MWF 38: Rooted Media - Barend Van Der Watt & Henk Ekermans

Barend & Henk chat about their TV series Rooted, how they got their start in the industry, and overcoming the challenges of filming during a pandemic.

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Barend van der Watt 

From an early age, Barend knew his life had to be one in nature. After school, he obtained a degree in Photography and then proceeded to study Nature Conservation. He started his work career in the Kruger National Park in South Africa as a game ranger and guide and so obtained valuable insight into the life of the natural world.

The end of 2004 marked the start of his filmmaking career as a wildlife cameraman when he was granted the opportunity to work for award-winning National Geographic filmmaker, Kim Wolhuter. He worked on numerous productions for National Geographic, Animal Planet International and various other broadcasters. Since, he has also worked with the IUCN and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

Over the years while working with Kim Wolhuter, he mastered his skills as a natural history documentary editor, cameraman and producer.

In 2015 Barend started producing Natural History Films of his own, with “Rooted” being the first series he produced and filmed, along with his life partner Henk Ekermans. The 5-part series focused on the secret lives of some of Africa’s most iconic trees and the life they support. “Rooted” won numerous awards around the globe and 19 world wide nominations.

Work has taken Barend to various countries like, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland, Namibia and Gabon. And over the past year, Barend also travelled and filmed extensively in Chile, Peru and Mexico for a new nature series.

Henk Ekermans

Henk developed a love for film at a very young age. To achieve his dream of becoming a brilliant and successful film-maker, he went to study at The South African School of Film, Television and Dramatic Art (AFDA), where he graduated with Honours, specializing in editing. He won the award for best editor and also taught editing in his final year at AFDA.

After graduating Henk started his career editing drama, working as head editor on, two South African TV drama series for kykNET. He also worked at Gasworks for a while, expanding his horizons as an online editor.

In 2008 his travels to the rest of Africa began when he was commissioned to edit a reality series in Zambia. Since then he has been lucky enough to work on different projects across Africa in countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and Niger.

From there, his career only grew as he worked for companies such as Rapid Blue, MTV Africa, Masters and Savant, Urban Brew, Underdog Productions, Aquavision, Launch Factory, Lucky Bean Productions, to name just a few. He has edited documentaries, reality series, commercials, corporates, music videos, drama series, wildlife and short films.

Apart from being an accomplished editor, Henk also is a gifted storyteller and a talented graphic designer.


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