Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dog Days.

The first days of a feature film job are all about planning and plotting and budgets and head-scratching.
And will we ever be able to do all of this??

Then there are the location recces... which I find very tedious and mostly leave me chomping at the bit, as they take so very long. We dawdled through mansions and hotels. Loitered at hospitals. Lingered in the bowels of the SABC, the projection rooms in cinemas. And then, to make up for it all, we went to a farm called Altona. It's been on my wish list for a long time - ever since I heard an interesting story about it... rumour has it that if you shoot in the dining room of the old homestead, you sign a clause stating that if anything happens to the antique chandelier in the dining room, the owners will be flown to Murano to repair or replace it. Great-grandmother's dowry.

It was smaller than I thought.

These old farms near Philadelphia are some of my favourite places on earth. Vissershok and the Occultdale Road. There's a formula here: a wide, dusty "werf" or yard, a clutch of blue gums, then the old main house, surrounded by a low whitewashed wall, and contained within that, a verdant Shangri-La. You can smell the water. And other things: a tangle of head-high lemon verbena, yarrow, dog roses, aloes, loquat, vigorous mint and zinnias. Jakop-Regop.

There are always a few lumbering big dogs. They come out to greet you and then they wander away again. The great dane took me for his own and leant against me, growling at the others.

Scattered around the yard are rambling outbuildings housing incredible old cars that haven't run in decades. The farm equipment of generations is not discarded, it gently rusts away in a field.

The owner of the farm was born in the bed he sleeps in at night.

Lying in a room in a different city, bedevilled under a bright blood moon, I wondered why I felt so rootless. Would it be different if I still had a family home to go back to? An old childhood room?
Perhaps my deep-dyed habit of collecting stuff also stems from this want. But I tell myself not to fret, I go to the market, I stop and I talk to the dogs.

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