Following our meetings in Maun our first trip to Laroo La Tau lodge was to interview possible leads for our 'tourism impact on community' film, at this stage we had three possibilities to run with, first up was was a lady that had worked her way up from housekeeping and found a passion in the guest interactions of being a waitress, then there was a 'wildlife guide' from an incredible family that included an accountant, school teachers and two professional football players! But the story that was the best for caring our message was Ruben, school dropout that through tourism got steady employment and the space to grow and became the 'head chief' in the lodge where he started as a 'gatekeeper'.
Our first shooting dates were postponed due to a booking at the lodge by His Excellency the President, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama. Although he prefers to stay at the campsite the lodge owners didn't what a film crew running around on the same weekend, I'm sure it could have worked out well, if His Excellency didn't get in the way too much...
As it was our new dates allowed some construction of LED lights and a quick on-off, yes they work test. And off we go on the 2 hour drive to Laroo La Tau lodge. By the end of day 1 we have settled into our luxury rooms and had a briefing with Ruben and even made time for a quick scout of his home in Kumaga village where the first day of shooting will take place.
An early start was planed and executed by some, others finding the 5C temperature a little too frosty, its winter in Botswana. My crew looking like very old ladies wrapped in blankets and shuffling along... The idea of getting warm by moving around, getting busy even doesn’t work here! Anyway only an hour after sunrise we arrive at the location, it's already evident Ruben and myself are going to make this work! Others can hang on for the ride but can't stop the show. Progress is slow to start and by the afternoon we are getting most of the shots, home make lights working better than expected. Batteries hold out and the first day is done.
The second day was to be in the kitchen and scullery and went quite well we also made time for getting a couple of supplementary shots and cutaways. Footage reviews looked good and double back ups made. My crew are now even more relaxed and aren't quite realisation that filmmaking is hard work. Delegation isn't my strong point, having to say everything 2 or 3 times just annoys me, I'm knackered.
Day three, today we have some extras arriving to be in the safari car and at the diner table, this is the only day we can film at the gate, with safari staff, pretend guests and drivers. Its the same day we are hit by a cold weather front, the temperature plummets, the wind is howling and the crew are still in bed... breakfast is hot and Ruben and I are ready... others slowly emerge wrapped in even more blankets than before and decide to sit in the sun to warm up wether or not in my shot, filmmaking is now second to keeping warm for my grandma crew. The wind rendered almost all sound recording useless, sand and dust was getting in all exposed orifices, equipment and operator! And more by luck than judgement the footage was recorded, reviewed and backed up. Ruben and I had 20min to do his finishing 'piece to camera' but his chef uniform was at home 25min away, 2 crew and a driver went to recover the uniform but got delayed in action and only returned 2 or 3 hours later... As the 'no hurry' in maun turns into 'no show up' in Kumaga. By now the diner table has been set and for our climax to be shot, all instruction has gone by way of the chief uniform and tables need to move, power sockets aren't working our extra's are taking brimming advantage of our hosts generosity in the bar area. what ever you are imagining now, X10 and get close. The BHS film wasn't made but just that clip could have done six numbers on a media channel I'm sure, and if I was down for a heart attack then that would have been the moment.
Last day, some safety shots, and as we get lucky on the last day with the opening chicken piece. Packing up was without any major event or non event and back to maun we head.
That's about how the shoot went down, am sure some of you can relate, hey, what a ride!
Check the film @ The Gatekeeper