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Graham “Dingo” Dinkelman has Broken the Net! His series of seven videos netted a whopping 65 000 views, making him the winner inCell C and Blink Pictures #BreakTheNet (#BTN) competition.
Along with the title of South Africa’s next YouTube Sensation, Graham, 36 from Hillcrest Durban won himself a trip to Hollywood and R250 000 in cash.
The Life and Investment broker and father of three said he was delighted to have won. As a crusader for wildlife, this #BTN win helps him get his conservation message out to a large audience.
He added: “The fact that I have won is a testament to the simplicity of the Cell C app that makes videography accessible to everyone.”
The hugely successful competition received 837 entries and saw #BTN register 63 000 users. A huge 36 900 GB of data was redeemed by Cell C users during the duration of the competition with the total YouTube views of all content appearing in the app numbering 477 000.
Says Doug Mattheus, Executive Head: Marketing of Cell C: “We are delighted that #BTN has been such a success. South Africa has its own crop of social media celebs with a loyal local and international following. From wildlife spectacles to rappers, South Africans have contributed a lot to the online sensation of YouTube. We as Cell C want to provide the platform to allow people to make their dreams become a reality.
“#BTN aims to change the face of reality shows, and ultimately bring South Africa to the forefront of social media enhancement. With Cell C, believing is now a reality,” Mattheus said.
The winner Graham is passionate about wildlife, and all his videos used wild animals and reptiles. He invited celebrities to star with the animals in his videos. In one of them, he persuaded Greg Minnaar, South African World Champion Mountain bike racer, to help him restrain a crocodile for a health check-up.
While he has been inspired by Australian nature expert and television personality “The Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin – who died in 2006 after being pierced in the chest by a stingray barb – Graham’s love of wild life began early.
His father worked for nature conservation in Pietermaritzburg and, he says, from as young as 4, he used to catch water snakes and help relocate them with his dad. His passion for reptiles continues.
Having no YouTube channel has made no difference to Grahams video views. Viewers young and old have loved them.
Each week of the competition, Task Master Darren “Wackhead” Simpson gave the contestants a new task that had to be filmed.
Graham said his favourite week was filming the “cat” theme in which he had to rescue a curious cat that happened upon a deadly black mamba in a horse stable.
“It was a difficult shoot because of the danger and the risks involved. But very worthwhile once it had been captured.”
He said it was a pleasure to work with his chosen celebrities – comedian Aaron McIlroy and Cell C Sharks rugby playing Beast Mtawarira who “were absolute troopers and got stuck into the task and the shoot.”
“The entire shoot with Aaron was a complete laugh from start to finish. He is, in my opinion, the funniest man in South Africa.
“For the rest, all the shoots – spitting Cobra, Black Mamba, Crocodiles – had moments that were pretty scary.”
Graham said his team is comprised of his wife Kirsty the safety officer, Dusty Van Niekerk is first cameraman and editor and his wife, Taniele, is second cameraman, and Kevin Bender the still-shot photographer – all using iPhones to record.
His team extended to his network of friends and family who viewed and shared his videos.
On his award-winning trip to Hollywood in Los Angeles, Graham said he would like to meet directors whose specialty is the wildlife film industry. And his R250000 prize money will be spent, he says, “buying food for my snakes.”
Graham said he intended to expand on the exposure he has received from winning #BTN by launching a YouTube channel where “I will continue to promote the message of conservation through my passion and love for animals.
“We will continue to include celebrities in our videos as it has been incredible to watch them change their mindset about so-called dangerous animals. Because they have such a large audience, I hope that the celebrities will be able to help me get the message out to as wide an audience as possible.”
He said that #BTN was a “brilliant way to break into the YouTube market in South Africa.”
Other local celebrities used in videos across the competition included funny men Donovan Goliath and Joey Rasdien, local sports heroes, Tera Mtembu from The Cell C Sharks and Wayne Parnell of the Proteas, as well as TV personalities Maps Maponyane and Pharoahfi.
One of the highlights of the Cell C #BTN weekly online show was the guest appearance of two inspiring young South African women who have made it in Hollywood.
Swimsuit model Genevieve Morton who, like the Oscar winning actress Charlize Theron, grew up in Benoni has a massive social media profile with over 3-million Facebook “likes”.
Miss South Africa semi-finalist, Johannesburg born Cara Frew is a singer who is making a name for herself in Hollywood having signed to Sony Music Entertainment. Cara now lives in Los Angeles.
Both women attribute their success to the fact that they believed that anything was possible and that they could achieve their dream if they put their mind to it.
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