MFA, cum laude
Director & Producer
BSc Marketing; BBA Film Minor
I am not prepared to mourn my coastline. There is an escalating and unrelenting push for oil and gas development along the east coast of South Africa. This section of coastline experienced its highest ever recording of whale strandings during and after a 2016 marine seismic survey looking for oil and gas reserves. This survey was granted an extension into the whale migration season.
Was there a connection between these events? The more research I did the more aware I became of the trauma associated with the chronic, ever-present sound of these surveys, the inefficacy of the mitigation for it in the ocean space and what happened to environmental regulatory protections around reconnaissance/seismic surveys in South Africa.
This environmental documentary is experimental in its use of a multiscreen format. My intension was to keep the marine environment uppermost in the viewer’s mind. It is also experimental in its play between a cinematic creative treatment and the more journalistic ‘talking heads’. Themes of emergence/ visibility, obfuscation and interference abound, both visually and aurally. This aesthetic of interruption works as a marker of an acute sense of existential unease.
My hope is that Becoming Visible puts a face on the experience of those below the surface during offshore seismic surveys, and establishes a truth away from the power and culture of impunity in oil corporates and government administration.
It is the politics of nature representations and the limits of visualising the nonhuman that drives the work of artist and filmmaker Janet Solomon. Solomon’s lifelong passion for the natural environment can be felt intensely in all her work that responds to our persistent role in its demise, or to the perilous state of various species.
Solomon is best known for her photographic and painting Green Screen series, comprising over 40 works, which travelled to museums around South Africa (2014 -2016).
Solomon developed an interest in film and documentary form as a means to investigate the politics of offshore oil and gas as South Africa faces Jacob Zuma’s push for a ‘blue economy’. Solomon directed and produced Becoming Visible, in which she foregrounds animal strandings as a way of thinking about the political impunity, the profit motive, and exaggerated scientific and quantitative approach in an age of ‘tough oil’ and heightened environmental risks.
Gary Thomas (Netherchord) is a diverse multi- instrumentalist and producer. After studying a BA Music at the University of Kwa- Zulu Natal, he has spent the last 12 years living in Cape Town performing live solo shows all over South Africa and Europe. His mixed influences and critically acclaimed skills have helped him to become one of the most diverse musical composers in South Africa today. As a producer he has scored for a range of film, documentary and television.
It's always a pleasure to compose and arrange music for something that not only has a thoughtful and serious tone, but also carries an important body of information relevant to our fragile world. Becoming Visible allowed me to blend two of my favourite things together: music and the ocean. I am grateful and proud to have been a part of the process to what I hope will influence some greater change in our seas.
Viki van den Barselaar-Smith has been involved with every aspect of the film journalism and documentaries from producing, directing, filming and editing. Recent highlights are editing, and at times co-producing, for Carte Blanche for the past 9 years, with a number of programmes having won journalism awards. She has edited award-winning documentaries for the United Nations, Snake City for National Geographic, and produced work for The Smithsonian.
Johan Prinsloo has been working as a specialist broadcast audio engineer for the past 13 years and has been involved in many international productions ranging from feature films, reality television shows, television adverts and National Geographic films.
I have been lucky enough to do work for people in England, Qatar, Australia, America and the UAE and even some local personalities like Athol Fugard. I possess a wide skill-set providing clients with anything from sound design, foley, film scoring and surround mixing. I consider myself an environmentalist and have been fortunate to have worked on a quite a number of nature films now. I am grateful for having been apart of this project and I hope it brings about positive change for our oceans.