American cable television network, ESPN Television, recently utilised several locations around the Johannesburg area for the shooting of an element of the ESPY Awards. These annual sports awards, which started in 1993 and are known as the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards, are for individual and team athletic achievement and other sports-related performance during the calendar year preceding a given ceremony.

As the similarly-styled Grammy (for music), Emmy (for television), and Academy Awards (for film), the ESPYs are hosted by a contemporary celebrity; the style, though, is more relaxed, light, and self-referential than that of many other awards shows, with comedic sketches usually included.

From their inception until 2004, the awards were chosen variously through voting by fans, sportswriters, broadcasters, sports executives, and sportspersons or ESPN personalities. Since then, award winners have been selected exclusively through online fan balloting conducted from among candidates selected by the ESPY Select Nominating Committee.

Commenting on shooting in South Africa, an ESPN representative told In Focus: "We are in the process of preparing for the ESPY Awards. This is an annual awards show, produced and broadcast on ESPN which celebrates all the greatest moments, athletes and personalities in sports over the previous year. The highlight of the evening, and the most prestigious award, is called the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.

"Each year, one person is chosen to receive the Arthur Ashe Award. It is a person who, through sport, has made positive changes in the world. This year's recipient is Nelson Mandela and he has graciously agreed to accept. We are working closely with his foundation as we move forward with this process."

The representative explained that the focus of their story will be the events surrounding the 1995 Rugby World Cup. "The strength and wisdom to bring the World Cup to South Africa and to root for the Springboks is something many newly elected Presidents would never have dared. The courage Mr Mandela displayed in his quest to bring his beloved nation together behind the Springboks and the glorious outcome of that story are the events we will detail in our film."

Locations used included Coca-Cola Park (formerly Ellis Park Stadium), The Apartheid Museum, Soweto (Mandela's first Joburg home and The Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre and Library) and scenic shots of Johannesburg which included the Nelson Mandela Bridge, Nelson Mandela Square & Statue, Gandhi Square, exteriors of Mr Mandela's residence in Houghton, as well as an aerial shot of the city.

Director of Photography was Scott Duncan and the Assistant DP was Michael Koepke.
The location consultant was Hessam Binesh of Clockwork Zoo in Cape Town.

The ESPN representative concluded: "It is with the utmost care and respect that we approach this topic. Obviously Mr Mandela is a figure who transcends national boundaries and politics and is a beacon of light and hope to millions around the world.

"We are making every effort to shine a light on his already luminous legacy of reconciliation in the face of anger, and peace in the face of violence. Any requests we make for our project and any actions we take while we are shooting in South Africa will reflect this care and concern for Mr. Mandela."