Adopt, Don’t Photoshop

So Elizabeth Olsen is talented as fuck and one of the most natural and understatedly beautiful actresses on the screen today. So why, oh why, would Empire Magazine even think they needed to photoshop her? It’s gobsmacking.

Three Billboards Makes America Great Again

“Three Billboards” is polished and impressive “small film” about a grieving mother and her escalating attempts to humiliate a small-town police chief into solving the murder of her teenage daughter. Frances McDormand plays the mom, Mildred Hayes, and the billboards in Ebbing are the site of her campaign. I enjoyed the film, especially Mildred’s rude fierceness. The movie’s also done incredibly well for itself – a small haul of Golden Globes and an Oscar Best Actress for McDormand herself, and Best Supporting Actor for Sam Rockwell playing a particularly racist and homophobic cop.

But, but, the movie’s not been without its detractors and indeed there’s been something of a backlash against the film. In particular, critics have objected to the casual care with which Rockwell’s character is treated given his evident vileness, as well as his shot of redemption at the end. As Wesley Morris suggests in the NYT “This Is Not America.”

The title and location of Three Billboards makes it seem like the movie is saying something grand about human nature in small-town America. But none of it rings true……“Three Billboards” is a cupcake rolled in glass. It all just feels off.

I think there’s stuff that could be said here about “it’s a fiction, not a documentary” and “it does not have to be about anything to be a great piece of entertainment”. But the more I thought about this overnight, the more I came up with this: Continue reading “Three Billboards Makes America Great Again”


In 2015, a quarter of the twenty top-performing live action films from were shot on location in Africa, including Mad Max Fury Road, which spent nearly US$20 million on location in Namibia, and The Avengers Age of Ultron which shot in Johannesburg.  International TV series such asHomeland and Black Sails also shot in South Africa and Sense8 shot in Nairobi. The continent also attracts hundreds of international TV commercials and stills shoots each year. However the opportunity exists to create an even more film-friendly environment continent-wide that will encourage even more productions to Africa, “growing the pie” of available work and raising living standards across the continent.


So how do we do that? What do foreign producers expect from their shooting destinations? How do we reach them to tell them what we have to offer? And how can African countries work together better to attract more feature films, television programmes, advertising commercials, stills photography, corporate and business-to-business video and digital media production to African locations?

Locations Africa (an initiative of Martin Cuff Consulting and Zesan Film and Events) has been awarded grant funding by the Department of Arts and Culture’s Mzansi Golden Economy programme to identify ways that improved coordination, networking and marketing of African locations and production services to international film, television and commercial shoots can increase the number of productions that are attracted to the African Continent. Further project goals include:

  • Increasing the economic investment into Africa, stimulating job creation, small business development and tourism / national brand promotion.
  • Making African locations more readily-available to international productions
  • Increasing the capacity of African governments and their agencies to support film sector development and drive marketing
  • Improve the coordination of African film industry bodies
  • Create better linkages between African companies to stimulate seamless cross-border production on the continent
  • Increase the number of suppliers able to provide quality services to the industry

Following a Southern African sector meeting at Durban Film Mart / Durban Film Festival in June, Martin Cuff and Azania Muendane next undertake a fact-finding and information-sharing trip to East Africa. In each locations we will be hosting three formal sessions with sector stakeholders. These include


Aimed specifically at Film Commissions, Film Institutes, Investment Promotion Agencies, Economic Development Initiatives and Tourism Organizations, this session addresses the multiple arguments for aggressive sector participation, including the growth of jobs, skills and tourism.


Aimed at filmmakers and producers, this session will look at the economic value of adapting existing skills to the facilitation and servicing of international productions, as well as addressing what international producers look at when selecting their filming locations, and how to reach them


The production and distribution of film content is in the middle of immense upheaval, simultaenously making is both easier AND harder to reach audiences and drive revenues. In this session we will look at some of the transmedia opportunities now available for filmmakers, that allow for the closer connection of content to viewer, and the better connection of filmmaker to earnings.

The travel schedule for these activities is currently as follows:




  • Monday 12th September: 10am @ Kenya Film Commission – Government Session 1
  • Tuesday 13th September: 10am @ Kenya Film Commission – Industry Sessions 2 & 3


  • Thursday 15th September: 10am @ Rwanda Development Board – Government Session 1
  • Friday 16th September: 10am @ Kwetu Film Institute – Industry Sessions 2 & 3


  • Monday 19th September: 2pm @ Ethiopia Tourism Organization- Government Session 1
  • Tuesday 20th September – to be confirmed.


This programme continues in West Africa in October 2016.

Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful

It’s no secret that I’ve become totally obsessed with Penny Dreadful. It’s literally startling television, sumptuously styled, brilliantly acted and superbly, viscerally marketed. I’ve also simply marvelled at the fantastic dialogue, expertly delivered.


  • “The glory of life surmounts the fear of death. Good Christian’s fear Hellfire, so to avoid it they are kind to their fellow man. Good pagans do not have this fear, so they can be who they are. Good or ill, as their nature dictates. We have no fear of God, so we are accountable to no one but each other. “
  • “There are things you can’t control. There are battles you lose. At the end of the day, the only thing we have is the people we trust.”
  • “No, pet, Show Business – All Bitches.”
  • “We are mortals all, extravagant in our weakness.”
  • “I don’t know what game you’re playing, my dear, but I so enjoy watching your scales catch the light.”
    (and that one’s for my former best friend)

It’s just such a fulfilling experience, I am not binge watching but teasing it out, savoring every last moment.


Talking Dead


The success of zombie spin-off Fear the Walking Dead has also boosted AMC’s inspired transmedia engagement chatshow/podcast, Talking Dead. Deadline reports that the episode which aired after the Season 1 finale delivered 2.9 million viewers, 1.8 million adults 18-49, and 2.0 million adults 25-54 in Live+3 ratings. No surprise then (but geeky little transmedia jumps for joy, nonetheless) that the companion show will be expanded into regular segments, broadcast after each episode, where the issues raised in the drama are discussed.



Big Game

“Big Game” is not a Hollywood movie; it’s equal parts ingenious contemporary scam and blast from the 1970s past, when every American hit movie spawned legions of low-budget European imitations… Shot in Germany with an English-speaking cast that includes Victor Garber as the vice president, Felicity Huffman as the CIA head and Jim Broadbent as a veteran anti-terrorist spook, “Big Game” bears a superficial resemblance to a Hollywood action-adventure spectacle, at maybe 10% of the cost….

“Delightfully ludicrous” Review at Salon.