Dare-devilish maneuvering

18 January 2010

On Thursday I joined Peter and Mike (A MILLION COLOURS’ location scout) on a recce (this is industry lingo for “location reconnaissance” – I’m a quick learner). We went  to Preller estate, a historical landmark outside of Johannesburg. We were in search of a location to film an ANC training camp and a river crossing through the Zambezi…scenic enough for land mines and rapid gunfire to kick up incredible amounts of dust and debris.

To my complete surprise and sheer delight the farm was so expansive that the only way to tour the grounds was on 4 wheelers. It was a blast!  Hills and gorges, cliffs and river rapids, the place gave me a much-needed dose of nature combined with the thrill of speed and dare-devilish maneuvering.

Don’t let the lipstick fool you, I’ve been known to surprise folks with my fearlessness. Just about the time the guys came to grips with the fact that I was pretty much a speed racer in my own right – I had opted for my own vehicle instead of riding second on Pete’s and had been shifting (manually, mind you) through gears and jumping airborne to miss potholes all day – my fearlessness was put to the test. With my pedal to the metal and nothing but wide open space in front me, suddenly from out of the brush slithered the largest snake I’ve ever seen. It all happened so fast – I was only feet away and didn’t have much time to think. I swerved to miss the snake – which I did by a hair, in an attempt not to topple the ATV off the road. Let’s just say that snake was none to happy about it’s near-death experience and in its anger it reared up and flared its ears, or gills, or whatever those pointy flaps are on the sides of its face. I heard this loud pop hit the metal of my ATV and then it slithered across the road faster than a cat runs.

I had motioned to Peter and Mike who were behind me to be aware and they had seen the whole thing. The snake was too fast to snap a photo – though Pete tried. And when we all came to a halt to discuss what had transpired, Mike informed us that the snake was a Mozambique Spitting Cobra. They kill by spitting venom into your eyes, and therefore look for shiny or metallic things to spit at…hence the reason I heard a pop on the metal of my ATV. I was safe – we all were.  Mike was shocked that Pete and I were as calm as we were. I hereby give myself a gold star for fearlessness.

I learned this about films: nothing is impossible. You need to take 3 cameras and 15 crew across river rapids in a raft? No problem. You want to lace this field with explosives? No problem. You want to build an island in this river? No problem… I acted out scenes while Pete took photos. Mike exposed the possibilities by reliving other crazy shoots he’s done on the location. We planned escape routes and vantage points, chases and near-death feats. Let me tell you, in film, the brainstorming is unparalleled. I bet, if need be, they could tame that cobra.

Photos of the day