The Jameson Music Video Grant: Behind The Scenes
This month, director Carl Houston Mc Millan and his crew shot the music video for ‘Impepho’ in the heart of the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. Here’s an exclusive behind the scenes peek through the lens of talented young photographer Kgomotso Neto Tleane.
Carl is the winner of the 2017 Jameson Music Video Grant. For his entry he dreamt up a music video that is a visual exploration and celebration of Basotho shepherd culture in the highlands of Lesotho. His concept was inspired by the high-energy track titled ‘Impepho‘ (meaning incense), which features Morena Leraba and Mankind.
Shortly after hearing that he’d won Carl left to start pre-production in Semonkong, a rural village in the heart of the mountain kingdom. Assisted by Morena Leraba and a few other locals, he spent weeks there casting shepherds, horses and jockeys as extras, predicting the weather and scouting the most dramatic locations.
On Sunday 17 August his full crew arrived in Lesotho for the shoot, including AD PJ Makosholo, DOP Christian Denslow and both musicians. The team shot for three days straight in and around Semonkong. From sunrise on Day One to sunset on Day Three, they braved the elements to capture the most epic and unexpected shots of this insanely textured world.
Here’s an exclusive first look at the locations, cast, styling and filmmaking process:
Listen to ‘Impepho’ as you scroll:
DAY ONE: LOCATION ONE | ON AN ICY AIRSTRIP
On Day One of the Impepho Music Video shoot Carl and his crew shot in three locations. The first take was at sunrise on an old and icy airstrip near Semonkong, where they used a bakkie to track alongside local horses and jockeys to shoot a high-speed race.
“I have shot horses running before, but not racing horses runing at 45km/h alongside a moving vehicle. The horses we shot are the ones that regularly compete in local races, so tracking alongside them was a bit of a challenge.” – Director Carl Houston Mc Millan
DAY ONE: LOCATION TWO | INSIDE A LOCAL TAVERN
The second location of Day One was inside a dimly lit Chinese inspired tavern in the heart of the village. Here Mankind’s crew, styled in slick city gear, started a dance battle with Morena Leraba and his crew, who were wearing custom Basotho Shepherd blankets by Dripz Arts Design Studio.
DAY ONE: LOCATION THREE | ON A MOVING CAR
The third and final location of Day One was a dusty dirt road outside the village. Here, Carl and his crew shot Mankind performing his verse of ‘Impepho’ on the back of a bakkie as the sun set.
DAY TWO: LOCATION ONE | AT AN ABANDONED RACECOURSE
On Day Two they filmed deep in the blue mountains, where a cold front that was howling its way in promised snow in the coming days. The first take was at sunrise at an abandoned racecourse, its lines barely visible in the golden yet unforgiving landscape. Here they shot a traditional horse race, a re-enactment of a regular event that’s a big part of Basotho culture. The race gathered crowds of spectators, and even a trick pony. They placed bets, danced and cheered jovially.
DAY TWO: LOCATION TWO | AT A SHEPHERD’S POST
Later in the day at a rural Shepherd’s post, the crew filmed moving portraits of the Basotho shepherds in their outposts with their livestock and dogs. As the sun set they wrapped with a performance by Morena Leraba and Mankind on a peak.
“The landscape and weather can make Lesotho a challenging place to shoot, with the best locations often being difficult to scout and even harder to access by foot with equipment.” – DOP Christian Denslow
DAY THREE: LOCATION ONE | ON THE EDGE OF A CANYON
Before dawn on Day Three, the crew hiked into the barren mountain range overlooking the canyon that hosts the Maletsunyane Falls. There, a hut was burnt – an epic backdrop to Morena Leraba’s performance. Traditionally shepherds burn huts at the end of the season to show that they have migrated to another region.
“We wanted to capture the short 30 min window of dawn light, when the sky is a deep blue. We commissioned the building of two huts, in case one didn’t burn, or burnt too fast. Luckily the first hut went as planned and looked great!” – Director Carl Houston Mc Millan
DAY THREE: LOCATION TWO | IN GRASS FIELDS
At midday the crew head to picturesque grass fields to shoot Morena Leraba day dreaming, and performing with his crew of shepherds.
“It was my first time shooting anamorphic lenses in Lesotho. I’m not sure if Lesotho has been photographed with anamorphics before. It’s a landscape that has always deserved a true anamorphic aspect ratio in my opinion.” – DOP Christian Denslow
DAY THREE: LOCATION THREE | IN THE MAIN ROAD OF THE VILLAGE
Finally, as the sun set, we head back to the main road in the village of Semonkong with our cast of shepherds for detail shots.
“This might be the highest budget music video ever shot in Lesotho.” – AD PJ Makosholo
And… that’s a wrap! Stay tuned for the final ‘Impepho’ Music Video, to be released at the end of September 2017.
All photographs by the talented Kgomotso Neto Tleane.
More about the Jameson Music Video Grant, the winning director and the musicians here.