Bioscope unmutes South Africa in massive 21 film campaign for The Unlimited

Working with Joe Public, the team at Bioscope were tasked to create the launch campaign of the new insurance company, The Unlimited. The result of the ambitious undertaking is 21 short films that are all united by one common trait, they are about people who have the undying will to defy expectation and challenge the norm – pushing the boundaries in each of their respective disciplines: From drag artists breaking ground for the African LGBTQI+ community to a one-armed drummer who is undoing his past, to a waste-reclaimer from Soweto who may seem small, but she’s doing big things. We go behind the minds of Bioscope to find out what it took to bring the campaign to life.

To pull off this mammoth task, the team first needed the right collaborators and stories that would capture The Unlimited attitude and spirit, ‘We were not looking for influencers but rather real creators, with positive stories and positive impacts.’ Says director Fausto Becatti. 15 directors were enlisted to tell the 21 stories, four of whom were Bioscope directors Kyla Philander, Zipho Dlangamandla, Fausto Becatti and Rio Allen. Fausto also led the creative vision of the campaign. He brought to life the manifesto of The Unlimited in a TV ad that incorporated different elements from each story. Have a look:

Fausto Becatti says of the TVC: ‘For the final brand commercial, we used footage from all the 21 films, but also created a common thread that pulls us through the edit in a cohesive and dynamic way. My goal was to leave the viewer with a powerful feeling, creating an incentive to act on that feeling and to seek out The Unlimited. We needed a golden thread, and that manifested in the form of a hero character; a fresh, young exciting female character who carries us through the story and who grounds the edit. She starts upside-down, unborn, and is birthed into existence. We follow her as she goes through obstacles, passing by other stories, and ultimately, she finds the way forward. She reaches the glowing monolith of light that represents a number of things, boldly diving into the next realm.’

Joe Public’s Executive Creative Director, Brendan Hoffman says of the campaign: ‘It feels like we made thousands of decisions in executing this campaign but the most important one was appointing the team at Bioscope Films. Fausto Becatti’s endless enthusiasm to create an absolutely unique campaign and Dan Kaplan’s (Bioscope Executive Producer) ability to implement that plan were two key ingredients to pulling this off. Nobody involved in the campaign from agency or production had ever attempted something this complicated. You’d expect that would create an atmosphere of fear in the team but instead, from day one, there was a powerful sense of optimism and excitement into the project. The answer to any suggestion was never ‘no’ but rather ‘what if’.’

The amount of planning that goes into executing a campaign like this blows our minds and we shudder to think what that production spreadsheet looked like. Here’s a peak behind the scenes.

The Unlimited BTS

BTS images from The Unlimited shoot

‘Working together with Joe Public, we managed to pull off a campaign that spreads across so many different tiers of communication, one that includes so many talented individuals and is unified in vision. I think it’s a really bold campaign for a brand like this, an insurance company in South Africa, and it’s great to see a client and agency that are willing to create this kind of work.’ Says Fausto.

Creating 21 films that tell the stories of 21 remarkable people is a triumph and a testament to the power of collaboration, do yourself a favour and watch all the films here. While we fell in love with the whole campaign, we spoke to Bioscope directors, Kyla Philander, Zipho Dlangamandla, Fausto Becatti and Rio Allen about 4 of the short films they created.

Unmute and Damn the Consequence – Belinda Qa-qamba Ku-fassie
Directed by Kyla Philander

Director Kyla Philander says ‘The story is about THE remarkable Belinda Qaqamba Ka-Fassie. How her existence, her birth, her unbounded nature are a necessity in our collective healing as femme people, as queer people as Black people. This film feels like such a remarkable step in storytelling within our industry, a vital step in being able to authentically, play, pay homage to and have an archive of such an important person and moment. I feel particularly soft about how beautiful and familiar the piece became. It was very important that in the work we could see Belinda’s intent with her drag which Jody Brand expertly created in the stylised looks that you see in the film. There was so much intention behind how it all came together and I think the more we consider our work in this way, the more tender and sincere everything becomes. I’m so excited the best thing I’ve ever made is out in the world.’

BTS images from the Unlimited shoot

Unbullied by the Likes of You – Natalie Paneng
Directed by Fausto

‘Natalie is brave and bold, an amazing artist with a vision, but she wasn’t always that. I wanted to capture her story about her past, being bullied and dealing with that; how she’s used that to own her story and become a force of nature. We used a stack of different cameras, 3D scanned her face and experimented with the different characters that represented that oppressive outer voice and inner voice, exploring the visual of one’s self-image and the negative thought pattern that can overwhelm you. Then stripping her back to the purest and most free version of Natalie, she opens up to find herself, and find strength and confidence in her insecurities.’ Says Fausto.

Fausto also directed the shorts: Unneed anything in your veins but potential and Undo your past.

BTS images from the Unlimited shoot

Unbroken, Unbloody & Unbowed – Puseletso Mabote
Directed by Zipho Dlangamandla

Zipho Dlangamandla: ‘I have known Puseletso Mabote since he was 4 years old. He was always a bubbly kid, forever smiling. He got into a horrific car accident on his way to school one day, the event shook the entire community as some people died. I remember he mentioned that he will never forget that day because it was going to be the first time his mother was going to see him receive an award at school. The accident was so severe that he had to get his leg amputated. For a while, we didn’t get to see him, but whenever I did, he was always so optimistic about life. You would see him playing with other kids while on his crutches and knew that he believed that this was not the end of life. Fast forward to him getting into sports and now he is not only representing South Africa globally in athletics, but he has broken records and is travelling the world.’

BTS images from the Unlimited shoot

‘Puseletso Mabote is a young man who has so many big dreams and is slowly but surely able to make them come true no matter his circumstances. He has been through so much but still manages to come up as a champion. I hold this film very close to my heart because I was given the opportunity to tell his personal story and also be able to spread this message of hope around the world –  no matter what comes your way in life, it is all up to you on how you finish the race.’ Adds Zipho

Unbelieve in Churches of Deceivers – Inka Kendzia
Directed by Rio Allen

‘When conversing with the incredible Inka Kendzia about her work and her journey it struck me how personal her work was to her and I became fascinated with the fleeting nature of her projection work. Hearing how she would roam the streets at night projecting from her pocket projector felt like a beautiful story to follow for a short visual documentary, so we did just that. It was a fun and freeing experience to follow her through city spaces as they unfolded, collaborating and creating on the spot, to find a film and follow the story no matter what obstacles or opportunities came our way.’ Says Rio Allen.

BTS images from the Unlimited shoot

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Produced by the IDIDTHAT Content Studio – Credits: Anne Hirsch (Writer) / Julie Maunder

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