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Videographer Julie Brondeel: Hold Your Own From South Africa

Listen on: Spotify | Apple | Google | Breaker | Overcast | Radio Public | Pocket Cast | Stitcher

This podcast celebrates Julie Brondeel's journey as a videographer and content creator. She is from Belgium—currently working as a Brand and Content Coordinator for Jack Black Brewing Company in Cape Town.

I came across Julie's video of Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest, winner of the Ted Hughes Award for Brand New Ancients and widely regarded as the UK's leading spoken word poet. Hold Your Own is a riveting tale of youth and experience, sex and love, wealth and poverty, community and alienation.

The result is a rhythmically hypnotic tour de force—and a hugely ambitious leap forward for one of the most broadly talented and compelling young writers today.

Social Media Profiles:

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Topics Discussed:

  • Tell us about Cape Town.
  • Where are you surfing?
  • Have you been to J-bay?
  • Where did you surf in Europe?
  • You are also a musician—what kind of music do you play.
  • What do you shot with?
  • What does your process look like?
  • How do you pick the music?
  • Hold Your Own
  • Be who you are in life?
  • French Video with piano.
  • Describe your first surfboard?
  • What is the best wave you have surfed?
  • Your favorite surf trip?
  • Did we miss anything?

Transcripts

Hello, Saltwater High. I wanted to welcome Julie from Cape Town to the podcast. Hello, Julie.

Hi. Hi. How are you?

I'm well, how are you? It's nine o'clock here. So it's the next day there, I think, right?

Uh, it's still November 3rd, but it's 7 PM here.

Right. Yeah, that's right. I was thinking you're in Asia, but no, you're in South Africa. Awesome. So tell us a little bit about your story. How does a Belgian woman get to Cape Town, besides the language, and a lot of our listeners probably won't know the actual correlation between Africans and Dutch. So maybe you want to just kind of talk to them about that a little bit, too?

Well, actually, I ended up in Cape Town I was coming here on a holiday and in 2014, long time ago. And I actually came here on a surf trip with a friend for three weeks. And we just kind of traveled around from Cape Town to the garden route, along the garden route up to Jeffreys Bay. And it was so amazing that I really wanted to stay. And then, yeah, I ran into a Belgian guy who lived here in Cape Town, and he's like a friend of a friend. And then he said, "Why don't you just apply for a job at the company I work for? Because they hire Dutch-speaking people." And I was like, "Yes, let's do that." So then I applied. And then six months later, I moved to Cape Town and here I am.

So you went back home after the surf trip and then applied for the job and then came back to Cape Town?

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It took a bit to get the work visa, but yeah, it was so awesome to move here by myself. I didn't really know what to expect.

Yeah. Cape Town, I've traveled quite a bit in the world and I have to say Cape Town's probably my top three places on the planet. It's such an incredible, it's where two oceans meet, right? It's the end of this continent. There's something about Cape Town that it's hard to describe if you've never been there. But once you've been there, you understand, right?

Yeah.

It's fantastic.

It's so amazing. It has so much to offer. I just spoke about it with a friend the other day that you can do everything in one day. You can go hike in the morning and surf in the afternoon and go taste wine after that. There's just so much to do here. It's incredible.

Yeah. So one of my best friends actually lives in Cape Town. He's the one that sent me the video originally, which, so well you can talk about that later. Where are you surfing in Cape Town mainly?

Like in the last four years or five years I've been here or?

Just like when you're in the city, right, because there's so many people don't understand. Cape Town is you've got a lot of different facing beaches depending on, like Long Beach and then there's some other. I wouldn't even know how to count how many different waves there are within probably twenty miles.

Yeah, it gets confusing in the beginning.

There must be a hundred or so. It's incredible. So what's your kind of go-to or do you venture out and go anywhere that the swell kind of dictates?

My home spot has been different lately. It used to be on the West Coast in Big Bay and Blouberg. That used to be kind of my go-to spot because it was right on my flat so I could just get in my wetsuit and cross the road and go in the water, which was oh, so amazing. The morning sessions I've had there in winter is breathtakingly beautiful and dolphins and I think it's still my favorite spot until today because not many people know the spot, so it's not as crowded and people seem to overlook that surf spot. So it's the perfect little place to go for a surf. But nowadays I go mostly to Muizenberg because I stay in town now. So Muizenberg is kind of easier for me to go have a surf.

Yeah. Nice. Do you ever go out to like the Bay Area? I think that's where the big wave is, right?

