During late spring 2016 I started collaborating with the Royal Central School of Speech and drama ending up delving into directing a couple of scenes and a short film promo, with their cast of talented young actors. It was interesting and refreshing for me to tackle all the filmmaking disciplines involved in making a movie. I directed two short scenes extrapolated from screenplays that already have been made into movies and had to direct two sets of actors I was given for them. Not having been able to cast the actors myself I had to adapt to their style and looks and make the most out of it and with the given material at hand, which was next to nothing as the budget was non-existent. I made a point of not try to recreate the movies in question as it would have been impossible, actor’s physiques aside, by our budget time and equipment. Plus I wanted to give it a go at shaping my own take on the script, without trying to mimic two successful existing films with big movies stars, it wouldn’t have been fair on everybody involved and most importantly it wouldn’t have been fun. During this time I rehearsed with the actors extensively and searched for the right locations and tried to figure out the appropriate camera and lighting style. We didn’t have much but we made the most of it. Having to be a real filmmaker for once was really exciting: directing, lighting, camera operating and then editing, sound mixing and grading was daunting for me and frightening at the same time but it turned out being extremely rewarding. While I was working on those scenes above I was approached by another student, Vanessa Calderon, who asked me to be the cinematographer of the graduation film she was starring in and producing. I agreed and the result is on my my WORKS page, titled Traces of a Soul, it was directed by the lovely Robin Rainsford who can be seen acting on one of the scenes I shot for the school shown below. At the same time Mannini Mokhotu, also acting in one of those scenes, asked me to do a short film promo for her, and lacking director, budget and any other key figure I undertook the task of doing it all myself. The result still makes me extremely proud. Mannini went on making a crowdfunding campaign and filming the whole thing during late summer last year, unfortunately by that time I was shooting on a BBC series and I could not free myself to light it for her. However here is the promo we did in all its glory.
Mannini conceived the idea and stars in it; I directed, shot, edited and graded it; the sound design and mix and graphics were done by Homebrew Film post-house in Cape Town, South Africa and the original song featured at the end was written and performed by the South African band Rheebongs (huge thanks to all of them for the amazing help they gave us, it made a real difference). Enjoy.
Below are the scenes I shot before filming Lejoe’s promo short: