The history of "Jock of the Bushveld"
Jock of the Bushveld was one of the first true adventure stories to come out of Africa. The book was written by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick and was first published in 1907. It has never been out of print since and continues to sell many thousands of copies per year, even to the present day.
In the 1870s, gold was discovered in the eastern Bushveld region of South Africa, and many an adventurer flocked there in the hope of making a fortune. Among them was the young Percy Fitzpatrick, but he arrived too late to stake any claim as a prospector, and instead he took a series of jobs to pay his way - transport rider, storeman, digger's assistant - whatever it took to put bread on his table.
It was during this time that Fitzpatrick acquired the plucky Jock as a puppy but saving him from being drowned because he was the runt of the litter, and together they shared the many adventures that came their way in this dangerous but beautiful part of the world. Some years later, when Fitzpatrick had settled down and was raising a family, he would tell his children bedtime stories of his times in the Bushveld. His friend, the author Rudyard Kipling, urged him to write the stories down, and some years later they were duly published, soon to become one of Africa's great literary classics.
The animated 3D movie
In 1986 South African film-maker Duncan MacNeillie produced a live action movie of Jock of the Bushveld. With its dramatic landscapes and powerful music, the film broke all South African box office records, and Johnny Clegg's signature music track, Spirit of the Great Heart, was a huge commercial success in many European countries as well. (The DVD of the movie continues to sell strongly, almost a quarter of a century later).
But the mid 1980s was not an easy time to sell South African product internationally, and despite interest from major distributors, Jock's success as a movie was confined to its home country, South Africa. But in 2007, Duncan MacNeillie returned to the creative challenge set by the book, and chose to follow the animation route this time around.
Having raised the finance privately, Duncan assembled a team of some two dozen South African animation specialists, and production started in Johannesburg in early 2008. Soon thereafter the decision was made to follow the international trend to CGI stereoscopic 3D, and Jock will be one of the first movies from Southern Africa to adopt this technology.
The Film's Story:
The time is 1873 and the world has gone gold crazy. This is the time of the first gold rush in Africa and corruption and greed are rife. Hunting has become very popular and killing wild animals is a favourite pastime. This is the setting for Jock.
In the harsh wilderness of eastern South Africa a young puppy, the runt of the litter, Jock, is saved from drowning and certain death, and groomed into a fearless and faithful dog who goes on to become a folk legend for his bravery and loyalty to his master.
Jock meets Fitz, a young man, who after having no luck in finding gold becomes a transport rider. They spark an immediate friendship and it is this friendship that sees them through many adventures in the wild.
Inevitably Jock and Fitz find themselves knocking heads with Seedling, proprietor of Crooks Corner, an isolated and shady trading post. Particularly troublesome is Seedling's prize fighter, George, a fearsome baboon with large white fangs and a decidedly bad attitude. The climax of the story is when the young Jock, in true David and Goliath style, takes on the fearsome George.
(Producer / director / screenwriter)
After graduating at Durban Art College with a diploma in graphic design and photography, MacNeillie completed a course in lighting at the Central School of Art in London. Returning to South Africa, he founded his own advertising agency, and began to work on big-budget commercials for the cinema circuit.
At the same time his passion for wildlife and conservation issues led him to make a number of documentaries with renowned ecological activist, Dr. Ian Player and his colleague, Magqubu Ntombela. He made his first feature film, Jock of the Bushveld in 1986, and has been involved in motion pictures ever since. He has been working on the CGI Stereoscopic 3D animated version of Jock of the Bushveld since early 2007.
Members of the team
Oscar-winning lyricist Sir Tim Rice is a key member of the Jock team, being the lyricist for six major songs in the movie. "The animation quality is fantastic. As good as my days at Disney, and I am delighted to be involved. I am confident this will be a winner." - Sir Tim Rice
Bryan Adams plays the voice of Jock, our Hero. He has also written a song for the film. Bryan Adams is the best selling Canadian male recording artist of all time. He is also a renowned songwriter, musician, voice artist and photographer.
Johnny Clegg is one of South Africa's most successful composers and performers. He has achieved huge popularity throughout Europe and Africa. Johnny was involved with the original 1986 live action film of Jock of the Bushveld, composing and singing the signature track, Spirit of the Great Heart, which became a chart-topper in many different countries, and which is still closely associated with the Jock story today.
Teacher-turned musician/songwriter Craig Hinds is the driving force behind one of South Africa's best known bands, Watershed. Craig has thrown himself into the Jock project with characteristic passion and enthusiasm and together with Nianell sings a heart-warming duet in the film. Nianell, is known to South Africans as "the Voice of an Angel"; the reason could be her ability to comfortably sing across four octaves or to easily slip into any style from Pop to Country, Folk, R&B, Classic and even Celtic. Nianell, the acclaimed singer looks and sounds like a world famous star.
The most reverend Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, is second only to Nelson Mandela as the face of the liberation of modern South Africa. The Nobel Peace Prize winner remains an active force in political and social debate, and is widely regarded as the moral conscience of South Africa. With his distinctive voice and infectious laugh, there can be no person better suited to play the role of Tata, the spiritual leader of the community that Jock is born into.
Helen Hunt is the voice of Jess, Jock's mother. She began studying acting at the age of eight with her father, respected director and acting coach Gordon Hunt. A year later she made her professional debut and afterwards worked steadily in films, theatre and television. Helen has won Four Emmys, four Golden Globes, a Blockbuster Award, two Screen Actors Guild awards, four American Comedy Awards, three Viewers for Quality Television Awards and an Oscar, along with other awards.
A true character actor, Donald Sutherland voices the role of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick as an old man looking back at his adventures. The towering presence of this Canadian character actor is not often noticed, but his contributions are legendary. He has been in almost a hundred and fifty different shows and films. He is also the father of renowned actor Kiefer Sutherland. Donald Sutherland has made a lasting impact on Hollywood, whether portraying a chilling and horrifying villain, or playing the older respectable character in his films.
William Baldwin has distinguished himself as an actor/ producer/writer who continues to showcase his multitude of talents in the world of film and television. Baldwin has starred in over 25 films of varied genres and now voices the Boatman in Jock.
Andy Rice heads up Jock Marketing (Pty) Ltd., the company that is responsible for building awareness and interest in the Jock brand. Andy's career has been spent almost entirely in advertising and marketing strategy in South Africa, where he has consulted to many of the world's leading brands.
The essence of a brand is the central spirit at the core of the product - its DNA, and Rice has detailed a number of themes for the Jock brand, while building the brand through character licensing deals, activities, competitions and events, all of which sustain public interest and a sense of anticipation for the forthcoming movie.
Interesting Jock facts:
- On average we animate 2 seconds of footage per day.
- There are 14 main characters in the film. 7 are animals, 7 are humans.
- For the average close up, Jock has around 2.7 million individual strands of hair on his body.
- The film is told from the animals' perspective. The animals talk, when they are not around the humans.
- Jock has 5 brothers and sisters - he is the smallest, the runt of the litter.
- Jock's closest friend is a rooster called Pezulu.
- One of the main sets in the film is Crooks Corner - it is here that Jock meets his rival, a baboon named George.
The art of animation
South African filmmaking