There has always been something rather strange about the spaces where make-believe meets reality. Places where big money meets little or no money. Places where film sets are built and created have always been rather strange.
I think that I can say with a reasonable amount of statistical honesty that I have been on a film set at least once a year since 7 years old. Somehow this magical, strange, make-believe world of big money, big attitudes and big arrogance manages to keep my bank balance from flatlining.
It has taken me a long time to be able to amputate my love of the money from the realisation of the ugly. The truth of it all. As we know, money has a knack for hiding the truth. Recently I was invited to do a driving stunt as part of a Western Cape Government campaign to raise awareness on the issues of pedestrian drinking and its connection to South Africa’s high numbers of road deaths.
So I arrived on set, in Langa, ready for a long day. It was in a chair, sinking into the sandy soil of an old man’s garden that the ugly suddenly became illuminated. My chair had been placed at a table ready to be laden with food from the craft team. The craft team or caterers (all black) had been informed by the production company (all white, bar 3 black BEE tokens) to set up the tables and chairs. My chair was placed right in front of the aforementioned old man’s front door.
We, the cast, ate our fill, sucking and tonguing through meat, salads, veggies, baked goods, desserts and drinks. As we ate , children arrived home from school and playing in the road. Mothers returned home from work and fathers began to stumble into the twilight ready for the darkness. Heads began to pop up over makeshift fences and eyes began to look at us.
As darkness came so did levels of bravery. Tongues began to wag and the spit that dropped from the end of those tongues was the ugly truth. “You come to our yards eat food, throw away full plates and offer us nothing!?” “Who are these white people who come to our streets and block us from our homes without notifying us?”
We, the cast, sat in our chairs, slowly sinking into the dry sand in the old man’s garden. We ate and observed the cast ignoring the faces, stares and wagging tongues. It dawned on me that Cape Town is one of the most popular places to film in, yet who is benefitting?
Are the people in these areas and locations benefitting , growing, becoming more economically free? Where is the big money going? Who cleans up when the big, arrogant directors leave gardens ruined? Who pays for these one-day locations? Who gets paid? Did the lady who used her sheep heads as a prop get paid for those sheep heads? This is Cape Town, South Africa, sadly the money only ever goes to a small handful of people and everyone under them runs around picking up the coins that fall from the pile.