Ryan Frame, 26, is a graduate of the University of Cape Town living in Venice Beach, California. He studied to be a chartered accountant, completing his business science degree at UCT “and quitting after four hours in the corporate world to follow my true passion - film-making”.
Cape Argus News Editor Edwin Lombard asked him about the 81-minute documentary The Second Wave, that will debut at the Regal Theatre in Los Angeles.
How long did the preparation take to shoot this documentary?
We did eight weeks of pre-production in Cape Town, then seven days in LA filming with our characters, then 10 days in Oregon on site. So a total of about 14 shoot days.
How long did post-production take?
A year. There were millions of issues that came up. It was done between Cape Town and LA. Editing was done in Cape Town with Kiko Herrera, who edited the award-winning documentary The High Cost of Cheap Gas.
The sound was also done in Cape Town, with Michael Kelly working on it for four months, writing an original score as well as mixing and mastering the film.
The final colour was done in LA with Chromacolor, who do the colouring for several of Netflix’s shows, including American Vandal.
The communication across continents, combined with hardware failings, customs and the over 16 different cameras used made this process riddled with nightmares. It’s was a miracle we made it through.
The film’s acceptance into the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival was the push we needed, and we managed to submit the film a day before the deadline.
The solar eclipse was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many. What message were you trying to convey?
An eclipse is such a mystical cosmic phenomenon that one cannot help but wonder if this universe was by divine design. I mean, you have the sun which is 400 times further away from Earth than the moon, but the moon is also 400 times smaller than the sun, and so they appear to be the exact same size in the sky, so that we as conscious beings on Earth can bear witness to this intelligence and brilliance that is our universe.
Then when you have 50 000 people standing in alignment with the same intention and focus, it’s like focusing all that energy and intention and alignment into something we all want.
Which is to co-exist with our planet in a symbiotic relationship of giving back what we take and living sustainable lifestyles.
We want to co-exist with each other and feel safe as men and women and elderly and children.
We want to all feel like we belong, that we love, that we feel one another’s pain and grief and hope and hopelessness, so we can learn and grow, and make mistakes and learn from those.
We want to feel like there is something more to this human experience, we want to feel part of the divine.
The message of the film is that there is a movement happening all over the world, but that summer, on the West Coast of the USA, people gathered under this idea of a second wave. The first wave happened exactly 50 years prior during the “Summer of Love”, which set off a cultural shift we now know as the ’60s counterculture.
Right now, with what is happening politically in the US, people are being mobilised to take action against corruption and the absence of compassion.
You spoke about the Woodstock festival feel. Is that what you wanted to capture?
Yes. People were talking about this being a cultural phenomenon like Woodstock, and it was, and that’s exactly what I wanted to capture.
Now 18 months later people often find themselves in conversation about the eclipse and talk about being at the Oregon Eclipse Festival to see it, which makes me think that in time to come it will be seen as a similar cultural phenomenon. It’s funny, this year marks the 50th anniversary of Woodstock and its the year my film is released.
The Woodstock film itself is a must-watch. Martin Scorsese edited it.
Where do you want to take your career after the documentary?
I think the next project I work on will be a scripted project. I’m developing four shows with Anonymous Content (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Revenant, Outlaw King, Mr Robot, 13 Reasons Why.) Two movies and two TV series. I’m hoping at least one gets picked up as a movie or TV series.
What is still the ultimate story for you to tell?
I would love to tell what I consider one of the great South African stories that has a global appeal. If I can get my hands on a screenplay like Tstosi or Jerusalema, even Necktie Youth, I would make it a priority to produce it.
What would your message be for young South Africans who want to pursue a career in film-making?
The advice I would give is to decide whether or not you want to be a film-maker or work in the “film industry”.They are two very different things.
The latter is often really just working in advertising.
I am saying if you want to be a film-maker, an artist, a true storyteller, then you need to write. Write and write some more. Your first writing will be bad, but it will get better.
And then read, try to get your hands on what your contemporaries are writing, so you can read and see what they are doing in their technique, what works, what doesn’t work. You become a better writer by reading a lot.
When you have a good script, its about getting it in front of the right person, like a producer, and my advice here would be to harness your people skills, learn how to pitch, which means how to sell your idea to someone, and that comes from passion.
If you show you are passionate about a story, and you have the right story at the right time for a producer who wants to make it, then you have done all you need to do as a writer.
If you want to direct, my advice is try to watch directors working. This is tough if you’ve never been on a set or don’t have an “in” into the business.
So that’s why I say the best way into being a film-maker is to develop yourself as a writer first.
And how does a writer find good stories to write about? He or she needs to have an open mind, an open heart and unwavering confidence in himself or herself, and then the beauty is, the story comes to you.