Free Spirit (South African TV series)


Free Spirit (South African TV series)

"Free Spirit" is a television series, created by Sharon Farr and Lee Otten which first aired during 1999 and is currently running in its eighth season in South Africa on SABC.

Free Spirit is an upbeat and eclectic magazine programme for people interested in Open-minded Spirituality & Conscious Living. This spiritual lifestyle magazine series celebrates South Africa’s spiritual and cultural diversity and explores alternative health options in an entertaining, sometimes provocative, yet always non-sensational and embracing way.

Two documentary feature stories give the programme depth, providing viewers with insight into people’s spiritual journeys - both personal & geographical, exploring issues, practices and phenomena across a spectrum of beliefs and featuring projects or initiatives that have a positive effect on people’s lives.

Free Spirit also puts the Spiritual Spotlight on well-known figures talking about their spirituality and beliefs and provides easy-to-do lifestyle hints with shorter more practical pieces such as Healing with Herbs and new slot focused on culinary and therapeutic uses of Spices. Regular book reviews, Health Spa and Book give-aways as well a monthly readings from renowned Astrologer Rod Suskin add further value for viewers.

Produced by Cape Town based company, Shoot the Breeze Productions and hosted by Radio and TV personality Natalie Becker, Free Spirit is less about religion and more about spirituality and conscious living.

In 2006 Natalie Becker started conducting Free Spirit’s regular interviews with a range of local and international spiritual teachers and healers. In the past, these interviews were conducted by Editor of Odyssey Magazine, Chris Erasmus, but the producers feel that Natalie’s taking over of this role in the new slot, Free Talk, will give her more of a presence on the show.

Producers, Sharon Farr and Lee Otten, say that Free Spirit viewers represent the spectrum of South Africa’s religious and spiritual belief systems.

"Our viewers are eclectic by nature. What they love about Free Spirit is the broad diversity of topics covered and the show’s non-judgemental approach. The audience comprises both mainstream believers and a growing number of people who have developed their own personal spirituality with coverage of alternative healing therapies, ancestral beliefs and the spirit world making Free Spirit particularly popular with followers of African traditional spirituality"."

What has surprised the producers is how many people call in and email Shoot the Breeze after every show.

"We get feedback from people living in cities, in rural areas and small towns all over South Africa and as far afield as Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria, Egypt and Zimbabwe, say Farr and Otten.""South Africans from all belief systems are moving beyond just a tolerance of diversity. They are beginning to celebrate it and integrate it into their daily lives"."

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COMPANY PROFILE: SHOOT THE BREEZE PRODUCTIONS CC

Sharon Farr and Lee Otten are the dynamic and versatile documentary filmmakers who lead the team at Shoot the Breeze Productions.

Lee’s 19 years in the television industry as a producer/director/editor and Sharon’s print journalism background plus 14 years researching, producing, directing and scripting local and international documentaries and broadcast news features combine to form a highly competent and experienced documentary duo. Beyond the 196-part Free Spirit series currently airing on SABC 3, over the past ten years Shoot the Breeze has produced more than 80 documentary videos - from concept to broadcast or distribution - covering predominantly human interest, development, cultural, environmental, spiritual and socio-political issues.

The company’s hour long and half hour documentaries for SABC and e.tv still continue to be rebroadcast and have received acclaim at local and international Film Festivals and television industry awards. Shoot the Breeze has also produced documentary inserts for Community Desk on SABC 3, E-files on e.tv, A.R.T. on SABC 3 and SABC 2’s Lebone – Women on the Move as well as The Enterprise Zone; 3:16 and Education Express.

Airing twice a week on SABC 3 and several times a week on the SABC Africa satellite channel, Free Spirit has a committed following throughout South Africa and across the continent.

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AWARDS TO DATE

The series and producers have received twenty seven National Television and Video Association awards. The long Free Spirit run has provided the opportunity for Shoot the Breeze to expand it’s capacity with the employ of two editors, two production manager/directors, an accountant/HR consultant, a soundperson and a production assistant – allowing Sharon and Lee more time for creative input in the directing and producing of new material.

The company recently moved into the international market, producing a documentary short for Passionate Lives, a new international magazine series produced by Telecine Productions International.

Subcontracting the production of Free Spirit inserts to other independent production companies and hire of freelance crew for camera and sound recording means that Shoot the Breeze continuously contributes to the creation of work opportunities in South Africa’s fast-growing film industry.

In 2004 Sharon Farr completed PITCH FEVER, an hourlong home and away documentary about the Big Issue Magazine vendor Soccer Team’s participation in the 2003 Homeless Street Soccer World Cup in Austria. A co-production with Polish production company, Film Studio Everest, PITCH FEVER premiered on SABC 2’s Our Nation in Colour and screened at the Zanzibar International Film Festival and South Africa’s Apollo Film Festival in 2004.

Good Vibrations aired on SABC 2’s Issues of Faith in January 2005 and was screened at SA’s Exploring Consciousness Film Festival in November and New York’s GodonFilm Festival in July, where it was nominated for a Best Documentary Award.

Initially Shoot the Breeze worked almost exclusively in broadcast television but recent years have shown a broader application in the use of professional video in the development and NGO sector. Consequently, they have developed a solid client base producing fundraising, promotional, training and resource videos for organisations such as The Centre for Rural Legal Studies, Nazareth House Children’s Home, The Robben Island Museum, RAPCAN, The District Six Museum, Black Empowerment Fishing Companies Bluefin Holdings and Blue Horizon Fishing, the University of the Western Cape and UNITRA’s Community Higher Education Service Partnership Projects, PeaceJam International, The Development Action Group, NICRO, The Homeless People’s Federation and the Working for Water Programme.

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CURRENTLY IN PRODUCTION

*BRAM FISCHER: Afrikaner Revolutionary with Heart of Gold & Resolve of Steel. An hour long biographical documentary about legendary SACP activist and human rights lawyer, Bram Fischer will be completed mid 2006 as part of MNet’s New Directions Project.

*LUCK vs DESTINY: A half hour documentary exploring luck versus Destiny across South Africa’s major faiths and spiritual traditions for SABC 2’s Issues if Faith.

* LEAD UP TO THE HOMELESS STREET SOCCER WORLD CUP 2006: An hour long documentary on the lead up to the Homeless Street Soccer World Cup in Cape Town in 2006. The documentary will be broadcast before the event on SABC 2’s Our Nation in Colour to raise awareness around the event in South Africa.

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OTHER PRODUCTIONS BY SHOOT THE BREEZE

Broadcast Documentaries:

• MASINDY’S STORY, SABC 2’s
• Our Nation in Colour, 1 December 2005
• GOOD VIBRATIONS, SABC 2’s Issues of Faith, 2005
• PITCH FEVER, SABC 2’s Our Nation in Colour, 2004
• THE WILD WEST OF LOXTON, etv, 2000
• IN SEARCH OF THE GODDESS, SABC 2’s Issues of Faith, 2000
• PARLIAMENT OF THE WORLD’S RELIGIONS: Part 1 & 2, SABC 2’s
• Issues of Faith, 1999
• THE BRIDES OF CHRIST, etv, 1999

Magazine Shows:

• FREE SPIRIT on SABC 2: 118 Episodes from 2001 to 2003 (26 mins)
• FREE SPIRIT on SABC 3: 78 Episodes in 2004 & 2005 (24 - 26 mins)
• FREE SPIRIT on SABC 3: 52 Episodes in 2006


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