Old Park Station
The Old Park Station in Newtown, erected in 1897, is the location for a new Heroes Wear Red music video set in a post-apocalyptic world.

Andy Stead

The Newtown precinct in the Johannesburg inner city offers filmmakers a variety of visually exciting and historical settings for locations. Newtown landmarks such as Turbine Hall, the Electric Warehouse and the Market Theatre have long been popular locations for movies and commercials, and now Mannequin Pictures, a Johannesburg-based film and video production company, have chosen the precinct’s Old Park Station as their location for a new music video.

The name Newtown was adopted by city administrators in 1904 following the clearance of Brickfields and other multiracial slums in Johannesburg’s first forced removal. Situated west of Diagonal Street and beyond the borders of the original mining town, this racially diverse area incorporated parts of Brickfields, Aaron’s Yard and the Indian – or “Coolie” as it was known then – location.

The metal and glass shell of the original Park Station, erected in Johannesburg in 1897, now sits on its heavy reinforced concrete platform overlooking desolate vacant land where would-be truck drivers practise their parking and reversing skills. This elegant if rather neglected structure was designed in 1895 by Dutch architect Jacob Klinkhamer, who was commissioned by the South African government.

The station was manufactured in Rotterdam and re-erected at Park Halt (as Park Station was known at the time) between 1896 and 1897. In 1952, as part of the renewal of Park Station, the steel canopy was dismantled and re-erected in Kempton Park as a training centre for railway staff. Then in 1995 the old structure was once again dismantled and re-erected in Newtown.

It is hoped that the structure will eventually form part of a railway museum, but in the meantime it provides the perfect backdrop for Mannequin’s music video for the song Bring me Love by Heroes Wear Red.

Watch the video:

“We chose Old Park station as it is such a great location,” says Kyle Ambrose, who with Kwela Mandela and later Delon Bakker established Mannequin Pictures in 2005. “Each space has a great deal of character and this makes the production design element really come alive.”

Based at the Design Quarter in Fourways, Mannequin Pictures works to produce chic, bohemian and alternative film projects. They have been involved in a total of 23 film productions, including international features.

“There are essentially two companies,” says Ambrose. “Mannequin Films deals with production services including facilitating foreign productions shooting in the Southern African region, while Mannequin Pictures is the production branch of the group and specialises in film, commercials and music videos.”

Mannequin Pictures has shot various music videos, the most recent being for local R&B sensation Leanne and Nigerian superstar Faze. For the Heroes Wear Red video, they sent in a concept and treatment to the MK Netwerk channel on DSTV who selected it as one of 10 production companies and bands.

which maintained the number one position on radio station 5FM’s Vodafone Hi5@5 for seven consecutive weeks.

“The video was shot over one long day, on the Red Mysterium X camera,” says Ambrose. “The post-production was completed at the Mannequin post production suites, and was produced by Bakker and myself. The director was Matthew Jankess, the DOP Shaun Lee and art direction was by Sara Payne. The SFX makeup was by Kate Blackman.”

The song Bring me Love is set in a post-apocalyptic future where two “nuclear Kids” meet and encounter the feeling of love for the first time. As the concept behind the song is the search for love, director Jankess wanted to take the concept further than the literal sense and build it around love being the natural order of things and that without it the natural order is upset, erratic and backwards.

“The production team consists of extremely skilled industry professionals who will ensure the highest quality, productivity and respect towards the production on hand,” says Ambrose. “They specialise in bringing ideas to life by customising the concept or if needs be creating a tailor made concept.

“The location was perfect and added to the dramatic nature of the song and the video.

“The Gauteng film Commission were really great,” he adds, “always quick to assist and get you to the relevant person in your search for information when shooting in Johannesburg.”

The music video was flighted exclusively on MK on DSTV and was screened on 17 November 2010.