Where to start? 2016 was a full year for Bad Rabbit Studio. Expansive; I think that is a pretty good starting point. The word first crept up in a conversation between Buck and I late one night driving home from a wedding. We were carrying out a Bad Rabbit Studio post-wedding tradition of reflecting upon the day and how smoothly or otherwise it had gone. This usually includes a sizing up of sound quality, discussing the level of difficulty in getting the required shots, weighing up the aesthetic value of the venue, the quality of light during the reception and of course sharing a chuckle over the crazy relative who kept everyone constantly entertained (there is always one at every wedding). This particular wedding had brought together two families from vastly different cultural backgrounds thus allowing us a glimpse into a way the two families navigate the differences between them and celebrate the commonalities that bind them. The experience had only been possible thanks to Bad Rabbit Studio. As strangers, we would never have otherwise been invited to share such an intimate moment that connected one part of the world with another.
Time and time again, throughout the year, Bad Rabbit Studio proved to be an expansive force in our lives. With cameras in hand, we were welcomed into businesses, homes, churches and reception venues all over Zimbabwe. Buck flew to Victoria Falls on numerous occasions throughout the year and even drove down to Beitbridge for a wedding. There is very little that goes on in a wedding that Bad Rabbit hasn’t seen or been in the middle of – we’ve bowed our heads and sung through 29 wedding ceremonies this year; Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Anglican, Presbyterian, non-denominational, agnostic wedding ceremonies, labola, you name it, Bad Rabbit will have likely documented it. A few memorable moments that have really stuck with us included a rather fiery pastor giving a very impassioned speech on the perils of the Americanization of Shona culture and sodomy (yes, he went there) – for two hours. It is hard to forget the back-of-the-throat hard lump feeling of watching a groom bring an entire congregation to tears while relating how proud his late father would have been with him for marrying such a phenomenal woman. We have seen a cake seven levels high, suspended from the celling by supporting chains sway, topple, sway some more and finally fall splat onto the dance floor accompanied by one hundred collective gasps. All that we have experienced is such a privilege. Bad Rabbit Studio has opened our eyes to the vibrancy of cultural divergence active in Zimbabwe and that we believe, is a beautiful thing! This past year, Bad Rabbit Studio has been allowed to really feel and experience something other than our usual patterns, practices and has broadened our understanding of life. This year had been expansive.
This year saw Bad Rabbit Studio morph from Buck working from a cottage lounge/kitchen/bedroom into an actual office space with a ridiculously cool vibe with computers, desks, blackboard and even a branded door to boot. Bad Rabbit Studio has grown from one person to two, from a desk to an office, from a small start-up to a busy, well respected and still growing company. Looking over the list of jobs and achievements below, I cannot wait to see what 2017 holds for Bad Rabbit Studio!
January marked a massive shift for Buck. He became a teacher. For someone who was suspended for sneakily drinking at Southern Africa’s prime institution for gentlemen when he was supposed to be tucked up in bed and who has an intense resistance to authority of any sort, it was quite an unexpected turn of events! I like to imagine a few of Buck’s old teachers coming across the announcement that he would be teaching a course at St Johns College for aspiring filmmakers and photographers with something of a “I’ll eat my hat” type of response. Nevertheless, Buck steered the boys through two terms without leading a single one astray. By all accounts he was a rather good teacher!
February is traditionally a quiet time in our line of work what with the festive season still being worn off and with a new school year underway. Taking advantage of the respite, Buck put his creative genius to work diving into the Bad Rabbit expedition archive to create what become the popular “Welcome to Bad Rabbit Studio” video. This was Bad Rabbit Studio’s first taste of what ‘going viral’ really felt like. The video blew up on social media stacking up 454 likes and 19 170 views (not that we are counting or anything WINKY FACE) and Buck will forever be remembered as the man who opened with “hey, what up guys”.
Chimanimani beckoned us in March to its ragged peaks. We were so impressed by it’s beauty and by how hard earned the experience was that Buck and I produced a blog together that was in turn picked up and published by the local monthly lifestyle magazine Out of Africa. The article was our first ever piece of published material and our first major collaboration as a team. You can read our article in our blog by clicking below. March brought on the beginning of the wedding season with Bad Rabbit shooting 7 weddings in March, April and May.
Building upon the aims Buck set out in his ‘Welcome to Bad Rabbit Studio’ clip, in April the ‘Chasing Smiles Challenge’ was born. We sought to lighten up the social media ecosphere and momentarily change the language used about Zimbabwe by posting 30 instances of positivity found in and around Harare for the 30 days of April. Charged with sourcing people and organizations that uplift, inspire and trail blaze within the Harare community, I was initially very skeptical as to whether we would be able to fill all 30 posts. Silly me. Harare is full of incredible people doing amazing things. We completed the challenge with ease and hope to make it an annual affair.
