Established in 1996 by Dale Kushner, AFS serves the needs of the international commercials, stills and film industry wanting to shoot in Africa. Originally founded in Los Angeles, the head office is now located in Cape Town, South Africa. Joining Dale Kushner a couple of years later was family member Brin Kushner. This team has driven AFS to become recognized as one of the premier service production companies in South Africa.
The company now marks a major milestone, its 20th anniversary. We asked executive producers Dale and Brin Kushner to reflect on their business and how the industry has evolved over their company’s long tenure.
Q: As you mark your 20th anniversary, what have been the keys to AFS Productions’ longevity?
Dale Kushner: AFS is a family-owned and run business. This has always allowed us to give each job the personal attention and consistency of service that it deserves. Our offices and staff provide a relaxed and comfortable environment for our clients, as well as a level of attention to detail that is world class. We love what we do and want to make sure our clients not only get the job done successfully but also have a great time doing it. We are passionate and personally invested from beginning to end, from the bidding process right through to the final hugs and handshakes at wrap.
Q: Please tell us about your business and how has it evolved over the years in terms of clients and the services you offer? Do you extend your reach beyond South Africa?
Brin Kushner: AFS has been in operation since 1996, and its core values have remained the same since its inception. As we have grown we have strengthened our relationships with an international repeat clientele base and furthered our ability to provide them with world-class service. Our hands-on approach, despite our growth in size, is integral to our success and dependability.
We offer first-rate production and logistical support as always. But with each job that comes through our doors we take away something new that only expands our expertise and ability to provide our clients with an exceptional experience. What has always stood us apart from our competitors is that our business has never stopped evolving. We maintain our original values and dedication to service, while constantly furthering our proficiency.
A great addition over the past two years has been the construction of an in-house studio space for small shoots and callbacks, as well as a kitchen and bathroom set that has been created to fit the American look that we are often asked to emulate. Nowadays our reach does extend beyond South Africa. We are geared up to shoot all over Africa as well as the Indian Ocean Islands. Our AFS logo has even been seen as far afield as Majorca and Tahiti!
Q: How has the South African production market developed during your company’s tenure, particularly in recent years relative to filming and post resources as well as the overall talent pool?
Kushners: The South African production market has seen massive and consistent growth since the company was started. We are able to provide world-class studio spaces, A-list crew and an incredibly unique and tailored experience. Every year new highly skilled crew joins our ranks, and this pool continues to grow.
Our rich variety of landscapes and architecture mean we are able to replicate the look of almost anywhere in the world. From mountains, to deserts, to cityscapes – we have it all and more.
With the industry growing at such a rapid rate over the past few years, the talent pool has also grown substantially. Every year we see more and more international talent making their way to South Africa for what is becoming our infamous “season.”
The market has once again seen a significant boom with the weakening of our exchange rate, and it has been a great boost in ensuring that gear houses keep investing in the latest gear and that South Africa remains a competitive service production destination.
Q: What are key points that prospective clients should be aware of when considering bringing their projects to shoot in South Africa? Advantages? Misconceptions?
Kushners: We have world-class crew and production services, locations that can double for a multitude of countries, a rich talent pool and a beautiful country that will – quite honestly – take your breath away.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that safety is a concern. Shooting in Cape Town is like shooting in any big city. South Africa, as a country, offers unparalleled hospitality and a truly unique experience that you will not soon forget.
Q. Please tell us about your most recent notable project, when it was completed and where it is or will appear. Why was it noteworthy or gratifying, or what valuable lesson did you learn from it?
Kushners: We enjoy all our projects but if we had to single one recent one out, it would be the launch of the new “Most Interesting Man” for Dos Equis. It was incredible to be involved with such a momentous moment in the life of a brand and see it take a new direction.
The Traktor collective from production house Rattling Stick directed this first full commercial of the new “Most Interesting Man In The World”--portrayed by Augustin Legrand--for Dos Equis out of Havas Worldwide.
Titled “Airboat,” the spot--which aired in North America--reveals more of the character’s mystique and depth following the prior month’s release of a teaser trailer which provided a glimpse of the captivating spokesman.
This time around, we see him engaged in such endeavors as racing airboats down sand dunes, and sparring in Samurai armor.
Another great campaign for AFS to be involved with was Heinz’s “Weiner Stampede” that caused quite a stir during last year’s Super Bowl. Directed by Jeff Low of Biscuit Filmworks for agency DAVID Miami, the charmingly absurd spot featured a bunch of weiner dogs in hot dog costumes running towards a family decked out in Heinz condiment costumes. The hot doggies jump all over the condiment folks, proving that they can’t resist great taste.
AFS was also incredibly proud to be involved in the production of the Old Spice TV commercials that took home two Gold Lions at Cannes last year.