Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Andrew White leaving SA part-2

I am scheduled to leave for the UK early August to enroll my girls in school by September. Work wise, in the UK I will be close to the large non-fiction TV networks and I have a much better chance of success in getting my shows financed. However, right now,  I'm relying on a miracle of the Internet age - Kickstarter.

In their own words, ‘It’s a funding platform for creative projects. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others. Since [the] launch on April 28, 2009, over $500 million has been pledged by more than 3 million people, funding more than 35,000 creative projects.’ The way I see it is that it is helping thousands of hugely talented people get projects completed that big corporates either scoff at, or put oversized restrictions on, that it stifles the people who create them. Try and pitch an idea to the big TV network. Getting the door ajar is incredibly difficult, even if the idea is earth-orbit-altering, but with Kickstarter, if your project is really good, the viewers will decide, instead of grey-skulled management and accountants in big firms. Kickstarter is brilliant in every way, and perfect for our plans. If the fans of the shows love them as much as I hear they do, then they alone will be the ones to enjoy them. On Kickstarter, there are US and UK TV shows that have ditched their previous broadcaster’s huge contracts in favour of broadcasting their shows only on the Internet. Here, their audience can view when they want, never be bombarded by commercials, and even get to see things that the broadcaster would never dream of running. The fans actually become part of the inner circle; get what they want and not what they don’t, and get a T-shirt and a mug if it’s their thing. And the price for this luxury is no more than the price of a DVD, or a TV subscription. The way we are being entertained is changing so rapidly; traditional TV channels are being moved from lounge-based TV to the Internet. Some day soon, all TV will be internet based. There will be no need for a dish and the way TV shows are financed is changing with it. Hello Kickstarter in opening that door.

Thousands of creative projects are funding on Kickstarter at any given moment. Every project creator sets their project's funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project falls short, no one is charged. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.

ITSALONGWAY Trans-Africa is the name given to my Kickstarter project, and it will be launched mid June. We will have just 30 days to raise the funds. Fans who have already donated, and there are quite a lot of you, there is no need to donate again, just send out this message – to everyone you can think of. This may be worth much more.

What makes ITSALONGWAY special is that it is reality TV - no, I mean really real! Because isn’t adventure travel within the reach of ordinary men and women? Personally I am tired of the hype on TV right now. Is it really necessary to jump into a frozen lake and then eat a bug to prove you can enjoy the untamed wilderness?

I guess everyone has heard of Long Way Round, the crazy duo that rode motorbikes around the world – the long way. It was fantastic in every way and incredibly popular, and this is the kind of programs I like to make. As an iron-clad rule, I never set up anything and nothing is contrived. If it happens, you’ll see it. If it doesn’t, you won’t. But what does happen is real! This is where ITSALONGWAY and our slogan: Go Overland – Be Real – No Hype, comes in. We produce real Reality Adventure Travel programs without all that hype.

Keep a lookout on www.4xforum.com for the ITSALONGWAY project banner. It will ne announced here, so subscribe to this blog to get the news as it breaks. Don't miss it.

Best as always

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Andrew St.Pierre White is leaving South Africa

The recession has hit everyone I guess. Far and wide, old and poor, rich and young. For me, young and poor, I’ve relied on the participation of corporate sponsors for making my 4x4 adventure TV shows for years now. I’ve managed five 13-part series and I have been told, and don’t need reminding, that I have the best job in the world. When I am not sitting editing and writing my shows, (Which I love) I am out in wild places shooting them. (Which I love even more) But there is a snag. About a third of my time is less glamorous than it sounds. That’s the third of a year when am I in the dreaded GP with my begging bowl. Finding sponsors has never been easy. I am better known in the country now that I have ever been. I get stopped almost every day if I go out – in shopping malls, the petrol pumps, in a crowd and even once getting my hair cut. And yet getting the funding for each series gets tougher and tougher.

Last year was the turn of Four-Wheel Drive, the combination travel and technical 4x4 show. I do think that every time I do one of these series, my work gets better, and this is by far the best of all the Four-Wheel Drive series. This year it’s the turn of 4WD-Take A Deep Breath. I’m driving an especially built Land Cruiser across Africa to the UK, in 13 shows, while my brother-in-law rides his bicycle the same route. But the normal sponsorship channels have dried up altogether. One large sponsor who agreed earlier in the year, pulled out despite me securing national newspapers, magazine and radio to supplement the TV. They decided that TV wasn’t the best channel this year – so I was left to find other means to procure the funding. This all sounds like a sob story – but it isn’t. My fans have come to my rescue in a huge way. Of these, right now, the only corporate is Toyota. They made the most significant contribution and Alu-Cab, the company with whom I worked to design and build the vehicle, have come in too.

Albert Einstein said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So, like any sane man, things have changed and the cheese has moved. And so must I. Unfortunately the cheese has moved overseas.

So I will be leaving this wonderful country to find pastures new. There are a few reasons, and putting the more obvious ones aside: South Africa’s broadcast industry is unlike most others, in that I have to pay large sums for my shows to be flighted. Last year’s series, one third of the entire budget went to the broadcaster, one third went to production costs (why I can’t take a proper crew on my shoots) and one third goes to pay for my kid’s education and a roof over their heads.  I’m simply not making ends meet.

In the UK there are networks that will pay for the shows, and in 2005/6 my first two series were broadcast there, and I was paid – not a lot, but money did change hands, and in the right direction. The UK is also the centre of the world’s non-fiction film industry and with my experience there is lots of freelance work with networks like Discovery and Nat Geo, to mention just two.

I also decided to move to the UK because I was not about to give up on my drive across Africa. I was also not about to give up on my future plans; I want to follow in the tracks of the 1972 Trans-Americas Expedition from Alaska to Cape Horn - driving the very same Range Rovers that did it then. I want to go to Burma, find two pre-'70s Land Rovers, rebuild them and drive back to where they were built in Solihull, England. And what about the USA? I simply cannot do this based in South Africa. Will I miss South Africa? I don’t even want to think about how much. And as far as my South African followers are concerned, I will do everything to get my future shows broadcast here.

So what now? For my fans in South Africa and subscribers of 4xforum.com, this is the route I must take if I am to continue to provide the shows that are already so popular. But the route to funding with be different. One route is Kickstarter. (Google it)  In their own words, ‘It’s a funding platform for creative projects. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others.'

Keep a watch here. My Kickstarter project is about to be launched.

best as always