Being involved with food doesn’t just mean being in a kitchen. This month’s cooking up inspiration features the Executive Producer Rebecca Fuller-Campbell of a new counterculture South African travelogue and food show Food, Booze & Tattoos. If you haven’t caught a glimpse of this rad show yet, you better tune in tonight (SABC 3, 9pm). In the meantime, carry on reading as Rebecca shares more about the new show, as well as her love for food, theatre and media.
Unlike most people that have been featured on Cooking up Inspiration, Rebecca’s journey towards food started in media and theatre. “My career started back in London about 16 years ago. After studying World Theatre and Media I knew I wanted to work in television. I made a lot of tea, I mean a lot. I sat in every meeting I could and took heaps of notes and listened. In a previous life I had imagined working in front of the camera but working in development I quickly realised it was creating and developing the ideas that I loved. Seeing them come to life is a wonderful feeling. I had the privilege of cutting my teeth at companies such as Impossible Pictures, working on series such as Primeval and working with some of the best creatives and producers in the UK,” shares Rebecca.
Having started from the bottom, Rebecca has now started her own company, Oxyg3n Media. “We are working with a lot of local and international partners on a slate of drama and a slate of food shows. We’re working closely with Three Rivers in the UK and Endemol Shine Africa. It’s an exciting time. Currently we’re in post with a series for BBC online which was shot in London for UK producer Screen Glue. We aim to prove that SA is where it is at for talent and create and bring as much work here as we can. We’re passionate about content produced locally for global audiences – that’s the dream,” says Rebecca.
Having started her own company, Rebecca also has a few other highlights of her career to share. “I loved working at Impossible Pictures, working on high end drama is a real joy for me, I love drama and food so I am pretty blessed with what I do. But in all honesty I have loved it all – even the hard stuff because sometimes production is really hard – but it’s the people you meet and then at the end of it all – having a show that you can share and look back on. I love that. A project that I was particulary proud of was a show I created called Nege Maande, Nine Months. Whilst I was pregnant with my first child Lily I wanted to know everything I could about babies but didn’t know who to talk to so I created a Facebook group which 30 of my old female school friends are on, we’re all mums and share everything – literally – it’s quite incredible. I thought more people should do this so with Ochre Media I created the show for KykNET and we followed nine mums through nine months of pregnancy, nine births – well 10 because there were twins – it was amazing. I was nominated for an award for creating that show which was pretty cool. It feels special because I love babies and it feels like a bit of a legacy piece as all my children arrived through the idea and then the two series,” says Rebecca.
A dream career wouldn’t come with some challenges on the way and Rebecca notes some of the main ones she has had to overcome, “Any producer will tell you there are challenges, you have an idea you love and people seem excited about it and then it fizzles out or you can’t quite get that last bit of financing together. There are so many challenges, the trick is to overcome them. You have to let some ideas go or evolve them. It’s a bit like when you have created an amazing gorgonzolla soup and your told ‘ummm its nice but I’d have used stilton’. You have to be prepared to let criticism go because when the good ideas happen it’s so rewarding,” says Rebecca.
One great idea Rebecca and a team of people didn’t let fizzle out was the makings of ‘Food, Booze & Tattoos’. “All credit in creating Food, Booze & Tattoos goes to producer and creator of the series Larney de Swardt. She came up with an epic title and a very cool idea and we moulded it with a great team into something special. It was essential to understand the local and international market for the series so it could travel, and we could show off this beautiful country in a unique way. We are very lucky to have Cinelfix Rights in charge of the distribution, because its doing really well internationally. I’d say we are all very proud of how the series turned out and everyone who worked on it had a part to play in that.” Rebecca continues to share how they decided on host Brett Rogers for the series, “Larney knew of Brett Rogers, and brought him in to meet me, and we knew straight away that he was our guy. He’s worldly, loves food and travel, is accessible to men and woman and well he has some pretty neat tats! Brett really got stuck into the series and its development and completely embraced his role on the project.”
This show is just a small part of how passionate Rebecca is about food. When the filming is done and Rebecca is at home, the kitchen is one of her favourite spaces. Rebecca shares, “I love cooking for my family; it’s a real joy to see them eat something I have made and to eat proper food. We’re all about proper food in our house – and we do love a bit of Tim Noakes. I love things I can cook in my giant Le Crueset pot on the stove, like big stews, boeuf bourguignon (you have to love Julia Childs) or giant pots of mince which can be served with yummy veg; the children love mince. We also like big salads with things like basil or pineapple and nuts and seeds and I am a complete cheese freak. But if we go out, I LOVE Asian food; it’s my not very secret gulity pleasure. It’s my dream to have a giant farmhouse kitchen with the counter right in the middle and a pot of something bubbling on the stove where we can all be together. I absolutely cannot bake though, it’s far too much of a precision science for a creative. I always get carried away and add extra bits and bobs that shouldn’t be there!”
Rebecca Fuller-Campbell shows us that our passions, no matter how many we have, can be made a part of our lives in some way. We just have to not worry about it and get on with it (I suggest you read below for her advice). When you set your mind on something, plan it out, step by step, and work really hard to make it happen – even if it takes a long time to accomplish – don’t give up!
What advice would you give to budding producers or anyone that wants to pursue their passion?
The advice my father gave me JFDI (Just %&%&% do it). He told me there are no problems, only challenges we must overcome. If you have an idea and you love it, you have to just go for it! There will always be obstacles and challenges, but if you believe in it enough and are passionate then you’ll learn all you can and you’ll go for it. Be good to people, be kind to the people you work with, listen to everyone on the job because we all learn and grow together – your runner could be the next Spielberg! Keep in touch with people you have worked with, be interested in other people’s projects and most importantly of all LOVE LOVE LOVE what you do. If you don’t then what’s the point?
What is your pet peeve in the kitchen?
I love the kitchen and can’t really think of one. Our kitchen is the entry point to our house so I do get very annoyed that it can be a dumping ground for toys, screwdrivers and things that simply do not belong. I love my kitchen so much; it’s a special creative space. I wish it was bigger and could have a giant table in it, then I would really live in it – but we’ve put a table right by the back door so I am sitting practically in my kitchen while I write this.
What is the best cooking advice you have ever been given and who gave it to you?
Gosh I am so incredibly blessed to be surrounded by amazing foodies like my dear friend Anna Trapido, the lovely Erica and John Platter, Coco Reinharz, my mum and my mother-in-law who has her own amazing resturant in Clarens – 278 on Main – so its difficult to say. But Sue (my mother-in-law) has taught me a great deal about cooking meat and now I love meat. I was a vegetarian for 15 years!
What is your favourite kitchen appliance?
Does my giant Le Crueset pot count? I am totally in love with it! It never even gets put away so that I can stare at it all the time. Stan Joseph from Ochre Media bought it for our wedding. For Christmas my husband James bought me an AMAZING butcher’s block and it’s divine and I feel all farmhouse kitcheny just chopping on it.
What is your motto in the kitchen?
“Pass the wine”
Complete this sentence: I believe food is …
To be shared with loved ones. Sharing a home-cooked meal can fix all the bad stuff and fill you up with love.