Oh yeah. I've never been there. I've always wanted to go in a boat and check out the big waves, but I'm not really a big wave surfer.

Yeah, yeah, that's okay. That's awesome. So how is Cape Town been during the lockdown? Because you guys were on a pretty extensive lockdown for 30 days, I think.

Yeah, it was hectic. I think we were the most strict lockdowns in the world and the longest one. But it was hard and especially because we weren't allowed to even go outside for a walk. So we couldn't even go out for walks or anything like that. It was literally to the shop and back and only one person at a time was allowed to go out. So that was kind of emotionally draining. But luckily, I was able to work throughout lockdown. So I wasn't unemployed or anything like that. I didn't lose my job, which I'm very, very fortunate about. But emotionally, it was very challenging for like six weeks or so.

Wow. And my friend Simon said they didn't sell any alcohol either, which must have been really hard on a lot of people.

Yeah, I work in that industry, so it was hard to be super creative, like okay, how are we going to now talk about alcohol online? Because it's around the content creation around on the Instagram and Facebook. So I had to be very creative there.

Yeah. So what did you talk about, like what it's going to be like after it's over?

Yeah. We just kind of worked with the idea that hopefully, people stocked up. And then we did it kind of like a beer inbound competition, like go on an adventure in your house with your beer or something. And we got some really sweet content out of that. So it was actually really cool, yeah.

That's awesome. So I assume you started surfing when you were at home in Europe?

Yeah, I learned to surf in Spain actually.

Oh wow.

When I was like eighteen, yeah.

Awesome. Awesome. Yeah. I love surfing in Europe. I spent a lot of time in southern France on the western like the Hossegor area.

Oh yeah.

And Bordeaux and I lived in Spain for a couple of years, too. There's really good surf in Spain, but the Spanish tend to be a little aggressive in the water sometimes.

Yeah.

I found the French a lot nicer. Yeah, so I want to talk about your--I just fell in love with the video you made, "Hold your own". And I looked at some of your other videography and I just think you are so talented.

Thank you.

I had known the writer, I had heard about the writer, but I had never seen that poem before. And I'm like a strong surfer man. I think I came to tears when I saw what you did with that video. And obviously, the poem itself is so powerful. But the way that you well, the magic that you sprinkled into that poem with your images. And I know it's not a surfing video, but you have shots in that video that only a surfer could take and could know where to put if you know what I mean.

Yeah.

And just talk to me a little bit about that video and what you were thinking and what you were feeling and the process maybe a little bit.

Yeah. So I made that video in lockdown. So emotionally, I was already quite vulnerable. And it was funny because I had a hard drive that broke. I couldn't access the content anymore. And then that one morning I was like, let me try one more time just to see if I can make it work. And then I could access it out of nowhere. I could access all the content that I've been shooting in Cape Town and in Belgium of my family and of surfing in Jeffreys Bay, and all those places I went. And I just felt like, man, I need to use this content. I need to kind of tell a story of how I feel right now and how all these memories that I've collected mean so much to me. And I immediately thought of the poem from Kate that I'm using. And I just instantly felt that connection, that it speaks to the footage. So I just started playing around. And I think in that same day, I had a video ready.

Wow, wow. You put that thing together in one day. That's incredible.

Yeah.

That's really incredible. And what equipment do you use or what do you like when you shoot? What are you shooting with?

I'm using a DJI Mavic Pro drone, and then I'm using a Sony A6500 that I film with. It's such a small awesome little mirrorless camera that I use all the time.

Yeah, what's the number again? Sony 65?

Sony A6500.

Yeah, that's a great camera. I love that. And the other thing I noticed about your work, which I think is very unique, is the music that you choose. Then I was like, "Wow, how does she get all this great music?" And then I saw that you're actually a musician also. So I thought, "Oh, that makes sense." Right?

Yeah.

When you're picking the music, what's the process like? Do you sometimes pick the music first or do you pick the music later? Yeah, just kind of walk me through that process artistically.

It depends a little bit from time to time. Sometimes I'll find a song and it will just catch me off guard or it will impress me so much that I can immediately know what kind of footage would match that, or I would think, "Oh, I have this archive footage I never used. It would work so well with this." But if I would go out and shoot for a client or for a friend, then I'll just kind of go with the flow. And once I look at all the footage, I'll be able to just kind of, yeah, look around for ideas. But it's hard to explain, but it kind of depends on the mood and the mood I'm trying to tell through footage, yeah.

