Chapter 11: Life & Death
Anne has arrived again for her next trip and that was good news. I think Anne had in some ways taken on the persona of her doctor Character as she seemed to go about making sure people were OK and always seemed to have medicine with her of some kind. She was also able to calm Jon down a bit, which was no bad thing but this time she was nursing him, as he was again very ill.
She had a package from back home, which she quickly handed to me. She seemed to know it would contain something important and told me I should open it on my own. This was on one of our rare days off as so many key people were ill it was not possible to shoot, so I was actually able to sit down and give it some attention. There were several things inside. One was a letter from my parents and it was nice to read that they were both well. Even though my dad had just had two thirds of his bowels removed due to cancer, he was still in the land of the living.

Anne as onscreen doctor
Then there was something very different from my girlfriend Alicia. Alicia, who was a school teacher had actually invested some of her own savings in the film and had also written me very sweet little cards, one to open each week which had words of encouragement on them. She had always been very supportive of what I did although I was constantly buggering off around the world at the drop of a hat.  She didn’t really want me to go on this trip and here was the reason.

Rory Ford baby scan.
I opened an envelope and inside was a black and white photo of what already appeared to be a tiny baby. She was pregnant and, although we had strong inklings of this prior to my departure, this photo from the scan she had gone for, was concrete stuff. It already had, fingers, toes and everything.
Those of you who have children will understand the impact of seeing this image. Those of you, who don’t, imagine what it would feel like then times it by 10.
It was an incredibly overwhelming feeling as I sat there looking at this picture with the sound effects of my brother throwing up so violently in the room next door that I thought he might die. I felt more of a sense of life and death that I ever had before.
Alicia and I were both well aware that this trip had very real risks. I guess she didn’t much fancy the ‘where’s daddy?’ conversation five years down the line if I didn’t make it back.
Not only that, but dying during the making of a Zombie movie just wouldn’t be heroic enough. We were not fighting a war here. I had not been aboard the Titanic bravely fighting for the safety of women and children with my stiff upper lip and steely reserve; we were not even shooting a biblical epic. She would have to make something up.
I felt the surge of an additional responsibility. I also calculated that I had not only ploughed nearly all my money into this troubled project but I had also had to turn down five potential commercial jobs while I had been here. In typical fashion it would have been my busiest time. But instead of earning anything, (Jon & I were the only people who attended Africa for the shoot that didn’t take any pay) even the money that I had invested back in the UK was not getting through due to the bizarre banking system.
I had also spent well over £25,000 ($40,000+) on my personal cards in addition to my investment and I had heard from back home that this months mortgage payment had bounced for the first time ever. I had council tax bills mounting up and I was due to receive a company fine for not filing my VAT return, which I had thought I would be back home to do in plenty of time before the deadline.
Not only was my earning potential zero until I could get this film done and get home again to declare to my commercial clients that I was ‘back in town’ but I also felt sure that by turning these commercial jobs down, they would find other directors and maybe stick with them on future jobs. That’s the way it goes.  I may well have irreparably damaged my career at a very untimely moment.
The temptation to simply walk out of there right then, get on a plane and go back to support Alicia and this new life we had created was quite strong. But I couldn’t. I had never left a project unfinished in my life and I was not going to start now. Everyone had invested so much we needed to finish this to the best of our ability and hope we could sell it for some sort of profit.
That was my goal and, I’m not joking when I say, I would rather have died than have gone home without a film. Dying would have been far less painful than having to live with myself as a failure. I was going to finish this if I was there on my own in Africa.
I grabbed my bag and took out my original schedule and cast my eyes over it, to see what I could cross off, and how I might be able to re-shape it. Suddenly, and for the first time during the production, I burst out laughing.
It was a manic, uncontrollable laugh. I was completely hysterical when I saw this original schedule I had so optimistically planned. It was literally a joke but these tears of laughter somehow were just the outburst I needed.
Right now though, we had to get this film finished and get out of here, but there would be some awful things around the corner that would have to be endured first.
 
