19 Dec

Fast, furious – and female

first_imgFleur van Eeden and Ruan Burger falling five stories down a ventilation shaft in The Flood. Van Eeden on the set of Doomsday. Not much fun: Van Eeden being burned at the stake as a witch in The Devil’s Whore. (Images courtesy Fleur van Eeden) Taking on someone a lot bigger on the set of Doomsday. (Image: Greg King)Jennifer SternFighting on top of a moving train, battling huge futuristic armoured warriors, falling off buildings and getting burned at the stake – it’s all in a day’s work for South African stuntwoman Fleur van Eeden.When she left school in 2002, Van Eeden did the sensible thing and studied public relations. But she was far more interested in her part-time job as a river guide, taking people on scenic adventures on the Breede and Orange Rivers.Van Eeden grew up in the small country town of Swellendam, some 230 kilometres from Cape Town. There she was always outdoors and always active – mountain biking, paddling, horse riding or running. She was never good at sitting still. So there was no looking back when a fellow river guide introduced her to his brother, Franz Spilhaus – one of the partners in Pyranha Stunts.She sent him a CV and photos and, as luck would have it, she looked exactly like one of the actresses on The Triangle, a US miniseries being filmed in Cape Town. She was asked to double for her on a relatively simple stunt – being a passenger on an inflatable boat, but with some spectacular water sequences. That was a breeze so, on the same movie, she was asked if she’d like to do plane crash scene. Ever game, she said yes.“I didn’t know what to expect,” she says. “We were in this plane – a fake plane – and they tied a cable round me, and then there was someone on the outside attached to the same cable. He jumped, and I was pulled up to the top of the plane.”Her stillborn career in public relations forgotten, Van Eeden divided her time between river guiding and stunts, but the stunts soon took over.Six movies in a yearCape Town is the perfect place for a budding stuntwoman to be. The city has become South Africa’s version of Hollywood, with its varied and beautiful locations, favourable exchange rate and strong government support making it a favourite among international filmmakers.In the five years from 2003 to 2007 over 50 major films and TV series were shot in Cape Town, including the 2006 hit Blood Diamond and 2007’s Rendition and 10 000 BC. In 2009 the city will be the location of a major film starring Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman.“After The Triangle, I didn’t hear from Pyranha for quite a while,” says Van Eeden. “Then, suddenly, I did a commercial, and then did six movies in one year.”These were Primeval, The Flood, Rainbow Warriors, The Bird Can’t Fly, Bible Code (a German movie) and Drona (a Bollywood movie).By international standards, Van Eeden considers herself to have broken in to the field.“I had no training, so I was really lucky,” she says. “For example, in the UK, you can’t even get onto the books unless you have lots of qualifications.“So, once I started, I started to train. Because I’m a girl, I get lots of chances and training. Before a movie, say I look like the actress, they’ll take me for two months and train me.“Like Doomsday. I’m not a fighter, so they trained me to fight. “As a stunt double her job is to make the actress look good, but she doesn’t necessarily look that good while doing it.“Sometimes you look great, and other times you look awful. In Doomsday, they cut my hair short with these two long bits in the front, and dyed it black. So I walked around for five months with this weird hairstyle.“In Droma, the main actress was this beautiful Indian woman, so I wore this long black wig and they painted my face dark. I was in make-up every day for three weeks and, after a while, it didn’t come off. I looked like a raccoon.”Feel the fear, and do it anywayDroma also gave Van Eeden her scariest stunts so far.“We had to do fights on top of a train while it was moving.  They built these two towers on either side of the train, with cables running from one end to the other, and we were tied to the cables. There were about 12 of us fighting. I was the only woman.“The last day they wanted three stunt guys to fall off the train. A lot of the stuntmen had got hurt in the fighting, so they asked me if I wanted to do it.“I practiced it with the train static. I was really worried, not sure how my body would react when I did it at 45 kilometres and hour. That doesn’t sound fast, but it is. And then, when I jumped, I did it exactly as I had trained. It was very rewarding.”She had a good time working on Droma.