• Sphe Mbuso

Ego, Loneliness, and Drinking Your Own Dishwater

We’ve all seen the lavish lives of Instagram forex traders that make us doubt our career path. Those of us who spend more time on Instagram than our doctors would recommend, forex traders seem like they’ve got life figured out, flaunting their expensive suits and even more expensive watches “timepieces”.

When I sat down with one for this interview, it was a guy in a plain tee, shorts, and slops. Not your average forex trader, CJ De Beer is a part-time artist with a full-time passion for film.

CJ is a recent film graduate who professes to love "dirty cinema", nothing pornographic but a style of filmmaking where the director pulls back the curtain and allows the viewer to see behind the camera. This, instead of, what CJ calls, the sterile and sanitised films audiences have become so used to seeing in mainstream theatres, creates a deeper connection with the audience and allows them to truly appreciate the director's process.

His appreciation for "dirty cinema" and the entire process has a strong influence on the way that he creates his films. "There is a big difference between the movie you plan for and the movie you end up having, and you must leave room for improvisation and for the fluidity of the people working together on a project," he says. This was his approach for the filming of Toast, which he says followed only the emotive beats of the script and focussed on evoking emotions in the audience.

Toast is about loneliness, love, and drinking your own dishwater,” he says with a straight face. CJ says they had tight time and budget constraints so he quickly had to learn to use what was available to him. He pragmatically says that the aesthetic is one that worked within the constraints that they had to work with, including the decision to not have any dialogue in the film because of the cost of sound mixing. "We weren't in any position to say we want German Expressionism,” he quips. Looking back, he says dialogue isn't really needed in a film as long as you can evoke emotion in the audience.

"I want people to have a feeling, and then ponder that feeling. That is the goal of the film."

Throughout our interview, CJ’s eyes dart across the room to Morné as if to check whether they still agree about their 2-year-old film. Morné Delport is not only the scriptwriter but he’s also the actor who plays the film’s main character. He tells me that he “kind of” does acting and a little bit of everything. I'm not sure if that includes Lord of the Rings cosplay.

While CJ appreciates the technical process behind filmmaking, Morné offers a more emotional perspective. “I’m trying to take the images in my head and project them somewhere because they’ll eat you up if you keep them in your head.” Expressing feelings through art is at the centre of Morné’s work and he says that he’d love to do it by writing, directing, and starring in his own feature film. He really does do a bit of everything.

About local films, he says South Africa has immense talent and countless incredible stories that the world needs to see, so all South Africans should play a part in supporting local filmmakers. As a film school graduate now facing the challenge of transitioning into the professional world of filmmaking, he says that he has moments when he feels one doesn’t have to study film in order to be a filmmaker.

He’s now more relaxed and talks me through his sexual relationship with the toaster in the film. Having coitus with a toaster sounds dangerous and quite frankly weird but he says he had no issues doing it. “What’s a little masturbation among friends?” CJ shouts out. The conversation went downhill from here.

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