Lisa Chait and her team will help you produce superb TV, online, mobile, radio and written content. Our clients are: Corporates, TV channels & stations, radio stations, NGO’s/civil sector organisations and private clients. We will will help you get powerful messages out to engaged audiences. About Team Leader, Content Producer Lisa Chait: Lisa trained as a history teacher and journalist. She is an award winning TV series, documentary and online content producer, scriptwriter and show host/presenter. Lisa is the founder of the unique family history/archive project Life Stories. She is co-producer of the award winning South African TV and online series ‘I Am Woman Leap of Faith’ and producer of season 2 & 3 of the United Nations Development Programme/Regency Foundation Networx TV series ‘It’s Africa’s Time’ for Bloomberg TV worldwide and online. Lisa spent 6 years working in music radio as a newsreader, producer and show host, then 10 years working as a radio talk show host and radio content producer before expanding into TV, online and mobile content production and founding her Life Stories Project for private clients in South Africa and internationally. Lisa works with only the best South African and international crew. She and her local or international crews will seamlessly work with you anywhere in the world. Lisa is also a seasoned voice over artist, radio advertisement script writer, media trainer, MC and writer of all manner non-fiction content.
Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey so far.
I was born and brought up in Cape Town where I still live and am lucky enough to have great parents who are still together. There are four kids in our family, with two overseas and my sister Jodi and myself in Cape Town. I don’t have kids of my own (still hoping) but am an Aunty to 7, all of whom are the 8th great wonders of the world. My dad is the funniest man I know and my mom has always been a great inspiration. She was the editor of the Cape Jewish Chronicle for 26 years and is now dealing with retirement – which can’t be easy. She modelled for me an interest in life, history and a good story and has always been my sounding board, greatest critic and supporter. Go mom! It is a real gift to have someone in your life whose judgement you deeply trust. As I get older I become more and more appreciative of how my parents held our Jewishness as a strong part of our lives. Friday night suppers together still happen and although we are not religious per se, it’s thanks to them I am still strongly culturally identified with a clear sense of my people’s story, who I am and where I come from. Its so interesting how this seems to become so much stronger with age. It gives me a feeling of great depth and place and makes me much more open to meeting others in their cultural spaces and learning about their experience, beliefs and, especially, ancestry.
I studied at UCT and then taught History and Hebrew for a year at a local high school. Then my radio career began with stints at Good Hope FM as a newsreader and DJ and then at Cape Talk for 10 years as a talk show host. It was when I was at Good Hope FM that I lived on a tower each year for 8 days and nights at the V & A Waterfront to raise money for the prevention of child abuse. I read the news from my tent and broadcast pledges and challenges during regular crossings to the DJ’s back in the studio in Sea Point. I was not allowed to come down until I reached my fundraising target and had a rent a loo, a specially rigged shower and lots of lekker sponsored food. I became known as a ‘pole-sitter’ which, of course, elicited a lot of rude jokes. It was the best way in the world to raise money for such a need. It was an insane and amazing time. Such memories! I remember when Christo Wiese and his wife came to the top of the tower (a 10 meter high scaffold block really) to give me a cheque and she was wearing high heels. I was panicked that she might trip and fall over the edge. She didn’t.
You are busy with so many interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about that.
A year and a half ago I started the Life Stories Project – It’s a DVD/Audio CD and online family heritage project where I get my subjects to share their life stories on camera or sound recording for their families as a record for future generations, most of whom they will never meet. They say things like: ‘Hi, I am your great, great, great grandmother and you will never meet me but this is my story and this is where you come from.’ We include old photos and get them to talk about their parents and what they remember about their grandparents, taking the story way back into history. It’s a beautiful project and I have done 19 so far.
My current focus, alongside Life Stories, is also a joy. It’s a TV series called I Am Woman Leap of Faith, which I conceptualised and with director Llewlyn Roderick took to Plexus Films to produce. After almost 3 years of stops-starts the SABC green lighted it at the end of 2011 and we are now on air! We are producing 26 half hour documentaries looking at the transformative events and moments in women’s lives. We also include where they turned to for sustenance when the chips were down. The series airs at 09h00 on Sundays on SABC3 with a re-broadcast on Mondays on at 09h00. But its also an online project via our website. All episodes are uploaded for global viewing 1 hour after broadcast. We have people all over the world enjoying these South African, yet globally connecting stories. We started on 1st April 2012 and will be on air until August 2012. There is a chance that a second series might be commissioned (hold thumbs please) so that means I’ll be busy with that and Life Stories for the next while. This is exactly the type of work I love doing and I feel really blessed at the moment, although I have to constantly remind myself that it has taken bloody hard work to get things to where they are. I need to keep remembering that if I want to do what I love it’ll often mean that I’ll just have to create it myself from scratch and pull in the right people to create my teams.
What is it that you are passionate about?
Sharing stories and content that is of interest or something new for viewers, listeners or readers. Content that moves people into a deeper sense of self or understanding of the world. Communicating humanity and life’s journey and encouraging people to debate issues and talk about things they might not have previously. Other than that I have a soft spot for the bush and Mulderbosch Chardonnay.
Who or What has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
I think my mom has been a great influence. She is so responsive and a great person to talk to. I am also reminded of Tenzin Palmo, the Buddhist nun who lived solo in a cave on for 12 years and then just as elegantly transitioned back into ‘society’. Currently Lauren Groenewald from Plexus Films is a great mentor and influence. She has such an amazing touch and talent for producing beautiful content for TV. Her resilience phenomenal.
What is your personal “motto”?
Live your values not your emotions(not easy, but makes good sense).
What advice would you give your younger self?
Never lose your craziness. Never let the status quo decide. Don’t ever, ever forget who you are and what your unique gifts are, whatever you might think of yourself or whatever is happening. Also, “ watch your mind”.
Who or what is your inspiration and why?
I guess anybody who is not pretending. People who chart their path from a position of deep humanity. And funny people too.
Your favourite daily affirmation?
Well it’s not quite an affirmation, and certainly not something I say ever morning, but It goes something like: ‘OK, another day. I am responsible for creating my place in it. There will be things that I cannot control for sure. When these happen thank g-d I get the grace to work on my reaction. Viva that. Viva that we have this internal choice. We are essentially free.
Another thing … If I mess up with how I am in myself (which I do regularly) I can always come back for another go’.
Also: You can be scared and do things anyway.
Also: Remember that the long, often lonely, marathon of creating something does often bare fruit.
Your favourite quote
Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew. – Apollinaire
And, “When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night he checks his closet for Chuck Norris” :-).
Which book are you reading now?
We Have to Talk About Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver. I finally took it out from book club and cannot put it down. It’s not just the subject matter but also the magnificent way Shriver writes. Her astounding insight is such a pleasure.
Which book can you read over and over again?
‘Till We Have Faces’ by CS Lewis. The writing is so beautiful and the story so deeply touching. I couldn’t find it here in S.A. so when I was overseas I bought a bunch of copies and gave them to people. It’s a reworking of an ancient mythic tale told by an older, ugly sister. I am also an older sister, but hopefully not ugly.
Is there anything that Xtraordinary Women can do to assist you on your journey?
Sure. Watch I Am Woman Leap of Faith on SABC3 and post your feedback on our series website on the episode pages – and spread the word about Life Stories.