Skinning Fanie Visagie

By Gordon van der Spuy

I dig how things sometimes just happen. A few months ago I was sitting at my pal Nick van Rensburg’s spread; we were babbling about fly fishing and messing around with fly tying equipment. I may be weird that way, I know, but I like the funny side of life and enjoy and prefer finding the humour in things as opposed to torturing myself with banal realities. On this particular day I was tying a massive SF kob fly pretending to be “Mabel Mxenga”, a character I’d come up with while sitting there (I’m an actor by profession). I’d given her a full life history, “alles” as you’d say in good Afrikaans.

Gordon van der Spuy (right) on stage
Gordon van der Spuy (right) on stage

Mabel had learnt to tie flies from Barry Kent, at High Flies in the Eastern Cape. They called the factory High Flies because the employees were mostly stoned whilst they were tying flies. Well, in my story at least.

Beyond his talent in acting, Gordon is a gifted fly tyer
Beyond his talent in acting, Gordon is a gifted fly tyer

Nick was filming all of this nonsense on his cell phone. He sent it on to his FlyBru equal Matt Gorlei. “Matty will dig this sh!t”, he said. Nick enjoyed it so much that I thought it would make a good movie. “We can shoot it and put it on your FlyBru channel; reckon okes will dig it?” I mentioned. “Ja bru, we must”, came his reply. “Its fresh” he carried on. I left Nick’s place one silly-looking kob fly later and forgot about the idea.

Three weeks later I got a phone call from Matty. I’d met Matty before but never really chatted to him properly.

“Hi, this is Matt, I’m phoning about that idea guy” he said.

“What are you talking about?” I asked inquisitively, a bit baffled.

“Filming your fly tying sh!t dude!?” he replied abruptly.

“Oh yes, that idea! What about it?” I said sheepishly.

“Let’s do it”, Matty said more seriously, “What are you doing tomorrow?”

“Ok…Nothing really”, I replied.

“Let’s do it tomorrow!!!” Matt yelped in my ear.

“Sure bru, text me the address and I’ll pull in. Is ten-o’clock cool?” I asked.

“Perfect”, came his excited reply, “Christiaan Pretorius will also be there, he might be a bit late, but that’s cool”.

It was 10 pm and I desperately needed to come up with something. I was going to be on set in twelve hours.

It happened “sommer” just like that. The next day I was driving up a little alley in Stellenbosch looking for a tattoo parlour. Matt’s flat was next to the tattoo parlour. When I entered Matt’s dwelling, there were ten students chilling in the lounge. One of them was chewing on a Big Mac.

“Howsit!!!” I greeted the audience impersonally, expecting the strangers to leave. No one did.

Christiaan and Matt were getting the camera gear ready; they were going to do the filming. Christiaan had just come back from a guiding stint in Russia, it was his week off. Talk about dedication.

“I’ve come up with a character I call Fanie Visagie” I announced to the audience. I hadn’t had much prep time but came up with something I thought could work. To be honest, I based Fanie’s character on various people I actually knew, so in fact not much prep was needed. Matty pulled out his mom’s hat and poked one of my feathers into it and said, “Ya that looks cool, that’ll work bru”.

The background looked a bit bland, so I pulled out a stolen ‘stop’ sign that lived in the courtyard behind the flat. Bingo! The hat made a beautiful picture and the stop sign was the perfect backdrop for the ‘stage’.

Gordon living Fanie Visagie in episode one, "The Klippies en Kolgaans with Fanie Visagie"
Gordon living Fanie Visagie in episode one, “The Klippies en Kolgaans with Fanie Visagie”

I got the flow going like a down-town rapper in terms of content while the dudes were still chilling in the living room – our Big Mac fan chewed ever so quietly not to disturb the filming. I must say, as far as live studio audiences go, those guys were flipping cool. I’d never really worked like that before; it was a very ‘loose’ way of acting. I’m used to scripts and rigid studios with assistant directors pushing on the schedule the whole time – there’s nothing relaxing about it. But it took us an hour and a half to film episode one of Fanie Visagie. Very quick if compared to the standard in the filming industry. I was very sceptical as to how the movie was actually going to look like.

A few weeks later I saw the final product. It wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t care because it was cool and certainly fresh. After watching the movie it was obvious to me that Matty had raw editing talent. The guy had a feel for rhythm and without any professional training he actually put a decent episode together. Editors are born in my opinion, they are not made. Matty was a natural.

A month later we shot the second episode. Everyone, including myself, was a lot more jacked up. We spent more time on pre-production. Our narrative was also a bit more complex, there were more elements involved. I loved the story and the feeling it gave me.

In the second episode Nick was also filming; we had three cameras rolling, a “lekker” “Boerewors” on the fire and a brandy-and-Coke in hand. To be honest, the “Boerewors” never burnt. How I’m not sure, because those flames were damn hot?

Gordon multi-tasking in Fanie's Zonker
Gordon multi-tasking in Fanie’s Zonker

Five weeks after the first ‘production’ we published Fanie’s Zonker on youtube. The interest’s been good and current indications are that there will be a third episode and perhaps a fourth, and a fifth, and maybe many more? That’s Fanie’s story, a simple idea that was initiated with an ugly kob fly and a cell phone. Special thanks to the two crazy guys, Nick and Matt, who followed the plan through. Long live FlyBru!

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