International Producers of Film & Television keep a watchful eye on local talent



Cape Town’s award-winning Pressure Cooker Studios showcases how international producers of both movies and television keep a watchful eye on South African talent to possibly provide a soundtrack that will have the maximum impact on audiences for what they have managed to capture on film.

Now celebrating their fourth year of success, Pressure Cooker Studios has worked on projects that included Hollywood stars such as Paul Walker, television productions seen worldwide and ranked at number one on selected channels, worked with Hollywood producer Peter Safron, composed soundtracks released with Universal Music, produced albums for recording artists that enjoyed number one hits on radio stations nationally, and much more.

Pressure Cooker Studios was nominated for a 2014 SAFTA Award for Sound Design on the feature film Sleeper’s Wake, based on the best-selling novel by Alistair Morgan.

Pressure Cooker Studios also worked on the animated series Supa Strikas for more than a year – a television show that is currently being broadcast in over 35 countries worldwide. “It was an incredibly exciting, challenging and rewarding project. The show is now enjoying the number one spot on the Disney channel and feedback received about the show has been awesome. We’re looking forward to hopefully working with the team again for the next season,” says James Matthes, co-founder and composer at Pressure Cooker Studios.

Matthes says that despite their success, they continue to learn more on a daily basis, stating: “One of the most important lessons we’ve learnt is that being good simply isn’t good enough. Knowing your craft isn’t going to make you a success. We’ve had to spend a lot of time not doing what we love in order to do what we actually enjoy. This included research, networking and marketing the business. Talent isn’t good enough – you have to have business sense and be able to connect and work with people. It’s also important to know when to say no, despite being passionate. It’s important to know your own worth and stand up for it! Respect stems from being in demand and providing individuals that people trust, and where they know that they’re paying a fair price for work that surpasses expectations,” he says.

According to Matthes, Pressure Cooker Studios prides itself on the fact that they have multi-genre composers. He states: “We have a taste for all the flavours in the musical world and understand how it affects people emotionally. At the heart of it all we’re all storytellers. By doing what we do, we enhance the picture by blending styles and genres in an interesting and natural way. We’re also reasonably young, with an average age of 30, which means that we’re at the perfect age to ensure a maturity in our music, allowing us to compete with the older establishments in the industry – but yet still young enough to have a finger on the pulse of what’s fresh and hip.”

The Pressure Cooker Studios team believes that what sets them apart from competitors is their openness for collaboration. “We love other people’s input and criticism. It makes you better at what you do and results in a better end product. If you look at big players in our industry like Hans Zimmer, he is where he is because he collaborates with other people to make the best movie soundtracks. We implement the same strategy. People in this industry need to work together in order to raise the quality of what is delivered – that will enable the local industry to be seen and heard, and therefore compete more, on the international stage,” says Matthes.

In addition to their current services, Pressure Cooker Studios is also in the process of setting up an online music library. Matthes explains: “It’s aimed at the entire media industry. It’s customisable tracks available for the price tag of library music. Normally the music available for this is static because it doesn’t complement, support and move to the picture, but what we’ll be offering certainly surpasses what is available. We are very excited about this!”

Pressure Cooker Studios has recently worked on the Democratic Alliance 2014 Election Campaign, composed the music for the Australian produced commercial TAB – Upping the Game TVC, composed music for Google Africa Connected, produced the SAMA 2013 winning Iscream Chocolate Stix album, and more.

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