The Best And Worst Of Us

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Jasyn Howes

Is there a particular documentary film or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

Kevin MacDonald


What motivated you to make this film?

I found Armand Hough on Instagram and was so inspired by his coverage of the Lockdown in Cape Town and what he was revealing to his social media following about the reality of what was going on outside whilst we were all locked down indoors. I also found his sense of morality so inspiring and he using his social media as a tool for change and making an impact on those he met during that time.


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

We shot on the Sony FX9 with a Sigma 18-35mm Cine Zoom lens. Everything was shot handheld as we wanted to keep it simple, lightweight and relatively intimate. We were going into hostile spaces and sensitive spaces and wanted to have the smallest footprint possible.


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your film to help tell your story. 

I was very interested in utilising mobile phone footage to bring to life certain key events that we weren’t able to capture ourselves. This served the story both functionally and stylistically and it brought a strong sense of reality to the film as it was largely how we were consuming media during the lockdown. Our phones became windows into the outside world more so than ever before so it was important for me to work with that “limitation”.


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

The evolution was mainly my central character and the raw emotion he brought to the piece. Prior to contacting him I was not aware that he was in fact filming a lot of what he was up to during that time on his mobile phone. When he gave me access to the reams of footage he had been collecting I was surprised to find some incredibly tender and heartfelt moments that he never really intended to be seen by an audience. This brought such a richness to the story and it proved to be more of a collaboration of visual storytellers than merely me filming him to tell his story.


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this film. 

Understanding how immensely lucky I was to not only meet the inspiring people who were on the front lines of their communities spending each day helping those around them but also coming to terms with my privilege. I, like so many like me, am incredibly fortunate in comparison to the poor people I met along the way. Their struggle was so far removed from my own and I gained immense respect and admiration for the tenacity with which they confronted their day to day lives during that very difficult time.


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Understand that you are making a difference with your films and you are using your creativity to tell meaningful stories that can change perspectives for the good. When times get tough and doubt creeps in, remember what you are doing is special and it’s rooted in reality and that having the courage to tell these stories and expose yourself to these realities is important work and something to be proud of. KEEP PUSHING!


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

I love being on the ground capturing the story. All the preparation goes out the window and it’s more about being in the moment and embracing what is rather than what could be.


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why? 

A broad rim hat.


Please share a personal story about your experience making this film.

On our last shoot day we ended up at a tidal pool with our lead character at sunset. We never intended to be, we were driving past and decided to check it out. I needed a closing statement from him and as we got onto the beach near the tidal pool the sun was setting and there wasn’t a breath of wind. The pool became this mirror image of the pink sky and we just rejoiced at the beauty of what we had stumbled upon. It was a special moment and, funny enough, we never used the stuff we shot there but it definitely brought us closer together as people.


Can you describe any obstacles you encountered in making your film and/or in your distribution/exhibition efforts?

There was a lot of footage to work with, especially mobile phone footage taken by the central character. Working through all of that was challenging and having to make decisions on what to include and what not to include was very hard. It was a solid lesson in understanding what serves the story especially in short format.


What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

For international audiences I would like them to be exposed to the realities faced by the majority of South African people during this unprecedented time. I hope it inspires them to help others in need, to better appreciate their own circumstances and to shed light on the gross inequalities in my country.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

Using mobile phone footage in documentary filmmaking.
Collaborating with a central character and how that can enrich the content.
The importance of perspective on key events and how that can shape the narrative.
Deconstructing documentary format and taking more of a conversational approach to interviews.


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the film. How have things changed or not changed?

The central characters continue to cover stories for the independent media as lockdown continues in South Africa.
The poor communities are able to go back to work but many jobs have been lost and so feeding schemes are still very necessary.
The man whose car was burnt down for feeding the homeless has turned the car into a mobile mural piece and started an initiative to educate people on the importance of helping other and tolerance for those around you.


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

There are numerous NGOs and initiatives in place that are always in need of additional funding and donation to assist those in need. COVID-19 has exposed the poorest in South Africa to a much harder set of circumstances and their need for help is dire. By donating to key initiatives aid is given to those in need in the form of food, clothing and shelter.


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.):

You can visit the following links to assist with feeding schemes and donations:



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