6 March 2020 - Jaco van Bosch
THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FILM "JUSTINE CASE".
If you haven't seen the film yet, click here before reading.
For a little while back in early-mid 2019, I was living at my friend, Kyllian's house. I was still looking for a new apartment to move into since moving from Pretoria, and we would often watch movies in his room. He had this DVD case next to his bed, which I never paid too much attention to, until one day when I noticed that the films in the cabinet were in no particular order. I asked him about this and he just shrugged and said nothing of it.
A couple of months later, I found a place to stay. This time also coincided with Mark & I deciding to make our 6 shorts in 6 weeks project happen. So while brainstorming ideas, I pitched the idea of needing to organize your DVD's and not knowing which system to use. It grew from there and Justine Case was born, originally titled, Justin Case.
As Mark & I were writing the actual story and adding the ideas of moving into your first apartment and having an overbearing mother, we realised that the character we were describing was actually made for one of our acting friends, Daniella Caprin. We then changed the script to have more of the Mother-Daughter dynamic and after completing it, sent it to Dani, hoping she would like it. She did :)
Then the apartment hunt started. We looked high and lo for a suitable apartment and eventually found the perfect one. I was keen on having it look bland and 'new' as apartments often do before you move in and make it your own. Pre-production started and went rather well, but 2 weeks before the shoot, the apartment fell through. I improvised and offered my actual apartment instead. After all, I had just moved in 3 months earlier, it was still almost new.
So we got everyone and everything together. The nice thing about living at your location is that you can bring your cinematographer and production designer through at any point and discuss the shots until they are flawless. For example, the cinematographer can come over and look at how the light from the windows look at any time of day to make sure we have the right lighting equipment ready. So much unlike the approach I took with Surface Tension, I planned out everything and wrote down a very clear shotlist to be followed on the day. I even borrowed Kyllian's DVD cabinet from his actual room with his actual DVD's that inspired the story to begin with. (I still have the cabinet. Kyllian has been here tens of times, but we always forget to load it into his car XD)
The day of the shoot arrived and I was feeling quite nervous. We shot this film before we did Surface Tension, so it was the first film I would be directing in almost 2 years (apart from Mugged, which we shot quickly almost a year ago). People started arriving, I had already moved some of my furniture out of the way and into the rooms as well as set out the craft table. But when time came to shoot, I realised that I had forgotten something very important... Boxes!
In all the excitement, I had actually forgotten to go to supermarkets and ask them for any boxes that they were going to throw away. Luckily, we had Jenira Ferreira on set. She was the Behind The Scenes videographer, but for an hour and a half, she was the box fetching girl. We sent her off, but it was still 7:30am and a lot of stores were still closed. We tried shooting some stuff that didn't require the boxes, but quickly realised that we also had not bought the label maker tape! I called Jenn to ask if she could try to find that as well. Luckily she is a rockstar and found everything we needed! She came back just past 9am with 24 boxes of all sizes and the label tape we needed.
So we got started properly with the shoot and all seemed to be going swimmingly. It took a while to get back on schedule since we lost some time while Jenn was out looking for boxes, but because of all of our planning and the shotlist that I could cross off one by one, we got back to where we needed to be to finish the film on time! Or so we thought.
At around 2pm, my upstairs neighbours decided to have a party. The music was loud. Like reeeaally loud. We asked them to turn it down a bit, but that seemed to make them turn it louder. So we soldiered on and tried to shoot the things that didn't need a lot of dialogue, however, there wasn't much of that left. In the end we decided to just shoot and then we'll deal with the sound in post by doing ADR on Justine's dialogue when the music was too distracting. I did my undergraduate degree in Sound Desing, so I was confident in my skills to match the sound, besides, we're shooting in my apartment, so the acoustics in the room when recording will be very close to, if not the same as the day of shoot.
We finished the film a half hour overtime, but everyone was super happy with the result. The cinematographer, Tshepang Modisane really did a great job and I'm so happy to have been able to work with him on this, I look forward to working with him again on many more projects in the future! Believe it or not, but the last few scenes from the DVD's being taken out frantically, to DVD's being on the ground was shot at night, Tshepang matched the day lighting exactly for the evening time.
So after we wrapped, we cleaned up my apartment and moved all my furniture back to where I like them and everyone went home. But we were not yet finished.
The next Monday, we had arranged to shoot all of the Mom scenes at our friend Bailey's house with her mom, Jenny Spencer. I was a little nervous as I hadn't met Jenny before and she has never acted in anything before, but as soon as I met her, I knew she was going to be perfect for this role.
It was only a two-man shoot on this day and Mark & I set up the living room in the Noir-style that I was looking for while Bailey applied Jenny's make-up. As soon as we started, everything was gold. We didn't need to do more than a couple of takes on each shot as Jenny just nailed it from start to finish. It was great working with her!
After wrapping the shoot, it was time for post-production. A very good friend of mine, Stephanie Kyriakou-Bouwer was visiting her sister in Johannesburg for a weekend. Stephanie is an amazing editor who I met during my time at AFDA. We became such good friends that we even went to France together in 2017 to attend the Cannes Film Festival as one of the shorts we had worked on together made it into the Short Film Corner. We met up for lunch and I told her more about the #6ShortsIn6Weeks project. I had told her about the project months earlier and asked her if she wanted to edit one of the films, but turns out she completely missed me asking. While we were chatting at lunch, I brought it up again and she was shocked to find out that I had asked her earlier and assumed her silence meant she wasn't keen. She immediately jumped on board, we copied over the footage and when she got back in Cape Town, she started the edit.
Now Steph wasn't on board from the beginning, so we discussed what I wanted for the film very broadly and I gave her the final script, my shotlist and all of the footage. I know she is a great editor, because from that alone, she edited the film almost exactly as I had seen it in my head. It probably has to do with us being such good friends and working together on other projects, but she just knew what I was going for and pretty much nailed it on the first go. We did go back and forth with some notes, but the by the 4th cut, it was perfect.
The rest of post-production also went great. Mark had the grade down from the first run through, with just some minor tweaks to the mother-scenes and Alex's work with the music was just great! Initially I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted it to sound like, but after sitting with him for a couple of hours, we came up with something that was very close to what ended up being in the film.
The people who worked on this film were all great! Every single person did an amazing job, and I'm so happy that they gave their time and talents to help make this film possible. Now I want to encourage you to also go and find the things that interest you and make a film about it! Just go out there and Make Your Movie!