We might have avoided any real bodies at the morgue yesterday, but today we couldn’t escape the carnage. Our final film follows a guy who’s down on his luck and takes a job working for an abattoir. As we stepped over rivers of blood, around discarded remains and between machete wielding workers, the sights, smells and sounds were anything but make-believe. Our story and surroundings were deadly serious, and if you can believe it, the real-life violence didn’t end there.
Our day started in a busy market where thousands of fruit, vegetable and textile merchants gather each morning. We wanted to embrace the chaos as much as possible, and so we divided into small teams to shoot more hand-held action. As we finished one of our first set-ups, I even stayed behind fake-directing some students for a while so the crowd of over a hundred wouldn’t follow the real team shooting a new scene about 50 meters away.
About an hour later, things started to get out of control. Some idiotic new vodka company decided to set-up a half dozen stations and give out free samples in the blistering heat. Somewhat predictably, huge mobs formed and fights broke out, while we were stuck right in the middle of it all. I rained hell on a few of the representatives who were still trying to set up new stations near us, and we all headed deeper into the labyrinth of the market to isolate ourselves.
We finished our shots (not the alcoholic kind) and high-tailed it out of there in record time, heading for refuge in our next location – a slaughterhouse. Yeah, I know.
A number of live cows strolled the grounds outside, perfectly oblivious to the fate that awaited them. We used them to establish our setting and, both out of necessity and sensibility, didn’t shoot any of the really gory details. Keeping with the day’s theme of brutality, however, we did stage and film our own fight sequence. The employees welcomed the distraction between their outdoor showers, rinsing off the gore of just another day at the office.
I’ve brushed off a number of things here as “T.I.A.” (This Is Africa), but today’s events were a little harder to shake. My consolation prize, I guess, was that we somehow finished everything early and took a nice, relaxed, meat-filled lunch. Shooting is now done, and everyone successfully got a big, dirty taste of what goes into production. Both for film, and for food.