Tell us what inspired your film.
Coming from South Africa, I wanted to make a film that would tell the tale of the country as it is today, and the people who live there. I love exploring the different regions and meeting new people. The film was inspired by the generosity of the locals I met, particularly that of the farmers in Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.
What was the atmosphere like on set?
Initially, I needed to choose the right location to fit my script. I found the perfect spot in 2011 and 2012 during a road trip, and I continued building relationships with the farmers there ever since. I only had a week with the actors for rehearsals, which forced us to improvise a lot and develop a sense of mutual trust. I was quite directional with the younger actors, but overall, I gave them the freedom to do what they felt was necessary, and that often got me the best results. The crowd scenes were challenging too. I remember having to get up to dance by myself in the middle of a club just to get the extras to relax and encourage them to join me. I think it all comes down to how the drama is staged. The entire relationship between the staging, dialogue, locations and setting is the backbone of any film.
How did you feel about your actors?
My job is to pick up on how the actors are feeling, whether they're on the same page, and for us to work together to figure out how to draw on their personal experiences and feelings to tell the story. Working with young people who are still growing, like Brent Vermeulen and Alex van Dyk, was a privilege. Juliana Venter and Morne Visser were more experienced, and were able to inject their passion and work ethic into the filming process, which created a sense of community with the younger actors, a safe space where everyone involved was free to collect new experiences.
What inspires you?
My earliest mentor was South-African playwright Reza de Wet, a huge source of inspiration to me. My favourite film is Women in Love by Ken Russell, which had a massive impact on me when I was a teenager, and which was my introduction to D.H. Lawrence. His way of focussing on all the little details of rural life and tackling the special intimacy that exists between different people has always inspired me.
What are your views on South-African film?
The film industry in South Africa is thriving and serves as a solid network for international film productions. The independent film scene is smaller and I initially found it hard to find my place in the community. But there are so many amazing people and stories in South Africa - it's just a matter of time before the country's independent films start really shining through.