A View from the Set

by Greta Knutzen

A View from the SetWe spent six weeks on location in Cape Town, South Africa. The first four weeks were preoccupied with preparation for the drama shoot and finalizing the script, the final two weeks were spent shooting the film itself. It was a phenomenal, albeit reasonably stressful, experience.

The schedule was grueling. I think I saw my dad, who lives in Cape Town, four times during the entire trip even though he lived moments away from our hotel. We ran the usual gamut of production challenges, the most spectacular of which was almost apocryphal.

Using maps and drawings from a variety of sources, we built the set of the community of “Jonestown” from scratch. It looked wonderful… until the Saturday night two days before we were scheduled to start filming, when a freak storm ripped through the valley and decimated it. It looked like Katrina had resurfaced and aimed directly for our set. The Art Department rebuilt the set in record time and we were back in business within days, but it was a bit of blow, so to speak. Things always work out for the best in the end, and the resulting set was even better than the first. People were astonished by how closely our set resembled the original.

The crew (mostly South African) was, without exception, amazing and a great pleasure to work with. Most were used to working on commercials and American movies, so they really relished the opportunity to work on this particular film and all went the extra mile as a result. I can’t tell you the number of people in the crew who came up to myself and/or Tim to say how touched they were by the story and how they saw it being translated onto the screen. For my part, it was such a privilege to work on this story and a pleasure to work with such passionate people who truly cared about the end result.

(Greta Knutzen’s article about the film Jonestown: Paradise Lost is here. She can be reached at gknutzen@nextfilm.ca.)

Originally posted on July 25th, 2013.

Last modified on March 7th, 2014.
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