Sometimes I wonder if does the feeling come before the expression or does the feeling come out of the expression, right?

Yeah.

As an artist. And it probably changes to on the piece and on how you're feeling or where you're at in your life.

Totally.

Yeah.

Yeah. Sometimes you think I'm going to make a super up-tempo crazy edit but then I'm editing I'm like actually it would be nice to make it more like an emotional, softer, lighter kind of video. Not as to impress with all these transitions and stuff, so it kind of depends once I'm looking at everything how I will edit.

Yeah. Tell me a little bit about being a musician and how that came about, and I listen to one of the songs I really like. The one you had with kind of the older footage or she ran it through a filter or something that looked like it was from a film camera.

Oh yeah, I think that one's on my Instagram somewhere.

Yeah, your YouTube, I think I saw it on.

Oh yeah.

It's "Mess". That's it.

Yes. Yes.

The song "Mess". Yeah, I really love that.

Oh, thank you.

So were you a musician before you were a videographer or was that something that kind of?

Yeah, it kind of started with I always enjoyed writing as a kid. And then I think when I was 13 or 14, I just started to play guitar, went for lessons and I think I did like four years of music theory, and then I just kind of kept playing guitar and started songwriting. And actually, since I moved to Cape Town, I haven't been as active in the songwriting, I haven't been writing as much. But that came before all the videography and photography. So kind of started with music, it's like the original one.

Yeah, that's interesting. I think a lot of people that are artistic, they have a lot of different expressions, right? Like I paint and I make surfboards and I have these businesses and each one of them, though there are different kind of movement, it's still myself in them, right. It's like I'm addicted to creating. And I think a lot of artists probably feel that. And some of my friends are like, "Well, why don't you double down on one thing?" I was like, "I can't. It's not me."

Yeah, the same problem. I think about that a lot, like why can't I focus on one thing at a time? But I just can't. There's so many options to express yourself and sometimes it can be overwhelming because you have all these options to like am I going to play music today and write some songs, or am I going to go out and shoot stuff or am I going to go surf all day? There's so many ways.

Yeah. I usually lean on the surf all day part.

Yeah, I would love that right now.

Not always. Yeah, that's amazing. And I saw another video that you had of your trip to France with a piano on the beach. Was that actual piano on the beach or was that some like green screen?

No, no. It was so random. We went to France for the week, like a long weekend a couple years ago. And it was..what's the beach called..you can take a ferry to go to the UK. Very bright, sunny day. You can even see the UK, the cliffs on the UK.

Ah Normandy, maybe. in the north.

Yeah. I think it's Normandy. And just yeah, it was a sunset and we walked down to the beach and there was this random piano there. So it was so, so weird. And yeah. And we're like, "Do you think it's washed on the beach? Do you think someone put it here, like on purpose? Is this a scientific experiment?" Yeah, but it was so cool, so random.

So there's nobody around, you're walking down the beach and you see this piano?

Yeah.

I'm like, "What the hell?" I saw that and I was like, "Is this thing all staged?" I thought it was either staged or green screen.

Yeah. No, it wasn't.

I guess that teaches you that you always have to have your camera with you, number one. And just be ready to, I'm sure a lot of times you'll just take footage and don't even know what you're going to do with it. And then eventually you're like, "Oh yeah, I'm going to use the time I walked on the beach and I saw that the piano." Right?

Yeah. I've been doing that more and more lately to just take the camera with and just shoot anything. I think someone told me recently it's called C-Roll. Like you just capture moments. You don't plan it, you don't think about it, you just shoot whatever you think is a beautiful frame and then use it for later. Yeah.

And are you using some kind of gimbal or tripod when you're say, walking around doing shooting, or what's your thought process?

It's mostly hand-held because I feel sometimes a gimbal it stops you from really moving the camera how you want to move it or how you want to kind of create that movement, I guess. But a gimbal is I'll use it every now and then. But I'm not a big fan. Maybe I'm using the wrong gimbal. I don't know. It's so hard to set up.

Yeah, yeah. I have one for my iPhone that I like, but that's kind of a different story.

Yeah. That's touch and go.

Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So do you have any advice to people that want to get into videography or just start shooting more? That sort of thing. Like myself.

I don't know. I think just start and start doing it. When I first started doing video, I used this really, really old camera from my mom and dad, like you know the ones where the lens comes out when you switch it on? Like those really old school.

