filmstrip1Drama in Dargle

Filming of local drama  Rare Blood, right here on our doorstep!

While most residents in the drought stricken KZN Midlands were delighted when 50mm of rain fell one winter’s night, the producers of the thriller Rare Blood were not quite as thrilled. The first day of filming saw the crew slip sliding on rural roads and actors’ cars stuck in ditches. Schedules were tight, budgets constrained, the show had to go on – so shooting commenced regardless. That many Midlanders, used to inclement weather, were involved helped.

Barry Downard had been appointed Director of Photography by his old friend Brett Halliday who, along with Gillian O’Donoghue, had written the script, and was now intent on producing the movie in Dargle. “I gulped when first asked to take this on, but thanks to intensive lessons from Google, massive support from locals, and drawing on lots of experience composing visuals, it turned into an incredible experience,” he says. Pre-production meetings held at il Postino Pizzeria looked at locations, talked about technicians and discussed actors. In retrospect it is astonishing what was achieved in such a short time, but one thing simply led to another. After well-known local actors Brendan Grealy and Annie Robinson came on board, their daughter Ella joined, along with Nottingham Road’s Mark Mulder. Before you knew it, Ashley Dowds, Fiona Ramsay and Graham Clarke were in, making for a star studded cast.

There were so many beautiful locations to choose from – Tanglewood Country House and Lemonwood were considered, with the crew finally settling on Inversanda and Hillhouse.

“Everyone pitched in – I borrowed my neighbour’s trailer, asked the local electrician for advice, Louis Bolton was first assistant director. Tom Bate was stuntman for a horse riding scene and we turned his car into a police vehicle with some stickers. Sculptor Kim Goodwin was drafted in for a cameo role, Rijn van Wyk helped the cameraman on a jolly cold night and Malvina van Bremem herded her Nguni cattle across the road for a particular scene” recalls Barry.

The film is a concentrated story, with all the action taking place within 18 hours, so much of it was shot at night. Lights usually go off pretty early in Dargle, but for these three weeks, everyone got used to finishing work way after midnight. Then the Grealy family would drop their intense characters, hop cheerfully into their car and head off home to get up at 6am so Ella could get to school on time! Barry was most impressed at the professionalism and work ethic of everyone involved. “There were no ‘that is not my job’ issues. When the film is released you will see that gaffer, grip and driver all have the same name. Everyone was happy to help wherever needed – even at 2am.”

In the end, the clear winter skies that followed the rain proved perfect for sunrise shots, reflections of wind-blown trees added to the drama and the rain on the roof only slightly affected sound recording. Much of the success due to the generosity of spirit that abounds in our community.

See familiar faces and landscapes in a whole new light on Facebook: rarebloodfilm

Stunt rider Tom Bate in action at Inversanda.

Stunt rider Tom Bate in action at Inversanda.