It was just over a year ago when Naboth Lee-Marichambo came up to me, over a coffee date, with this idea. I asked him point blank, what’s your personal reason for wanting to make this film and I told him not to lie to me. It was only during our second coffee date that he told me his backstory about how he came into the country. Lee came into South Africa, during the height of a nationwide civil war dogging our country – the 2008 Xenophobic attacks. As a Zimbabwean in Johannesburg, unable to speak or understand any of our languages in South Africa, scared to death for his life, he fled to Cape Town, looking for work to support his daughter Shama, hoping things were better in the beautiful Mother City. A skeleton of an idea back then, Lee told me that he honestly couldn’t’t imagine not being able to protect her daughter from all the violence and kidnapping horror stories that flooded our mainstream news media, and it was through that conversation that him and I went on a journey of self discovery, a journey of truth and more than anything else, a journey of interrogating our own family dynamics and battling our own fears in order to script such a remarkable story.
After meeting with Juliano and hearing his horror story, I knew right there that I had to get involved. This kid was a stranger in my life but the way he opened up to me, there was no way I couldn’t not do this film. The more research we did, the more horror stories I consumed, the harder I struggled to bring myself to directing this film. But because of Lee and Juliano, my gut kept forcing me to push forward, to dig deeper and to trust the direction the story was taking me in.The entire film was shot in ten days in and around Cape Town, a first for me, a first for our producer Khanyi and a first for our stunt team.
Casting this film was a God-send to us – we literally got every single actor we wanted, from Hlubi Mboya to Deon Lotz to Keenan Arrison, Tema Sepobedi and even Kim Syster and Shaun Gabriel Smith. For Lee and Tema, this was their debut into cinema and not once did it feel like they weren’t bringing their A-game onto the pitch. Everyday was a pleasure working with these guys. I also wanted to intentionally work with new and up and coming actors because I believe in young blood and also because the film needed authenticity. When I started out, someone else, Genevieve Hofmeyr, had to take a chance on me. How can our industry evolve if I don’t do the same?
Production was also a beautiful experience for us in that we got every single gear, location and every toy imaginable, not because we had the money but because our suppliers wanted to really be apart of this production. We have crazy action stunts in the film, a charter plane, boats docking by the harbour all this because our suppliers saw past the “big bucks” and came to the party to lend a helping hand.