Oh yeah. Oh right. Yeah.

Really old school one. So I used that and I use the cheapest Windows Media Player. It had like an editor on Windows. So you just start with what you have and your gear doesn't matter. It's about being creative and just trying things. And then as soon as you feel like you've been inspired by creating videos, you'll maybe do a bit more effort to go out there more and maybe even invest in a bigger camera or a better camera. But in the end, it's not much about that. You can even start filming with your phone nowadays. The new iPhone has a ridiculously good camera. So, yeah, I think it's about just being open to trial and error, I guess.

Yeah, just like life, right?

Exactly.

And what do you think about the editing process? How much of the art do you think is in the editing?

Editing is so hard. I think it's the hardest part of the whole process. You can have the most amazing footage, but ruin it by over-editing or putting in way too many effects and stuff like that. So it really takes a lot of practice to make something look good and use the right music and the right tone, the right pace, and all those things.

Yeah. It seems like amateur videographers probably try to use too many of the functions, right? Too many transitions and fades and sparklings.

Yeah, I have been there.

Yeah.

That's how you learn, I guess.

Yeah, for sure. I just finished this or I'm almost finished with this course by Seth Godin. He's a famous marketer here in America.

I've heard of him actually.

Yeah. It's been a great course. I've been writing pretty much most of the course. And one of the things that he says is a lot of good writing is about what you delete. It's the things that you take away, not the things that you leave on the paper.

Wow, that's a good insight. That's the truth.

Yeah, it's true with a lot of things. But that's awesome, that's great. So do you have any big projects on the horizon or are you working on anything in particular?

I'm actually trying to work out a little personal project. I would really love to kind of create a short film about my anxiety and the whole mental health of in general, in the world, how it's like people talked a little about it. So I wanted to create a little artistic piece about it. So I've been looking for actresses and other people to kind of help me create the whole film. But that's a project that I'm working on right now. But besides that, I've actually started creating music, too, so my mind has been busy with that. Yeah.

I think that's beautiful. So much of what I see in the world is hiding the real difficulties that we're all facing, right? It's just everything's fine, it's going to be looking towards the future. But the future, when the future comes, it's still going to be filled with anxiety. It'll just shift from COVID to finances or health or self-image or whatever it is, right?

Yeah.

I love that idea. Have you looked at meditation at all?

Yeah. I've been doing meditation with this one app. What is it called, I think it's--I can't think of it, but it has like an orange circle, like a little orange circle. Can't think of the name. I think it's called Headspace actually.

Headspace. Yeah, that's a popular one here in America.

It's a really nice app. I really enjoy that one. And I feel like yoga also helps a lot. I've been trying to do yoga every day. So those two things. And surfing is probably my biggest help when it comes to just releasing stress and anxious anxiety. It's a big help.

Yeah. What do you, if you don't want to go there, that's fine but where do you find your anxiety? What's influencing it mainly? Is it the environment? Is it just kind of your internal compass that's getting confused?

Yeah, it's mainly that. But also just society can be heavy sometimes and it puts pressure on you and it can be very stressful to always trying to, always wanting to control everything that happens around you, but you can't, obviously.

Yeah.

But that creates anxiety every now and then like you want to control it but you can't. Yeah, that's the hardest part.

Yeah. That's what I loved about "Hold your own", right, is the poem, I think for me maybe why it touched me so much is because it talked about how society or life, in general, has a certain you're caught in this kind of common river, trend, or..

Like an autopilot.

Yeah, exactly. And that poem was like, no, find your own voice. Hold your own line, hold your own thought, hold your own beliefs, whatever it is. I feel most people and then I was like this for a long time, I just kind of accepted things the way they were. And that you're accepting other people's view of what it is to live. A part of the reason I started Wave Tribe was because I saw a different like nobody was talking about ecology and surfing. I was like, "Wait a second, we're surfers, right? We should be buying gear that has a lighter footprint and we should be learning about how to preserve the ocean, and we should be thinking about how we're using plastics."

Yeah.

I'm happy to say that in the last couple of years, I've seen a huge turn in society, in general. But when we started back in 2008, 2007, nobody was talking about this, right?

Right, no.

So I feel there's a lot of positivity that I'm seeing, which is great. We need more of it, right?

Yeah. There's so many organizations here too that really look after our beaches and our oceans and it just makes me really happy to see a change. I feel a change coming as well. And more people being aware of what we consume and how much we consume and what we can avoid and how we can basically make a difference for a better, more sustainable future, actually.