“Working with Indian productions is the most fun things. The director will do your makeup if he has to. Everyone does everything. They’re not precious.”Another challenging stunt was the full body burn she did for The Devil’s Whore. In this British TV series she doubled for Andrea Riseborough, who played the unfortunate Angelica Fanshawe, who comes to a rather fiery end.The series is set in the 17th century, during the English Civil War. When the producers were criticised for choosing to shoot in South Africa, they countered that they had been unable to find suitably “old English” locations in England.Being burned at the stake is no mean feat, Van Eeden says.“It’s the one stunt you have to do. But if something went wrong, it would be major.”As it turned out, the preparation was worse than the burning.“They painted me,” she says. “They cover your whole body with gel – straight from a freezer – and then two layers of special clothing.“It’s a layer of water gel, then a layer of gel-impregnated clothing, then more gel, then an overall. And then your wardrobe on top of that.  With the special gel, you get so cold. And then suddenly this heat. They have to have a paramedic standing by in case you get hypothermia.“And then the actual burn, they explain you should preferably not breathe – it’s only 10 seconds. But if you have to, you must just take a tiny breath. If you gasp in air, you can burn your lungs.“First you practice it and then, on the day we did it five times. So I burned five times.“You know what’s weird – you really get into the whole thing. There I was tied to the stake. (I wasn’t really tied, of course.)  And everyone was shouting, ‘Burn the witch, burn the witch!’”Fantasy worldSometimes she will just get called on to do a single stunt for a movie but, often, as a stunt double, she’ll be involved in the same movie for months.One of these was Doomsday, a 2008 British science fiction film starring Bob Hoskins and Malcolm McDowell.“With Doomsday, we did two months of training and then five months of filming,” she says. “We finished that up in Scotland, which was amazing.”“You start getting involved in the character. You watch the actress, see how she moves, how she sits, and you try to be her.“You spend months and months living in this fantasy world. You don’t even know what’s going on in the real world.“And then, it’s a bit depressing when it all ends.”Reality checkThere is always the chance that something can go wrong, and Van Eeden has had a few minor mishaps.“I’ve got a scar on my stomach from flying glass,” she says.“And my neck got a bit scorched when I did the full body burn, but that’s not a big deal.“And in Primeval – this guy was holding me by the throat and burning my arm with a cigar. I had a flesh-coloured plaster on, but it slipped and he was actually burning me. But I couldn’t ruin the shot,” she says, showing a small scar on her arm. And she hurt her knee when a door fell on her in an explosion.“But it’s not usually serious – a couple of stitches. A lot of people break collar bones.“On Doomsday, one of the actors broke a stuntman’s nose. That’s the worse, when you have to fight against the actors, because they’re not trained.A recent injury – from wakeboarding this time, not stunt work – has made Van Eeden slow down a bit. Unable to keep still, she started a small DVD-based TV show called SWDTV – Swellendam TV.“It’s a monthly DVD that goes out to the community – mostly tourist stuff. Especially after my injury, I thought – what if I hurt myself again?”So she’s making sure she can still work even with an injury.“I’m getting more into editing.  And, a week ago, I did a winch job where I operated the winch, because of my foot. They’ve been very nice about it.“When I don’t do stunts I rig sometimes. I have an abseil supervisor’s ticket. It’s very technical.”Van Eeden’s back at work, doing a scuba diving scene, but she’s careful not to take on anything that may worsen her ankle injury. She seems pretty sure where she wants to go in the foreseeable future. Even though she is making sure she has something to fall back on, she can’t imagine not doing stunts. And she has no intention of heading for the bright lights. “People ask me why I don’t go overseas. But there’s so much work here. Here, I’m a big fish in a small pond. In Scotland we worked with 12 UK stunt people, and they do one movie in a year.“Here we do a lot more – and a lot of commercials. Maybe I’d go for a while, for experience, but I want to work in South Africa.“And carry on living in Swellendam. If I have two days off I go home. I’ve got two horses and I mountain bike. I love it there.”So it looks like the burgeoning South African film industry is going to have this restless young stuntwoman to call on for quite a while.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Mary Alexander at [email protected] articlesRough Aunties to the rescue 2010 opportunities for SA film Terry Pheto is worth it Global acclaim for SA film South Africa: a top film location Rebate boost for SA film More Oscar glory for SA Boost for SA film studio Useful linksFleur van EedenPyranha Stunts Cape Town Film Studios Cape Film Commissionlast_img read more