FLIPPED
Now, Jon has had some pretty vocal outbursts by this point but he is about to take that to an Olympic level. We’ve managed to get the whole cast and crew out of the apartment but, instead of being able to shoot we have been stopped by the police again.
Frustratingly, this time it has delayed us by 7 hours and I’ve had to be driven to ATM machines to pay the $500 dollars to get moving again.
The time is the far bigger loss for me, as today was one of the few days that we had a full complement of crew as everyone was well enough to shoot. Even the prop car worked this morning.
We’ve also got our brilliant actor David Dontoh, who has flown in from Ghana to play The Chief and we hadn’t worked with him since the Guinness commercial he was one of the lead actors in a few years before and we were dying to capture him on film in the movie. But having originally all left the accommodation by 8am, it’s now nearly 3pm and we have only just been ‘released’ from the impound.
Jon and I have already resigned to the fact that we will again have to compromise what we felt were going to be fantastic tracking shots of The Chief leading our two main characters through this fantastically filmic village we had secured for the day with close to 100 extras to play survivors, plus 20 more as soldiers.
We had plans to have smoke from fires pluming around and Max and Dan were going to make up some extras as injured victims, and Mr Dontoh was going to add the gravitas with his monologue about how the soldiers have ‘returned home as brothers fathers and sons to protect their families…’ while our shots would pull-focus to show many soldiers doing just that.
I had seen David pacing around, script in hand rehearsing at 6am this morning and I had even caught myself doing the 4-finger director’s viewfinder, tracking with him from behind objects on the breakfast table. This scene was going to have the kind of production value that would ‘add a million dollars’ to the ‘look’.
But that was how things looked at 6am. By 3pm and Jon and I had been sitting in the cab of the van and figured we just about had time to ‘bang off the shot on a static tripod’. No tracking, no cutaways – we were 45 minutes from the location so would not even be out of the vehicles by 4pm and it was dark by 6pm. All the extras were waiting for our apparent arrival this morning and the shoot would still cost the same. Well, in fact, $500 dollars more for our luck of having encountered the police.
To say Jon & I were disappointed is an understatement. Then, just as we were ‘released’ and pulling out of there, another 4x4 pulled up in front of us and Chamberlin jumped out looking seriously worried.  I looked at my watch. 3.10pm, that gut tightening feeling of ‘we’re not even going to get a shot today’ was taking hold of me again.
Chamberlin appears next to our window, he doesn’t want to say it but he has been forced by the local production guy who has ‘sourced’ our army kit for the scene and who came down with it the night before at a pre-agreed and a pre-paid amount. ‘I’m sorry but this f**king guy wont let us have any of the military stuff until you pay more money for his hotel and bar bill from last night’. Jon and I were momentarily speechless. ‘He entertained some girls at the hotel so his bill is quite a lot and he says if we don’t go there and pay it now he will not let us use the costumes’.
Now even I was about to flip but Jon beat me to it and, let me tell you, when I say Jon flipped, you cannot possibly understand the level of anger he reached. He literally lost it. He saw red. Enough was enough. It was pure rage.  Every expletive was flying out of his mouth, as was spit and very nearly his eyes. He pulled off his seatbelt and was out of that car to beat the sh*t out of this guy.
To put this outburst into perspective, some of you may know of a certain Hollywood actor. An actor I particularly like, happened to have his mic still recording as he had a bit of an outburst at a DOP. I’ve heard this outburst, as have millions of others. Quite frankly it’s not even on the scale of what Jon (Ironically a DOP himself) did in this moment. Jon was foaming at the mouth, he was screaming so lividly I actually thought he could die from a haemorrhage.
He demanded the guy get out of his 4x4 so he could ‘tear him limb from limb’. Crowds of people descended around to see what would happen. It reached the level of lunacy I have never seen before and, let me tell you, that guy was not about to get out of that car. In fact, he stepped on it, never to return.
Jon was so gutted when he left that, for a moment, stood there in the street punching the air and punching himself, yelling that he would kill the next person who stopped us from shooting. He had too much adrenalin going around. It frightened a lot of people and, from then on, they gave Jon a local name, which meant ‘The crazy one’. It was a hell of an outburst but I totally understood why he did it. I had been on the edge myself many times.
Eventually when Jon had stopped shaking enough to drive we went down to the location and duly did ‘bang out’ our disheartening tripod shots of David’s dialogue about soldiers with a few of the extras we could get ready in time milling around in the background. David was great, as usual but it was another huge compromise from what we had intended and he must have wondered why we flew him all that way just to stand him in front of a tripod. But he never complained.