Absolutely. I'm with you. Yeah, amazing. So do you remember your first surfboard and describe it to me if you do?

Oh man, it was a totally wrong board.

Yeah, I think for all of us. Our first surfboards were like, yeah.

I think the main reason I bought it was because the tail pad had, oh what they call it, is it tail pad?

Yeah, tail pad.

It was a French flag and I thought it looked really cool so that's the main reason why I bought that board.

That's amazing.

It's such a stupid reason. But I think it was a 7, no, it wasn't even, it was shorter. It was like a 6'6, I think. But it looked like a big shortboard. I think it almost had a little bit of, looks like a gun in a way, but a small gun. It was actually a really weird shape. And it made me feel like I really sucked. The boards I had learned to surf on was obviously longboards, but I thought, "Oh no, I could go for a shorter board, obviously." Yeah.

Right. And did you have a friend talk you into it or was it like you saw in a shop and you saw that tail pad you're like, "Oh, I'm going to get that one."

Yeah, I think my friend said, "You'll be fine. It looks like it has quite some volume and you'll be totally fine." But I didn't enjoy it at all. So I think the summer after that I sold it and then I went on a surf trip again to Spain and then I just surfed a longboard every day there and then I realized I actually enjoy longboards more so and I'm sticking to that still.

Awesome. Yeah, sticking to that story.

Yeah.

So speaking of waves, what's the best wave you've ever surfed?

I think it's either Cape St. Francis, if you've been there. There's this one, it's not Bruce's Beauties, but it's the one right next to it, it's called Hullets. It's a really, really fun wave, I think. And sometimes it feels like it just goes on forever. But I really enjoyed Jeffreys Bay as well on a smaller day. It's so, so good.

Is the wave in "Hold your own", the shot in the beginning, is that Jeffreys Bay?

Yeah, that was in like 2018 when they did the WSL for women. That was the first one they did again after quite a while.

Yeah.

So it was amazing to be there. I've never been to WSL surf comp so it was so cool to see.

Yeah. That wave is magic. I grew up dreaming about that. There are a couple of waves as a California kid, we have so many good waves here, I grew up in California, but Endless Summer, when they showed that wave, I was like, I'm going there. I don't know when. I don't know what it's going to take. And anybody out there that has never been to South Africa, you put that on your list and go surf Jeffreys Bay because that wave is yeah, it's magic. The whole place is magic, just the whole area.

It's my favorite place in South Africa, I think. It's just so amazing.

Yeah, it's incredible. I almost died there many times, but it was worth it. It was definitely worth it. So your favorite surf trip?

Yeah, my favorite surf trip.

You're probably on it right now.

Yeah, actually. I think my favorite surf trip was the one I did here, the three weeks one up the coast to Jeffreys Bay. I think that's still my favorite surf trip.

Nice.

Yeah.

Nice.

Best time.

Yeah, that's a great one. I drove up to Durban from Cape Town on one trip and surfed Coffee Bay and yeah, that was a long trip, but I definitely recommend that one also.

I still want to go that side. I haven't really been to like the upper coast. I've done the Wild Coast, but I didn't surf there, unfortunately. Because I was there on offseason. So it was super, super windy, but I would love to go there sometime.

Awesome. Great. Did we miss anything? Is there anything else you'd like to say or?

Um, no.

Yeah. I'm so happy we got to do this. I just looked at, you released that video six months ago, which is incredible.

Wow.

I know. Because I looked at it again this morning and I just want to thank you for putting that together and for your expression. It really super touched me very deeply and thanks for sharing what you're doing, and I just want to encourage you. I think you are super talented and I would love to see more from you. And I have a couple of ideas for maybe to do something with Wave Tribe, too. And we can talk about that offline. And I have a friend that has a clothing company in Cape Town.

Oh wow.

And I'm going to put you two together, too. I think you'd be a great fit to do something for them. So, yeah.

That would be awesome. Thank you so much.

I just want to encourage you to keep putting stuff out there and tell your story, too. I saw some of your videos on YouTube where you were you were telling some of your struggles. And I think, yeah, I think the world needs to hear more from you.

Yeah, that's really nice of you. Thank you. I'm planning to.

Yeah, good. Do it. Okay, thank you so much.

Thank you so much. It's so nice to talk to you.

You too, Julie.

Cheers.

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