Thursday, 16 May 2013

Andrew St.Pierre White is leaving South Africa

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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
Andrew 
 

10 comments:

  1. It must have been a very difficult decision to make but we will welcome you back to the UK. If you have some time I'd love to introduce you to some friends of mine who do a lot of work preparing expedition vehicles over here.

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  2. So the decision is made. It's a big jump but your entire family will be better off there. Good luck with the journey north. I look forward to posts when you're able.

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  3. Hi Andrew,

    Sometimes life is like that and changes are needed.

    I wish you all the best for the future, keep those gems of 4x4 documentary work coming.

    Regards

    Nelson

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  4. you've got to do what's best for your family that a given. I look forward to seeing/hearing more from you hear in the u.s.

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  5. Andrew, it hurts to read that you let South African, I am a fan of your programs from Argentina, I am fond of 4x4 and I've traveled extensively throughout South America trying to do the same as you here in south america, just that I have no tv show, just about my own particular experience. In order to know that it hurts you the same problems that affect us, I would like to have the formula and transmit it to all, so that projects like yours go ahead, good luck is my wish from Argentina and I look forward to watching your shows.

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  6. Hi Andrew,

    At first I was speechless (keyboardless perhaps?), but then I settled with the idea that you have to do what is best for your family and yourself. I do hope you can continue to produce your outstanding series from your new home place, but that must be both enjoyable and financially rewarding. Do let me know if there is anything I can do from Brazil.

    You may wish to add to your list a Trans-Amazonian highway, i.e. a trip across the amazon area. You may find the very tracks used in the very first Camel Trophy back in 1980. Some sections of the highway are still in pretty bad shape. Just google "Transamazonica" for some pictures :)

    I wish a rewarding experience in your new home place for you and your family.

    Keep up the great work!

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  7. Having only recently found you, we have enjoyed your reports and what you have done, and hopefully you can continue with funding from some company in the UK.

    Driving from Burma now that sounds fun, we have been looking at adding it to our plans for early 2015......

    Good luck with your travels and future plans.



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  8. Hi, This is a good post, indeed a great job. You must have done good research for the work, i appreciate your efforts.. Looking for more updates from your side. Thanks
    Clarens info

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  9. your programs are interesting but FGS, please show us less of yourself and more on the area & country.

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