The months of May and June had Bad Rabbit Studio involved in predominantly corporate event videography (with the exception of the biggest and best birthday party either of us have witnessed). Buck landed a job with perhaps one of the worlds’ biggest fish in the brand industry, Coca Cola and covered an event for one of Zimbabwe’s oldest cellular telecommunications networks, Net One. Highlands House gave us our first promotional video job with us writing and producing a piece showcasing their lodge for the travel market and website use. A weekend was spent documenting Viva Vilankulous – a music festival in Vilankulos, Mozambique – in celebration of John Gardiner’s 60th birthday party. Russel and Ning topped off the month for Buck by asking us to document lunch at Sabai Thai Restaurant – it is literally Buck’s favorite restaurant in the world.
July found Buck with his wedding hat and tie on and me with my comfy shoes for the start of the marathon wedding season. Bad Rabbit went on to shoot 17 weddings over three and a bit months. That is 17 wedding meals consumed and deserts tasted. There definitely are perks to what we do!
August was a really, really big month for Bad Rabbit Studio. Buck released his first short film; a documentary of the wildlife artist Larry Norton at work in Gonarezhou National Park and the behind the scene process that goes into a creating a Larry Norton original. A month before the social media release, Larry had invited Buck to show the film at the painting reveal held at The Studio in Harare. Thinking it would be a small gathering of Larry, gallery owners and the couple that commissioned the painting, Buck went a dull shade of purple when after two glasses of Champagne and dozens of people streaming into the Studio, he realized he would be brought to bare in front of about 40 of Harare’s movers and shakers. Watching his face open into a shy smile as the final credits came up accompanied by an audience wide applause, I was so proud of Buck in that moment. He had ticked off a major box and had done so with style! Larry has a powerful story of perseverance and passion to tell and I know it wont be the last time Bad Rabbit and the art world collide. The second major event in August was equally exciting and another first – a music video. Shot live at the Miombo Magic music festival in Christon Bank, Bad Rabbit Studio produced a music video for the Afro Rock band Evicted. Yes, it was as fun to shoot as it looked! Accessing community and building relationships is important to us. We love working with passionate, local creatives and we absolutely loved working with Evicted on Ndoita Sei.
There are many reasons why I love doing what we do, but in September Parrogate gave me one of my favorite projects of the year, the “Got Power’ campaign. The Got Power campaign required us to identify brand appropriate individuals and give them a bag of Mealie Meal. They got to keep the Mealie Meal and were entered into a lucky draw with the prize being a year’s supply of Mealie Meal. In return we took their photograph and created material for a month long social media campaign led by the brand. Needless to say, this project was a lot of fun!
Micheal Bryan O’Donoghue, otherwise known around these parts as Buck, landed with his bum firmly in the no salt added butter in October. The poor lad had to fly to Lusaka, catch a private charter flight to Sausage Tree Camp on the Zambian side of the Lower Zambezi and then endure 8 days of wildlife viewing, fine cuisine and pool lounging – although his account of the trip is vastly different (if you go by his version it was non-stop work). I am not jealous, I promise! Buck updated their marketing photographs and put together a kick-ass promotional video. The group will be releasing the material next year. It was the first time Buck had put to test our new DJI Phantom 4 drone and DJI Ronin. The result of which is in my unbiased opinion, a beautiful and powerful marketing tool. October was also the fun ZB Fun Day. Candy floss, stilt walkers, hip hop dancers, need I say more? I should add Oliver Mtukudzi was the headlining act; deal sealer for me!
In amongst all this we had (a much appreciated) onslaught of weddings to film and edit. November, our glorious month of quiet, gave us the time to catch up on edits due and deliver to all the newly weds who so kindly allowed us to witness the beginning of their married lives together. We did however, find time to cover the Old Mutual Top Companies Awards at Meikles Hotel and catch up with the Mackay Brothers at the Art Roundabout for a memorable morning of music on Enterprise Road.
In the final month of the year, Buck had his series of photographs and short film of the “Behind the scenes with Patrick Mavros” exhibited within the Pangolin Collection launch at the Patrick Mavros Jewelry showroom and workshop in Umwimsidale, Harare and London, UK. He had worked on the project back in August so it was gratifying to see the project come to the fore. We shot five weddings and ran one Sky Run – well half (23km to be exact), but it was still a biggie.
Last but not least, 2016 birthed our new website of which we are incredibly proud. What a year it has been. Expansive to say the least. We have moved into a proper office, given our gear a serious upgrade and overhaul, worked with some of Zimbabwe’s premier brands and taken Bad Rabbit Studio beyond the boarders of Zimbabwe into Zambia and Mozambique. 2017, bring it on!
written by Joanna Craig