Submitted by Wayne de Lange
Defying Gravity with Olympian Khotso Mokoena
Olympic medallist Khotso Mokoena, South Africa’s long jump superstar from the Beijing Olympics 2008 is on the rise again hoping to snatch the gold in London, Silver Bullet Productions (SBP) had the opportunity to catch up with him before he heads of to what is arguably the world’s most prestigious sporting event. Mokoena earned a silver medal with his impressive 8.24 meter jump at the Beijing event, a herculean feat by anyone’s standards. SBP had the chance to document the athlete before he jumps back into the world stage.
The short film, a 3 minute snap shot profile piece of a South African national hero was shot in just under a day and a half, as to fit with his tight training and travel schedule. The time constraint meant a physically demanding shooting schedule for the pro-athlete but Mokoena,a consummate professional elegantly never missed a step.
The look and feel was a very important factor to this film, SBP wanted to capture the Olympian in convincing documentary realism while trying to illustrate the true beauty of his meticulous sport. Long jump is a highly technical and duteous sport where millimetre-like precision makes all the difference between failure and global stardom.
The challenge now was to be able to capture the nature of the sport while being true to the nature of the man. So two elements were needed, “the real versus the zone”, the real elements were segmented into scenes within the short film to capture and characterise Mokoena as a normal inhabitant of this earth.
“The zone” on the other hand is when he seems to be able to defy physics and become superhuman, able to take flight and break the bonds of gravity, a certifiable Olympic champion. These two themes have been separated by style, camera-work, content and colour, creating a film that is not only varied but also textured. Division was sought through the use of sound; ambient, studio recordings and stylised sounds have been used hopefully giving depth and real separation to the two themes.
In addition the cameras used on this venture were the remarkable ARRI Alexa and the Canon 5D Mark III, two very different cameras used very differently to characterize the separation. The eventual location was set at the Bellville Stadium, an interesting venue with just the right amount of track and field an athlete could wish for, or at least someone filming an athlete.
The stadium lent itself to a gritty edgy feeling while still remaining a tangible space, elements SBP wanted to convey in the short documentary. The fundamentals of the piece were to build a story that captured this world-class athlete, but more than just any old profile piece, it needed to truly be engaging and taking a journey into the mind and spirit of someone who happens to be a mere iconic superhuman.