonardo playing Steve Jobs in the latest biopic about the Apple Inc. co-founder could very well put him in the running for his work finally being recognized. Although the film has not begun shooting yet, if he is in the cast, there’s no doubt Leonardo will turn out a mesmerizing performance as usual. In the last 13 months alone, he's been associated with nine films. 

The last film revolving around the life of Steve Jobs was released last year, titled Jobs, directed by Joshua Michael Stern and starring Ashton Kutcher and Dermot Mulroney. The film wasn’t a major success or even critically acclaimed. The latest biopic with Leonardo possibly (and hopefully) in the role of Jobs will be directed by ace-filmmaker Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) after he took over from David Fincher who reportedly wanted Christian Bale in the lead. Boyle also won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2009 for Slumdog Millionaire, which became a worldwide phenomenon.

Aaron Sorkin, who won the Oscar for Best Writing for an adapted screenplay for The Social Network, will be penning the script for the film, roughly entitled “Steve Jobs”, based on the Walter Isaacson biography of the same name. Sony acquired the rights to the biography following the Apple mogul’s death in 2011.

If Leonardo is cast in this role, it will be the first time in almost 14 years that he will be working with Boyle, after they collaborated on The Beach in 2000. A release date has not been announced for the film yet but we will definitely be waiting with baited breath, if Leonardo is cast, for another captivating performance. And it would be a mistake not to cast him, because it seems as if everything he touches turns to gold at the box office.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Gia Coppola – Success is in her name

For cinema lovers new talent, especially in the way of edgy directors, is hot and exciting news. The Coppola family name has become synonymous with groundbreaking artistic work in cinema and it certainly seems as if this momentous storytelling is in their blood.

Enter Gia Coppola – the granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola, the pioneer of this genius family. She is the daughter of Gian-Carlo Coppola, a film producer, the eldest child of Francis Ford Coppola, and also the older brother to Roman and Sofia. Roman Ford Coppola, Gia’s uncle, is an American film and music video director, who was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his 2012 film, Moonrise Kingdom.

The other well-known female in the Coppola family is Sofia Coppola, who has stunned Hollywood with her intuitive eye and mesmerizing filmmaking skills. She is a successful and acclaimed screenwriter, director, producer and actress. In 2003, she won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for her film Lost in Translation, starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, and she also became the third (and the first American) woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director.

And did you know that Academy Award-winning actor Nicolas Cage, also known as Nicolas Kim Coppola, is the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola and had changed his name to make his own way in the film business?

With a family like this, it would be hard not to follow in the footsteps of such accomplishment and trademark brilliance. Gia has now also captivated Hollywood with her debut film offering, Palo Alto. The film is an adaption of actor James Franco’s collection of short stories of the same title and premiered in the “Orizzonti” section of the 70th Venice International Film Festival, as well as the 38th Toronto International Film Festival and the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado. The film stars James Franco, Emma Roberts and Val Kilmer and tells the story of a group of menacing teens with a weakness for trouble.

This maiden work of Gia has been cited to have many similarities with Sofia’s film The Virgin Suicides for its technique and scope. Palo Alto has been picked up by Tribeca Films for distribution with a release date in May 2014. Whether or not the film fares well critically or at the box office, Gia definitely doesn’t have to worry about finding a place to fit in as the Coppola name unquestionably has a home in Hollywood already.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Is Google Plus overtaking Facebook?

In a word; probably.

But this certainly comes as no surprise. A lot of the social networking crazes die down with time, like MySpace and Digg did, with people losing interest in them as they run their course and fizzle out. The Google Plus and Facebook debate isn’t a new one, with experts having said that Facebook will run its course and be overtaken by Google Plus from about two years ago. And their prediction is slowly coming true.

Fewer and fewer people are signing up for Facebook and many of those who already have it have deactivated their accounts for various reasons. There was a time when Facebook was all the rage and it led without competition in the social network arena, with Twitter not even coming close to its popularity.

One of the major pros of Google Plus is its customizable news feed which allows you to select the news that you want to see – so you don’t have to see someone post a pre-workout selfie if you don’t want to. Since its launch in 2011, Google Plus has been through countless layout changes to arrive at what it is now. By choosing who you want in your circles, you are able to filter the content that you receive.

Facebook, however, is definitely not going to go out without a fight. Although its users have drastically declined over the past few years, its loyal fans don’t seem to desire any other site for sharing their lives with others. But when Facebook switched from having user Profiles to Timelines, many of its users lost their faith in the site.

It does basically come down to one’s own preferences though. Some think that Facebook is easy and simple to use and allows access to a huge user database. But others think that Google Plus is the better social medium, for its neater interface and simply because it is run by Google – which many consider to be less malevolent than Facebook in terms of privacy and security.

There are immeasurable comparisons between the two social sites. Experts are also now saying that Facebook could lose 80% of its users by 2017, which isn’t too far away. Facebook is losing is popularity with youngsters especially for its privacy risks and its tendency to evoke unwanted social drama. Many feel that it has become a bit of a burden to have. Google Plus was reported by Forbes to be trailing very closely to Facebook last year at number 2 of the most used social platforms, with YouTube at number 3. So only time will tell now as to whether Google Plus is really the next big thing in social networking.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Sometimes beauty takes time

Some things and some people are born beautiful. They are born being special and precious, and are set apart from others from the very beginning. But this is not always the case and nor is it the only beauty that exists.

Sometimes some things, and some people, take a little more time. They become beautiful through the processes and struggles of life and living. And it is perhaps these processes and struggles that make these things and these people all the more beautiful.

And this beauty is not just found in the way of appearance, but in a certain inexplicable quality that endears one from the very first meeting. This beauty is not the frivolous, temperamental, fleeting kind so often found in youth – but the almost-aged, experienced and wise beauty that comes with the ticking of the clock.

So often people stop to admire the loveliness and the mesmerising display of a butterfly. But almost never do we stop to appreciate the changes, the pain, and the effort that the butterfly has gone through to achieve that beauty. From making its way through a cocoon to surviving in an unforgiving world, that butterfly portrays the true beauty that we all ought to come to appreciate – beauty that comes from survival.