The annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival has grown into a major international eent since its inception in 2000. Fortunately for those who were not able to make it down to Cape Town on the 3 and 4 April to enjoy the live performances, SABC3 will screen an edited version of the festival.
Here producer and director Di Rosen provides an account of what is involved in staging a television show of this magnitude.

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival, formerly known as the North Sea Jazz Festival, is now 10 years old. With more than 40 local and international artists performing over two days on five stages and attracting more than 32500 people, it is acknowledged as the biggest and most prestigious even on the African continenet.

Di Rosen was first approached by Bill Domingo and Rashid Lombard from events management company, espAfrica, about two weeks prior to the first festival. They walked her through the Good Hope centre and asked her to put the television side together.

“I was totally overwhelmed, and wanted to do it so badly, but knew that the perfectionist I am, would not be able to pull it together at such short notice, the way it should be. So I became involved from the following year.

We started off with two stages, the main stage, Kippies and Rosies, and then it grew to three stages adding the Bassline stage and finally to five stages- and Molelekwa (named after the jazz pianist Moses Taiwa Molelekwa who died in 2001)”

For the first few years Rosen weas responsible for co-ordinating and directing the television side, as well as  the post-production, knowing full well that she also had to train staff within espAfrika who would eventually be able to take over the television side. “It was a huge task to make sure that ALL the equipment needed one needed for the different stages was available, as well as ensuring there were sufficient crew.

We had to fly in loads of equipment and crew from Johannesburg for the event.

“We also had to have different outside broadcast (OB) vans that could accommodate the number of cameras needed for each stage as well as sound equipment, stage managers/floor managers and furthermore, organize the roving camera teams, to do behind-the- scenes of the entire festival, which is huge. Originally the festival covered the entire Good Hope Centre and when it outgrew the venue we took over the whole of the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Di Rosen - The Cape Town Jazz Festival Screen Africa article
ALL THAT JAZZ - DI ROSEN                                                              


Di Rosen - The Cape Town Jazz Festival Screen Africa article

We originally had two roving camera teams but eventually it grew to five teams.”

In addition there are the one-on-one interviews with every artist that performs at the festival. Rosen explains that the interviews are recorded over three days, normally during the day on the Thursday and the Friday, with the show opening happening that night, then during the day again on Saturday before the final night’s performance.

“Needless to say, I  was a walking zombie averaging two hours sleep per night. But the passion for the project and my passion for directing, especially music, kept me going.”

Rosen says the most stressful aspect is the fact there are no rehearsals before the show opens. “You see the artist performing for the first time on stage when you roll the cameras, Regardless of the artistes giving you a running order of their songs, they often do not stick to it, as they read the audience and perform accordingly.

“There have been occasions where they have gone on longer than planned (in the early days) and as a director, I would stress that I would run out of tape. I must also emphasise that a director who is used to working with shot cards and scripts will never cope in an environment like this. You need to feel the music and be able to direct off the cuff. It certainly helps if you have cameramen who have worked  with you before, as they know how your head works.

 

“Also , one can’t predict technically what is about to happen, and I have lost three cameras at one time while we were busy recording. You really havt to think on your feet about how to continue to capture what you need to with fewer cameras available. At the same time, I worry about how the directors are managing on the other stages as in previous years, all the footage from the relevant stages would bbe delivered to me for post production.”

Rosen is responsible for directing the main stage, Kippies, and says tthat she is relieved to that the product has always been well received. “I certainly try and do better each year, because as the saying goes, “you are only as good as your last job”

A further concern is coming in on budget. “You have to provide remuneration for each director, sound mixer, lighting designer and accommodate more cameras more lights etc. But nevertheless we have always managed to produce a good product.”

Despite the stress and the total exhaustion afterwards, Rosen loves being part of one of South Africa’s biggest live shows. “Having worked on the festival from almost birth, I care very deeply about the production, the people and the product. The Cape Town International jazz Festival has also been instrumental in bringing all cultures together in harmony.

“Many people worldwide travel to Cape Town to attend this festival and it has become a regular event for these people. In turn it has helped promote Cape Town and tourism within South Africa.

 

Di Rosen - The Cape Town Jazz Festival Screen Africa article

Di Rosen - The Cape Town Jazz Festival Screen Africa article

Di Rosen - The Cape Town Jazz Festival Screen Africa article

April 2009  -  SCREENAFRICA

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