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Camera-ready for nature
As a behind the microphone guy, I found myself in front of a TV camera for the first time while getting #Down2Earth with WWF and People°s Weather – what a ride!
The brief was simple enough: I was asked to host the exciting six-part #Down2Earth television series with WWF experts, to be aired on the People°s Weather channel on DStv. Each episode would explore South Africa’s environmental realities around water, transport, plastic, sustainable seafood and agriculture as well as food waste.
When the email touched down in my inbox, I felt a shiver of self-doubt. I was being asked to challenge everything I thought I knew about my capabilities as a tastemaker in the South African entertainment world.
My very first thought was no way! But I knew I could rise to the occasion, opening myself to an entirely new, unchartered path. So I agreed immediately.
Schedules flew back and forth and before I knew it, it was the night before the first shoot. I had two scripts in my hands, a head full of questions and a destination set for trendy Braamfontein.
Connections: Old and new
While this was my TV debut, WWF and I go a ways back. In 2017 I was lucky enough to be invited to join their nature-based Journey of Water. On this three-day adventure, WWF guided a group of SA influencers and journalists through a remote and remarkable overland adventure to experience our country’s water reality. WWF water expert Samir Randeera-Rees and I had time for many chats on this journey of a lifetime.
On the morning of the first People°s Weather shoot, I ran into Samir ahead of our on-screen interview. As we were waiting to buy our coffee I had a crashing realisation: Remove the cameramen, sound guy, the producer and you’re in a radio interview. Duh, Kutloano why did you not think of it like that?!
Every interview should start off as a casual meeting of minds to put everyone at ease and this was no exception. I had found my ice-breaker.
The scary part was trying to remember all the facts I’d learned in preparation so that I wouldn’t feel clueless. But I shouldn’t have worried. The interviewees were with some of the funniest, happiest, most insightful people with a passion for nature. It’s made the experience one to remember and treasure.
Treading new waters
Having experienced the Journey of Water, I felt ready for action and the water interview with Samir ran smoothly. When it was time to take on South Africa’s transport interview later that day, I felt out of my depth. Innocentia Modau, WWF expert on all things ecomobility guided me with her knowledge and dynamism. Us both being new to the screen, we helped one another through the experience.
The next week I jetted off to the Mother City. By this point, I was comfortable in my TV skin.
Chatting to WWF marine expert John Duncan, aka Jason Statham, was a lot of fun. He’s a chilled guy who is open to sharing both his work and family life. He told a frightening but hopeful story about the state of plastics in our oceans – something that’s stayed with me since. We then moved on to a bubbly Tatjana von Bormann to tuck into our enormous food waste problem in South Africa. Our location was Oranjezicht City Farm in Cape Town, one of the coolest urban farms I’ve been to.
A taste of the wine life
The final day of shooting was rather nippy but WWF’s seafood expert Pavs Pillay soon had me warm with rumbling laughter. Arguably one of the funniest people I’ve met, she made my visit to Kalk Bay harbour cosy, insightful and interesting. Our warm exchanges were a great precursor to how we would end our day, with a sip or two (or was it three?) at Bartinney Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. It was here in the heart of the Cape winelands, home to the Cape Floral Kingdom, that we filmed our last interview with Shelly Fuller on WWF’s sustainable fruit and wine work.
Every one of these individuals has an alluring and compelling way of talking about what they do for nature and for all of us. The way they passionately explained the issues as well as the positive stories they had to share are mind-blowing and inspiration for all of us to make a difference not matter how big or small.
#Down2Earth has been a knock out the park for me because of how much I have learned by immersing myself in this incredible world of how people and nature connect. A massive thank you to WWF for the opportunity and to the production crew and director Chris, plus Tash, Susi and the rest of WWF for the guidance, patience and words of encouragement.
After watching the first episode I’m now certain the title TV presenter belongs on my resume. Would definitely do this again!
Catch #Down2Earth with Da Kruk on People°s Weather, DSTV channel 180 on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30pm. The show runs until 10 July.
Watch Down2Earth online
Stream all the episodes to date