Katlehong is one of the largest townships in South Africa and has played a key role in the history of the struggle against apartheid. The population is almost entirely made up of blacks, but strongly multiethnic: all the eleven SA’s official languages are spoken in the township.This urban area has been for many years a dormitory-town for workers employed in the Johannesburg’s factories.
Poverty is widespread, and there are still vast areas where houses are shacks. The unemployment rate is above 50%. Even higher peaks are reported among young people between 15-25 years. Staff riding, the local slang for train surfing, is a widespread phenomenon in SA.
The almost total majority of surfers are kids under 25. Amputations and death are really common. The knowledge of the socio-cultural background of this township people is crucial to understanding the phenomenon. Train is historically the conveyance which accompanied workers from the township to Johannesburg. The Prasa Metrorail, the local train company, is one of the foundations of South African society.
This connection between train and citizens remained very strong over time. Associated with economic stagnation, degradation and the logic of life on the road, led to the birth of train surfing as a social phenomenon. The spectacular and risky act of train surfing becomes the framework to tell the Katlehong’s young people social fabric.
This place has been the epicenter of the antiapartheid’s guerrillas, and on the eve of the twentieth anniversary of the facts that we all know, the situation of segregation has remained more or less unchanged in daily life.
In a context where violence, rampant poverty, abuse of alchool/drugs and infant birth/AIDS are the masters, the train surfing is configured as the search for a social redemption that will never come for the characters of this story.
a. What program was used to create the multimedia?
Staff Riding was edited by Andrea Bertolotti on Final Cut. After I came back from South Africa with the materials (photo,video,audio,archive) we started to understand what was the most useful way to combine this elements to tell the train surfing phenomenon, and after a little more than a month, we got the final edit.
b. How and why did you choose that sound/music?
The audio work was realized by Salvo Delle Femmine, a close friend of mine and a talented sound designer. Everything in the video came from field audio recording (a mix between camera and external high quality recording).
When most of the video editing was made, I gave a copy to Salvo, explaining what was the sensation and feeling I wanted to give to the final audience. In my opinion he made a great work, with a good balance between natural audio emphasization and sound mix/dilatation.
A good example can be the part when we see people praying in the train; in this case, we started from train recording, then we heard a sound dilatation that soon after we realized it was part of the praying. I do believe that sound designers are fundamental for the multimedia development and it’s a shame that this profession is not widespread as it should, nowadays.
c. Tell us about the editing process when you think of a multimedia.
It depends on single situations, but in my opinion the best thing to do is to work and dialogue with different kind of professional figures (and better if they do not belong to the journalism world).
In my workflow, I usually speak and develop ideas with the editor and people I trust before the shooting. When I come back with all the footage, the first thing to do is to see everything with the editor, understand what and if your storyboard is respected and how to take the best from the unexpected footage that inevitably a reporter records when is on the field. I do also really care about what will be the final audience and kind of website/social media the multimedia was made for.
“I took part to the first Slideluck Bologna event (but I wasn’t part of the slideshow) and I was amazed by the positive vibration of how new generation photojournalists and storytellers are facing the possibilities with the internet. I do strongly believe in professional network collaboration in our field, instead of the classic solitary photojournalist figure, and moreover I love the way pictures and multimedia give us the possibility to tell stories in new ways and to new audiences. I’m convinced that nowadays what we call “multimedia” is just a primitive way that photographers use to tell stories through the internet, but at the same time I’m convinced that this phase is part of a path that will really create new visual language in the future. I’m honoured and excited to be part of this cultural turmoil, by my little experience, also because no one can control it and I see the first Slideluck multimedia event in NYC as part of this process.”