Groundglass director triumphs with ‘Gift’ and ‘Mine Sniffing Rats’
South African production company, Groundglass, has announced that director Dan Mace has triumphed at this year’s prestigious Young Director Awards at Cannes Lions 2016.
Mace won a Silver Screen award in each of the Short Film and Changing the World Frame by Frame categories, and was the only African director to win an award across all categories.
Mace comments: “Seeing the quality of all the other directors’ films at the YDA this year was a big eye opener for me and has really given me the drive to keep diving deeper into my scripts and to put in that extra effort in the referencing and pre-production phase. Winning any award feels great and it really helps keep your confidence up out there amongst all the many good films and great content.”
A South African native, Mace was presented with the Silver Screen – Short Film award for ‘Gift’, an inspirational tale of a young South African boy who uses dance to conquer his fears in the face of truly unenviable circumstances. The short film flows through the daily life of the boy, as well as the people of his township, as he uses the negatives in his life to fuel a positive and poetic reaction.
Mace explains: “I was looking for a 10 - 11 year old boy that could dance the style of Pantsula and who understood the heritage of the dance movement. The producer of the film, Jackie Stone, found a great little dance academy in Delft where we held an audition and found our character Lwando. Initially I had not planned to do a talking heads film. I was going to use a trained actor to do the VO, but Lwando was just so natural and really spoke from his heart, so I decided to use his voice to drive the narrative.”
The film is carefully crafted with diegetic sounds which interlace with the poetic voiceover. Mace continues: “Sound was the trickiest but also the most important element of the film. I wanted to create a soundtrack from what was occurring in front of frame, using diegetic sound. We created a mock soundtrack with a bpm click track, then my sound designer and I replaced each instance of percussion and keys, as well as chord progressions, with a real life sound effect that made sense within the narrative. This made the shot listing process so much fun. It was like putting a puzzle together that had no image on it yet and then kind of drawing the image after hoping we had put each puzzle piece into place correctly. I loved working this way and would 100% like to use this technique in a longer format film in future.”
Known as ‘Dan the Director’, Mace also secured the Silver Screen - Changing the World Frame by Frame award for his film ‘Mine Sniffing Rats’, commissioned by CBS. Detailing the painstaking and dangerous process of uncovering and disarming land mines throughout Mozambique, the film follows the surprising story of how rats are helping the war-torn nation become a far safer place.
Mace comments: “It’s always challenging to film something so rich in culture and heritage, especially when it’s not your own. The team spent a lot of time researching to make sure that we covered every important aspect within the scripting and shot listing phase. By training the rats to detect the smell of explosives, the mine-clearing operation has become far more efficient and the rats themselves are challenging for the title of ‘man’s best friend’.”
Dan Mace is currently signed to Groundglass Productions in Cape Town.