So! We’re four weeks away from shooting, and our cast and crew is by and large locked. Last Saturday was the first read through of the locked script with most of our cast members. There was a tangible sense of excitement about the project. Every cast member had some astonishing insights into their characters, and their psychologies and philosophies. It’s lovely to experience such an immediate intelligence in a group of actors, and I’m certain that it bodes well for shooting. The writer of Wolwedans in die Skemer, Leon van Nierop, popped in about halfway through the read-through. He was there to interview Jozua, and to get some tips on how best to use his new iPad, and took over narrating the script directions from Jozua for the final portion of the rehearsal. Leon was a voice actor as well as the writer on the original Wolwedans in die Skemer radio show that aired on Springbok Radio in the late 70’s and early 80’s, and it seemed like a lovely moment of meeting across adaptations and time.
This week has seen a considerable step up in the intensity of the pre-production. The Director’s lair on the mezzanine level of the Film Factory’s offices has become a hive of creation – Production Designer Waldemar Coetsee was the first to set up shop here last week, followed by Wardrobe Mistress Marle Drotsky and (as of this Monday) Set Dresser and Set Dressing assistant, Chris Joubert and Candice Moir. Werner Grobbelaar (the DIT, stills photographer, and behind the scenes guy) has been in and out of the office, and our editor C.A. van Aswegen and VFX man Quinn Lubbe have their offices on the first floor. The Director’s room itself is a rather incredible sight – the walls are literally covered with location pics, character references, camera references, wardrobe references… and so on. It’s a spectacle, and a brilliant means by which Jozua Malherbe has focussed his vision for the film.
Director of Photography, Tom Marais, has the role of capturing the Neo-Noir look of Wolwedans in die Skemer. He is a gifted cinematographer, with fine work on the features Roepman, Bakgat 2, and Hanna Hoekom, TV series Home Affairs, Sokhulu and Partners, Jacob’s Cross, Tsha Tsha and the latest season of Soul City. He’ll be capturing the lush landscapes of Hazyview, Mpumalanga, where the film is set, and the foreboding interiors of Hotel Nyala with deep tones and heavy shadows – chiaroscuro is the word to look up if you want an image reference. You can be certain that Wolwedans in die Skemer will be a beautiful looking picture. If you’re in the mood to be impressed, Tom has his extended cine-resume up at tommarais.com.
The music for the film is to be composed by Braam du Toit, one of South Africa’s finest musical talents. Alumni of the South African College of Music at UCT, and multiple award winner, Braam will be creating the sounds that will frame the dark and ominous world of Wolwedans in die Skemer. You can check out his work on his website here and on his Soundcloud.
On the lower level of the Film Factory is our amazing production team: Producer-Extraordinaire Danie Bester, Line Producer Lucia Meyer, and Production Manager Maryke Piketh and their able Production Assistant Chris Bussey. They’re hard at work on the project’s logistics, budgets, and other intimidating things that involve numbers and money and excel spreadsheets. They’re a brave lot.
An extraordinarily talented group of people has been assembled to work on this project. I’ve been a cinephile for as long as I can remember, and Cinema is, in my opinion, the preeminent form of Art. Other forms (outside of cinema’s predecessor, theatre) rely on individual powers for their expression, and there is reliability in individual efforts – either one creates, or one doesn’t, and the burden of creation is shouldered by that one. Cinema is the process by which many individual creative powers are channelled towards one creative outcome – if the effort is successful then we are transported for 90 minutes or more. It is art by a community and art for a community. This is not to undermine the force of the director, far from it. In Wolwedans in die Skemer’s case, it is Jozua’s responsibility to ensure the team works in concert with his vision for this film. It seems like he’s been doing rather well so far, and I’ll try to be as candid as my job security will allow about how things pan out. But Jozua is confident, and he has reason to be – he has a strong script, a talented and dedicated cast and crew, and the best bloody job around.
In the days and weeks to come I’ll be looking in detail at the production process of Wolwedans in die Skemer. I’ll focus on the efforts of the Wolwedans team – what they’re doing, what they’ve done, what they’re hoping to achieve with this film. I’ll talk about some of the innovations that Jozua is putting into play in this production, and how they unfold as the production progresses. You’ll see our website go up, designed by the Class A German Import Alex Kiener, and some teaser videos from behind the scenes. I hope you’ll get as excited by the development of this film as I have – I’ve been grinning like a fool for the 3 weeks I’ve been involved.
We’ve got up on our facebook page photos of the locations we’ll be shooting at on, cast photos, movie suggestions, and mood pictures that will hopefully give you a small sense of what effect Jozua is trying to achieve with Wolwedans in die Skemer. If you like what we’ve done with our facebook page, then externalise that sentiment, and “like” our facebook page. Also, if you’re so inclined, follow us on twitter @wolwedansfliek.
Until I can figure out a clever signing off phrase, this has been James Stent with his very first blog post on ReadWrite.