18 Dec

Public-private partnerships in national parks to boost tourism

first_imgSix million people visited our 19 national parks last year. This presented a huge opportunity for private investors, delegates were told at the inaugural South African National Parks Tourism Investment Summit held in Johannesburg this week.Opportunities in the Sanparks public-private partnership programme include accommodation, bottled water, wellness centres and adventure activities. (Image: South African Tourism, Flickr)Melissa JavanMore than 50 public-private partnership (PPP) opportunities are available for investors in South African National Parks.This emerged at the inaugural Sanparks Tourism Investment Summit in Johannesburg on Tuesday 4 April 2017. Sanparks, which falls under the Department Environmental Affairs, manages South Africa’s 19 national parks – from the massive Kruger Park in the east to the tiny Bontebok National Park in the west.The summit showcased a range of opportunities available to private investors in 10 of these public-owned parks. The opportunities include the development of tented camps, lodges and boutique hotels, activities such as helicopter and hot air balloon trips, zip-lining and hiking activities, and retail kiosks.Business and conservationIn 2016, over 10-million foreign tourists arrived in South Africa. According to Sanparks, 6-million people visited its parks in the past financial year. The country’s tourism sector accounts for some 730 000 jobs – 4.5% of total employment.In her keynote address at the summit, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said partnerships between the government and private sector could only increase tourism’s contribution to employment.The Sanparks summit, she said, would help public officials and private businesspeople working in the tourism sector to engage and network with each other.“The national parks don’t only play a conservation role,” she said. “We cannot just rely on the fiscus and say, please government, give us money.”There are currently 45 PPPs in operation in South Africa’s national parks. These give private partners access to state property for a certain period, allowing them to conduct business there.This model transfers risk to the private sector and allows Sanparks to focus on its core function: wildlife conservation. According to Molewa, seven national parks are currently being used for PPPs. She said there was a possibility to include all 19 parks in these partnerships, nationally.“In 2016, over 10 million tourist arrivals were recorded in #SouthAfrica, a 13% increase from 2015″ – Minister BEE Molewa#InvestSanparks— Sanparks (@Sanparks) April 4, 2017Through our PPP programme, R57 million per annum is spent on SMME and a total of 1946 direct jobs have been created.#InvestSanparks pic.twitter.com/2nZc7CnReV— Sanparks (@Sanparks) April 4, 2017There are 4 major categories of opportunities, these are:Accommodation, Restaurants, Retail and Activities#InvestSanparks— Sanparks (@Sanparks) April 4, 2017Return on investmentTokozile Xasa, South Africa’s new minister of tourism, said at the conference that many of today’s investors want more than just profit. “They want to make a contribution in the lives of people.”Tourism investment would help reduce poverty and inequality. “Tourism is the one sector all over the world that countries can look at to turn around the economy.”Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa and Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa at the inaugural Sanparks Tourism Investment Summit in Johannesburg. (Image: Melissa Javan)Xasa said those who did invest in South Africa’s tourism industry would get value. Her department provides skills training to entrepreneurs to ensure tourism businesses survive and thrive.She added that PPP opportunities would encourage local and international businesspeople to visit Sanparks’ attractions. “We are hoping to attract more business events to our parks. The businesspeople can then be exposed to what else South Africa has to offer.”Private party operators interested in any of these opportunities should register their interest by email [email protected] https://t.co/xLtbfsH5iw— Sanparks (@Sanparks) April 4, 2017Boosting domestic travelSisa Ntshona, head of South African Tourism, said that although international tourists were flocking to the country, domestic tourism was weak.If each South African could link their economic well-being and prosperity to tourism, he said, it would help grow the domestic sector. “We need to cultivate a travel culture into South Africans, especially the youth. We should look at how we can inform and educate our children to increase domestic travel.”Ntshona said the country needed more tour guides, especially those able to share the stories and experiences of historical sites. “We need more young people, but they need to be knowledgeable. We’ve got to make tourism everybody’s business.”It was also important for small businesses to build networks in the communities in which they operate, he said. “If you are not plugged in, you will not make it. Look at how you can become visible, and who the tourism operators are within the community.”Discussing opportunities and challenges in South African tourism at the Sanparks summit. From left: moderator and former talk show host John Robbie, Sisa Ntshona of South African Tourism, Hannelie du Toit of South African Tourism Services Association and Blacky Komani of Tourvest Holdings. (Image: Melissa Javan)Bringing black South Africans into tourismAn important issue raised at the summit was the lack of black people taking part in South Africa’s tourism sector.Hannelie du Toit of the South African Tourism Services Association said more local heroes were needed need to promote tourism. “We need our black entrepreneurs to be involved and say that they want to get involved in the tourism industry.”Rob Cilliers of Sun International said specific products should be created for specific markets. The Cape Town International Jazz Festival, for example, was well supported by the black market.“Put on the product to bring the people. We cater for the full community of South Africa.”Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa materiallast_img read more

17 Dec

Livestock haulers get waiver from ELDs regulation

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has granted drivers who haul livestock a 90-day waiver from a regulation that could have negative effects on animal well-being, a move hailed by the National Pork Producers Council and other livestock organizations.NPPC requested on behalf of the U.S. pork industry and other livestock sectors a waiver from a requirement that certain drivers install Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) on their trucks. The organization also asked for an exemption from the regulation, citing the incompatibility between transporting livestock and DOT’s Hours of Service rules. Those regulations limit truckers to 11 hours of driving daily, after 10 consecutive hours off duty, and restrict their on-duty time to 14 consecutive hours, which includes nondriving time.“The ELDs regulation poses some serious challenges for livestock haulers and the animals in their care,” said Ken Maschhoff, NPPC President, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “This waiver will give the department time to consider our request that truckers transporting hogs, cattle and other livestock be exempt from the ELDs mandate.“Drivers transporting livestock have a moral obligation to care for the animals they’re hauling.”The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act, enacted as part of the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, mandated that ELDs be installed by Dec. 18, 2017, in commercial motor vehicles involved in interstate commerce, when operated by drivers who are required to keep records of duty status. ELDs, which can cost from $200 to $1,000, record driving time, monitor engine hours, vehicle movement and speed, miles driven and location information.DOT recently issue an interpretation intended to address shortcomings in its Hours of Service rules, exempting from the regulations and from any distance-logging requirements truckers hauling livestock within a 150 air-mile radius of the location at which animals were loaded. The department soon is expected to publish guidance on the air-mile exemption.last_img read more