Picture this: You’re sitting in your front yard, stressing about the fact that you’re unemployed and have been for the past year. Moments later, you get recognised by a street casting crew and by the end of the day you’re told you’ve got the part to be a lead actor for an advert.
This is exactly what happened to Dickies van Rooyen, 22, from Dunoon township. He had been relying on contract jobs, a “career” he says he’d never wanted to pursue but got into because he wanted to finish his matric studies. “I was in my front yard doing nothing when I was approached by some guys,” says Dickies. “They said they are a casting crew, called Giant Films, and asked whether I’d like to audition for a baseball advert because I fitted the profile of the type of person they were looking for. I agreed. When I auditioned, I was then asked to play with a baseball bat. I did everything I’ve seen in movies. Later that day, I got the call telling me I’d been accepted as the lead actor.” In no time he was on a film set perfecting an acting role like a true professional.
The advert was produced by BBDO, an advertising agency in Green Point. The agency’s Executive Creative Director, Ivan Johnson, says: “The ad challenges the cliché of life in the townships and what people go through on a daily basis. The lead character [Dickies] snakes through Dunoon township carrying a baseball bat, and comes across as rather violent and menacing. We then see him swinging his bat and our immediate impression is that he’s about to hit someone, but in fact he’s just hitting a ball; as we realise that he’s at a baseball stadium merely playing baseball.
“And that’s what it’s all about. It’s about giving kids the opportunity to do more than what we think they can do and, essentially, that’s what the Blaauwberg Baseball club does. They give kids from underprivileged backgrounds the chance to do something else, like sport.”
We arrived on set mid-morning and found ourselves confused with everything that was going on around us and feeling a little out of place. As we walked toward the location where a particular scene was being shot, we saw a hoard of locals standing outside their homes, wanting to know what all the commotion was about and hoping to catch a glimpse of their favourite Generations star — which unfortunately, didn’t happen, this being a homegrown, no-star production. We saw children running around barefoot, dancing and playing to their heart’s content. We then passed a house where a lady was braaing a batch of fish at a make-shift stand, which she sells to make her daily wage, and even saw a man carrying a huge TV on his shoulders through the busy streets, which we thought was a bit strange at first. But these are exactly the kinds of suspicions and preconceptions the advert set out to undo. Who knows? There we were thinking the guy could have snatched the TV, when perhaps he was just an innocent Samaritan helping relatives to relocate to their new house down the street. And speaking of TVs, look out for BBDO’s awesome Blaauberg Baseball Club advert on a small screen near you!
Writers: Cristle Mokwape & Jayson White
Designer: Mikhail Petersen
Photographer: Cebisa Zono