Part 3

Teenage Personality


What went on behind the scenes with the Couriers as they shot the most unusual film ever made in South Africa

Shakin' Up Africa, a musical comedy in English, which has just been completed at Lone Hill Studios on the outskirts of Johannesburg, is the most unusual film ever made in South Africa. It has no plot, no logical sequence of events and, in the words of it's director, Basil Mailer, 'it breaks every rule by which the average film maker is normally guided.'

Alan Blakely

Shakin' Up Africa stars the British musical group, the Couriers, plus an assortment of South African stars, including Dana Valery, Una Valli, The Settlers and many actors and actresses well known to the South African public. One of the many extraordinary things about the film is that it includes more than 20 musical numbers featuring the Couriers and other musical groups and artists. Basil Mailer says: ' Although making a film off the cuff , as it were, presented many problems, it was also, in many ways, rewarding. We were able to approach every sequence with a complete open mind and invent or adjust as we saw fit from one minute to the next. ...I was able to get over the difficulty of a thin story by inserting crazy, unrelated episodes into the film.'

Band The stars of the film are the Couriers, four long-haired young men who recently completed a successful tour of all the principal South African cities. They are specialists in the Mersey beat, the contemporary folk music which was originally popularised by The Beatles. The music is characterised by an accented beat, vocals which are screamed rather than sung, and electric guitars tuned and amplified to an excruciating pitch.

Several sequences of the film were shot at the Summit Club in Hillbrow on a Wednesday evening. The Couriers taught the 400 members present that the ...Shake was the only thing now and in this way lived up to their Shakin' up image.

click for bigger picture The Couriers, as a group, owe their existence to Johannesburg-born Frank Fenter. ...While in South Africa on a visit ... Fenter spoke to ...Ron Hooper, managing director of SA Film Studios, ... . The thought was fathered to the deed and within a matter of weeks the Couriers were on their way from Britain to star in in South Africa's first English language musical. With SA Film Studios behind them, the Couriers appear to be on the threshold of a luctrative career.

Shakin Up Africa has already acquired distribution rights in Europe and is likely to be given a full scale promotion in the United States. All that is needed to launch the Couriers on a grand scale is for one of the many numbers in the film to catch the public's imagination. South African audiences may make their own assessment of the film within the course of the next few months when it will be released throughout the Republic."


Tertius Louw, Summer 2002

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