All photos by Wade Lambert.

We caught up with cinematographer, Damiane van Reenen, to find out more about shooting the Shangri-La music video for Die Heuwels Fantasties.

What have you been up to since we last spoke?

Since we last spoke a lot has happened, but I’d say the most exciting change has been the decision to start working for myself! 

Covid changed life as we know it! How has it impacted your life and what are you doing to cope and stay positive?

Yuhs, Covid, what a season it’s been! I’d say it’s impacted our lives, respectfully, in a very positive way. 

The lockdown afforded me time to consider how I got to where I was and how I wanted to continue going forward. My wife and I got to experience the opposite of what we were used to from how we spent our time and stayed healthy to standing still for long enough in one spot to notice “hey wassup cool neighbour”!

Staying positive for me always starts with looking outward. During this lockdown, I took more time to help my friends and other people around me. By simply helping people to get access to things they would otherwise not have, we could make some magic and keep people’s livelihoods intact and spirits up!

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How did you get involved in creating Shangri-La?

Pierre Greeff (member of Die Heuwels Fantasies) had a very nice treatment for this song, originally done by Maxime Thaysen, and asked if I’d be keen to work on the project and of course I said YES!

We’d love to hear the inspiration behind the scenes of Shangri-La

For me, the main inspiration for this video was to celebrate the youth!

Maxime had put together the original treatment, which meant that the idea already had a strong sense of direction. It was up to me to build a team that would help take it further and produce the end product. 

We aimed to celebrate Maxime’s ideas and make them our own so that we’d be able to make something true to us all… and so we proceeded to make sure the scenes had a message that’s relatable to the youth of today.

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What is the process of creating a music video?

Each music video has its own process. For this video, it was a lot more complicated and delicate: things like budget, talent, ideas and even time played a massive role. 

This was my first music video project of its kind and magnitude, which meant that my approach had to be different. In the past, I would take the song, listen to it and come up with a pitch that I believed would be a good visual fit for the song. Together with the artist, we’d end up with a solid concept, which you then make work with the available budget and resources. That is what I enjoy most – seeing how people come together to make something happen!

Shangri-La was different. I wanted to ensure that we had the right people for the right roles to bring the concept to life.

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What was it like working with Tresor and Die Heuwels Fantasties?

It was my first time working with Tresor and he really is a great guy! The first few meetings were intimidating, to be honest. He has achieved so much and really has a phenomenal story. With that comes a lot of credibility and a sense of “don’t mess this up, dude”. But once we started working together, I got to know a soft-hearted and kind human. I have a lot of respect for his hard and honest work! 

I’ve had the opportunity to work with Die Heuwels (as we call them) a few times before this project and, honestly, Pierre and the whole band is the real deal. These guys have so much passion for our country, its people and its story. I’d say these guys have played a massive role in how I see myself making a difference, working to build a future for my family and having fun along the way! The respect and admiration I have for the work they’ve put in and the success they’ve achieved up until this point is matchless to many.

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Do you think this is the start of creating more music videos?

Haha, great question! I’ve been telling my wife that the plan is not to build a career around making music videos at which she just chuckles, saying that “well, it seems like you’re going the opposite direction”.

Personally, I love doing music videos. They are the kinds of projects that allow you to be as expressive as you like and push you to experiment with little more than what’s usually needed to pull off miracles! They don’t always make you good cash, but the memories, experiences, friendships and products birthed from these projects are worth more than all the money. I believe in the journey and if music videos become my thing, heck I’m in!

What challenges did you face producing this music video?

Challenges come in unique shapes and sizes! There weren’t many hick-ups as we took a lot of time with the pre-production of the process. The things we found most challenging we couldn’t have predicted… like the Skyline’s alarm: when we left for the shoot at 04:00, the car’s immobiliser went off and we couldn’t stop it! Mad funny! Safe to say, a few of those neighbours I mentioned earlier are still not sure why we were trying to rob a Skyline early morning!

The other crazy one was the chair we had planted in the water, which was holding up just fine until it decided to plonk sideways as Tresor was standing on the chair wearing a very expensive styled outfit. Fortunately, Marguerite was right in front of Tresor at that moment to catch him… PRICELESS!!

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Did shooting this video broaden your perspective on filming?

Yes, 100%. Every time I film something, I learn more! But yes for sure, this project offered a whole lot of learning and perspective.

What gear did you use in the creation process?

The music video was filmed on a RED Komodo with a beautiful set of Vintage Cooke Panchro Prime lenses!

How did you use angles to stir emotion and create impact?

The camera work and lighting played a role in creating the desired emotion, but the cast made that most impact by making it easy for us to capture their emotion.

What is the most important life lesson you’ve learned?

Joh, that’s a great question. I’d say the biggest life lesson, amongst so many others, would be to honour people and give honour where honour is due!

What are your plans for the future?

My plans for the future are to keep telling stories. I hope to pursue and spend time on what it takes to become a real DOP (director of photography). In the process, I look forward to building impactful friendships, bridges that lead to a better future and telling stories that make an impact!

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Be sure to keep an eye out for more of Damiane van Reenen’s work by following his Facebook and Instagram pages.