I’m flying around the Natal Midlands on the back of a British racing green Husqvarna buggy. The art director waves directions while my shot list flies in one hand with my 5DMKIII in the other. The two-toned farmer shouts over the khaki veld, “Bring in the Nguni’s!” Crystal Birsch who is the stylist and part time Dramata Pro Arte makes it her mission to keep us all entertained. The client, Pia, just called me by my invoice line item, “zero-zero-five!”. Kate is Production Manager (PM) and proud Midlands native. Her attempt to draw out the fever tree thorn which pushed through my white converse ends with a safety pin so deep in my heel that wince when I remember it.
We’re holed up in a budget B&B in Ladysmith. I’m allocated a room with no windows except one that faces the indoor kitchen area. I wake up through the night to the sound of truck drivers stirring cups of Five Roses. The punishing buzz called East Coast Radio plays through a cheap Chinese HIFI creating a relentless tinsel echo over the tiled kitchen.
I dreamt that the FNB CEO was complaining about my Instagrams. Our PM dreamt that I sent her to Builders Warehouse for something for my kitchen. Pia dreamt that the PM was a raving Pokémon.
Our last shoot day is in Orlando in Soweto. It’s the most densely populated area of South Africa. The streets were designed by the apartheid military to quickly triangulate areas to suppress civil unrest. A nearby charismatic preacher leads hymns that could reach heaven. Television helicopters hover over us while I tether my Canon to my Macbook Air and debate Roarking and the cult of CrossFit.