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Sharing The Future of Filmmaking

Popcorn Time’s Rick Bronkhorst spoke to Tertius Kapp, writer and one of Gaia’s (2021) producers, about the project share distribution they applied to the benefit of the film crew.

In 2023 Gaia won SAFTA awards for; best film, best directing, best cinematography and best soundtrack.

Enjoy the conversation between Rick and Tertius.


Q: Please tell me more about the share– distribution of Gaia?

A: We have always been close to our film crew, a kind of family. That has come together for years to all contribute creatively to the end product. Usually with 6-day weeks and 12-hour days. It’s just ‘n fact that many producers exploit the “crew”, and that upset us. On the other hand, we didn’t have enough budget, but we were convinced we could make a good movie. So we got the minimum finances with a “pre-sale”, ’ paid a reduced fee and involved the team as shareholders. Based on the time, labour and equipment they invest.

Q: Where did you get a crew willing to make such a deal?

A: Some of us have known each other from theatre-days, 10 years or more. For example, Jaco, Rocco, Mariechen, Pierre-Henri and myself. Most of the previously crew came together on the series Die Spreeus (2019).

Q: What market did you want to sell the movie to and how did you go about doing so?

A: We knew that with an “eco-horror” we are not going to target the typical Afrikaans audience. Yet, we also knew that a global niche audience existed for “arthouse horror”. Our argument was that you can make a movie at a good price and sell it overseas and still make a profit. It wasn’t quite that simple in the end. But we wanted to make idea, ideally, part of Gaia. In the end, we did a “pre-sale” to M–Net to cover basic costs. There are a lot of established costs when it comes to a budget: transport, accommodation, locations, catering… Even if you have the equipment and people willing to work for the minimum plus shares, you still have a reasonable amount of expenses to cover.

Q: How exactly did you go about distributing shares to crew members?

A: It was relatively simple. People who were part of the project from the beginning had the option of giving up half of their fees as an investment. So they were paid 50% (it was a little more complicated with equipment). It formed the total investment and your share was calculated by simple division. Of course, there were other rights distribution agreements with M-Net that had an impact, but at its simplest, our entire team then shared the film’s income according to their input.

Of course it was a major risk to the shareholders. Most South African films don’t really sell well abroad. Then we had an interesting extra obstacle called COVID-19. We were interrupted in the middle of production (which was quite ironic, as the film is actually about a disease).

In short, it was not clear whether the investment people made would recoup, and then it did pay out nicely in the end.

It feels pretty good. It feels nice to be able to reward the people who are creatively part of a project. Plus now and then another payment can be made to crew. Years after the film’s release.

In addition, I listened to a talk from Glen Bresler during the Silwerskermfees (Silver Screen Festival) where he explained that within certain circumstances, the return on investments in local films is not taxable. The clause has since been deleted, but we could still benefit from it, and of course it was also a bonus.

Q: Were there additional stories that emerged due to this deal?

A: Yes, it happened just after COVID-19 and many of the crew members seriously needed the funds. For several reasons. The dedication one gets from your crew is also immense due to their shared ownership in the production. 

This supports the idea that the South African Guild of Actors (SAGA) has been trying to legalize for years: that actors must receive payment if a movie is broadcast again on streamers and TV channels. Similar to when a song is played on radio or used anywhere else. The profits created are divided each time the music is played again.

Hopefully other film producers will see the value in such an approach: that the success (but also the risk) of a project can be shared with creative team.

Points to the Gaia team who have now become an example to the industry

Rick Bronkhorst

Rick Bronkhorst

Founder & Writer

Rick is a former commercial fixed-wing pilot who graduated with merit from City Varsity, earning a BA in Film & TV Production in 2021. He is the founder of, The Rainbow Mafia, and Skatte Doos, and co-founded Groovejet. With a strong passion for filmmaking, he aspires to produce streaming series and films for both the South African and international markets. Additional passions include psychology, reading, hiking, rowing, and good wine.



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