Travis Taute – a wildly ambitious storyteller

Travis Taute co-founded Gambit Films in 2009.

Travis is a writer, director, and producer whose body of work spans multiple mediums in film, television, and commercials.

An AFDA graduate (2008), Travis’s drive for creative excellence through genre-defining entertainment is wired into his DNA, forming a key component that enables the continued growth and success of Gambit Films.

A wildly ambitious storyteller, his love for the medium and need to push boundaries has seen some of his work win numerous awards, including the 2015 SAFTA for Best Short Film (Nommer 37) which, he co-wrote and co-directed.

Travis is a producer on the popular local soap drama, Suidooster, which has already aired over 1500 episodes on broadcast television as well as a principal director and writer on the hit Netflix series, Blood & Water which, is already on its 3rd season.

Travis’s debut feature film, Indemnity, is a breakneck South African action thriller which had its world premiere at the 25th edition of the Fantasia International Festival in Montreal, Canada, and will have its nationwide cinematic release in South Africa on the 13th of May.

Q & A with Travis:

Can you tell us a little about Indemnity? 

INDEMNITY is a South African action thriller and one of the biggest action films to ever come out of South Africa. It’s about a fireman named Theo Abrams, who suffers from severe PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) because of a failed rescue mission in which, he was inadvertently responsible for the death of some of his comrades. The result of which, sees his life deteriorating. He’s lost his job, taken to the bottle, and his relationships with his wife and son are deteriorating.

Then, one morning he wakes up next to his wife’s dead body. She’s been murdered and all signs point to him having done it. But Theo has no recollection of the event and soon escapes police custody, going on the run to try and find out who, if not he, was responsible for her death; and in the process, comes to grips with his own trauma.  

If you could give some advice to someone starting their career, what would it be?  

This industry is tough, and you’re going to encounter a lot of ‘no’s.’ But perseverance is key. You have to be willing to put the 10 000 hours in, continue honing your craft wherever possible and be strategic about the opportunities that are available to young filmmakers.

Remember, all you need is one ‘yes’ and while you work towards that eventuality, keep making films at every opportunity, whether they’re short films, tv pilots, or commercials because it’s only through continuously doing that you’ll learn and grow as a filmmaker. 

I don’t believe in failure, only in learning and understanding what could be better for the next project. Every experience has value and people often forget that. 

Where was this film made? 

INDEMNITY was shot completely in Cape Town, in various locations across the city.  

What is your favourite thing about this movie? 

I love that it is an extremely ambitious film and one that South Africans can be proud of. It has multiple, relentless action sequences that make it feel like it could hold its own next to any international action title. But the thing I love the most about Indemnity is that despite its sheer scale and ambition when it comes to action, this is very much a film grounded by character.

It is simply about a man suffering from mental health issues, something far too many people are unwilling to have an open and honest conversation about. I hope this film reflects that and enables people to recognize a part of themselves in Theo, and hopefully encourages them to change their attitudes about the way we deal with mental health. 

What is the most challenging thing about being a director? 

The most challenging thing about being a director is also the thing I love the most about it. You are involved in and responsible for every single creative decision in the making of any film which, can be quite taxing. So, you have to learn to manage and delegate to a team of creative HODs and bring the best out in them so that they can help you bring your vision to life.

It’s a fascinating process that is very much a team effort. Your job is simply to lead the team in the most effective way possible. It’s a process that enables you to continuously learn and grow from other creatives which, in the past, changes my perception of the way one sees the world.  

How do you feel about the state of the film industry in South Africa? 

I am extremely excited about where the film industry is heading. There is a ‘new wave’ of exciting and extremely talented filmmakers who are pushing boundaries, breaking barriers and changing the way people perceive or think about films coming from South Africa. The world has changed quite a lot since Covid, and streamers have changed the game when it comes to the way we view and have access to content. Hollywood is no longer the centre of the universe.

People are hungry for stories from all around the world; and with our rich history and culture, combined with the talented storytellers across the country, I am most excited about the kinds of stories we are going to see coming out of the continent in the very near future.  

What do you love about Cape Town? 

Cape Town is home, so I am always going to be biased toward it. But what I love about this incredibly beautiful city is the fact that you can drive 45 minutes in any direction is end up in a completely different landscape with ever-changing topography.

You’ve got the ocean, mountain, winelands, and everything in between, all within a quick drive from one to the other – a rarity in most major cities around the globe. Cape Town is extremely diverse with so much exciting culture and entertainment, not to mention sunshine and beaches for days.  

Read more Behind the Scenes here

FAME Week Africa

FAME Week Africa

FWA Connect bringing the Film, Arts, Media and Entertainment sector together by providing creative industry professionals on the African continent with news, trends and in-depth articles.

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