Totem Productions Ltd was established by Francis Gerard in London in 1987. Francis had been working as an independent documentary filmmaker for many years, with award-winning productions such as the series The White Tribe of Africa and The Bomb under his belt.

Initially Totem produced major documentary films on subjects ranging from adoption to nuclear war, but also ventured into feature filmmaking, among others A Private Life, about a couple living across the colour bar in the early days of apartheid.

Raised in South Africa and married to a Chinese writer and journalist, Francis has a particular interest in these societies and has over time expanded Totem into South Africa and China.

From 1992 to 2001 Totem produced a number of major television documentary series on Chinese history and culture: The Last Governor, Forbidden City, the Great Within, and China: The Dragon’s Ascent.

In this time Totem Productions also branched out into events, books and exhibitions, with a particular emphasis on cultural heritage, and became Totem Media.

In 2001 Totem conceived of, raised funding for, designed and developed the Origins Centre in Johannesburg, a flagship museum on the origins of the human race. At this time new team members were brought in to work on the project, most of whom are still associates of Totem Media today. 



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