Prior to moving to Philadelphia, I made the acquaintance of Craig Johnston, my next door neighbor while I was living in New Jersey. Although I had moved to Philly, I had a client in Jersey, which meant I had to commute weekly back and forth. On one occasion while in Jersey, preparing to drive back to Philly, Craig and I decided to grab dinner and catch up.
At some point while living next door to each other, I mentioned to Craig that I worked in video and he mentioned to me that he was from South Africa. Both of these revelations came into play at our dinner. Now, I’ve known Craig for about eight years, but at our dinner, out of the blue, he preceded to tell me stories about his youth in South Africa during the era of apartheid that had my jaw hanging open. He told me about how all South African youth are obligated to serve some time in the military and he told me about some of the things he saw perpetrated on the black population in the townships. Of course, I was aware of the apartheid oppression, but Craig’s stories were detailed and specific, which made it all the more astonishing.
Then he told me about a radio station called Capital 604. He told me how, despite the overwhelming censorship of the South African government and the propaganda the government was disseminating over the SABC airwaves, Capital 604 was able to rise to cult status by broadcasting the truth, playing the music that was banned, telling the truth about the oppression of the black population and thereby playing a part in the groundswell that led to the demise of apartheid and the democratic election of Nelson Mandela, who listened to Capital 604 from his Robben island cell. Craig informed me that he had all the archival footage and contact info of many of the people who worked at Capital 604 (visit the Capital 604 Facebook page). He asked me if I thought that would make a good documentary. I said, “Hell, yes.”
That dinner took place not too long prior to the death of Mr. Mandela. From that time, Craig and I went back and forth on how to go about getting the idea started. And then we decided, despite the well-known adage that you never spend your own money, why not either fly to South Africa and get some interviews or fly one of the guys out here? Well, our schedules at the time dictated that we couldn’t fly to SA, as well as it being somewhat cost-prohibitive. Alternately, we decided to invite Mr. Anthony Duke, former Capital 604 program director out to Philadelphia; Craig paid for his flight, I paid for his hotel, Craig drove down to Philly from Jersey, I gathered up all my video equipment, set everything up in the hotel room and got an interview for the ages. Anthony was understandably jet lagged from his 20 hour flight to New York’s JFK International airport, then a four hour drive down to Philadelphia, but he gave us a great interview.
This trailer is just a sample of the story we hope to tell by way of a full-length documentary feature. It’s the story of a few men and women who wanted to be liberated from the censorship of the South African government, who felt that apartheid was wrong, and who realized that the general public had a right to know what was going on under their very noses. As we speak, Anthony Duke is visiting friends and acquaintances here in the U.S. who may be able to help get this off the ground. The trailer is rudimentary and much of the footage is borrowed. Again, it’s our hope we’ll raise the “capital” (no pun intended) which will allow us to acquire all the footage we need, hire the staff we need and move forward to launch this important story.
Please take a look, leave your feedback, your suggestions, your recommendations, your referrals. It is all greatly appreciated!