Ford Brothers on set

YOU CAN NEVER TELL WHAT WENT ON BEHIND THE SCENES
You simply cannot tell by looking at a film, a scene or a single shot in a movie, what the situation was behind the camera at the very moment it was captured.
It’s very easy for the viewer to sit there and say, ‘I wouldn’t have done it like that, I’d have had the guy do this’ or even for another filmmaker to say ‘I didn’t like that angle much, I’d have had the camera doing this…’.  Well that’s all well and good my friend, but unless that production had a money hose to wash away their problems there were likely many factors at play that resulted in a sequence having to be executed in a certain way.
Perhaps time was running out because of delays and the sun was going down, so it had to be rushed. Maybe they were about to be kicked out of a location because they had overstayed their welcome. Or they could only have their camera at one angle because a crowd of onlookers, who refused to be removed, were standing either side of the frame, or a wall was in the way on the location.
Or maybe it was simply bad judgement. Most of these types of problems can be overcome with time and money but, if you are lacking in either department, you will likely be exposed to creative compromises on many occasions so it helps a great deal to be able to think on your feet and come up with an alternative plan. The upside of this is that every now and then, a situation will force something upon the shoot which you later realised actually improved things.
 
This particular village we were shooting in seemed to have very different beliefs. For a start, before we could even start shooting, they had to perform a sacrifice as an ‘offering’. I can’t remember if it was a sheep or a goat that they had, I didn’t even want to look at the animal before it was killed in case it looked into my eyes. I just couldn’t absorb any more pain. I did, however, have to pay for it once they had killed it, which was odd, but I just wanted to get the shoot going and, if death was what had to be done to facilitate it, then death it was.
Rob had also collapsed with malaria for a second time but he had to appear in a shot with David before he flew back so we had no choice but to get him out of hospital, pop out the saline drip, and stand him next to David for a reaction shot. The trouble was, Rob was totally gaga.
I looked through the viewfinder to get the frame and I said ‘Ok, your head is a little far forward, just lean back a bit. Rob snapped ‘Just tell me where to put my head’ ‘Rob, this is me telling you where to put your head’ I said. ‘Well don’t make me guess’. Then he started mumbling something incoherent, while the rest of us exchanged glances and raised eyebrows.
A couple of minutes later we were doing a quick rehearsal for another essential shot when some villagers made a noise so Rob launched into one, shouting about concentration and ‘couldn’t they see a rehearsal was going on’!
These villagers had probably not seen a camera before; the rules of a set would be an alien concept to them. Of course the real Rob would have known this, but this was not the real Rob. For those of you who have seen ‘the fly’, this was the mosquito version and, right now, somewhere inside Rob was a little mosquito with a joystick, running riot with this human puppet (Of course this is a very sketchy representation of how malaria actually works but it’ll do for now).
We then did a take, and Rob bursts into tears during it. I’m looking through the lens thinking, this man should not even have his foot out of bed, let alone be anywhere near a shoot. We had to get him out of there fast.
The trouble was, there was one shot we had to get before David Dontoh flew back to Ghana, and this shot was inside the village. We would cut-away for the most part, but we had to have one shot where Rob was seen talking to David in the village. After that we would use a stand in.
Unfortunately the incident with Rob and the villagers had escalated into something quite serious. Chamberlin came to me, almost white as a sheet (and this is quite something) the word had spread of Rob’s shouting at the villagers and, all of a sudden, our presence there was no longer welcome. In fact, a couple of the guys in the village felt particularly strongly about it and were gathering a group together who would do something that Chamberlin didn’t even want to tell me about.
Bearing in mind, this was a village that had performed a live sacrifice upon our arrival, and within its huts there apparently lay pots with the remains of dead relatives and in the centre of the village was the strangest of carvings upon which hung shreds of drying skin of unknown origin, it didn’t bode well.
Chamberlin suggested that I should come with him into the village to speak to the people whilst the others ensured Rob stayed well away. I didn’t really like the idea of going into this village at all, now there was animosity but I trusted Chamberlin’s instincts.

Chamberlin
Chamberlin was a sharp, instinctive guy and I felt he had saved our lives a few times already.  So I went in with him and did my best political and respectful manoeuvres until we both felt satisfied that it would no longer be necessary for them to kill us.
Whilst I was in this village I had an uneasy feeling for several other reasons. It had a particularly dark atmosphere. In addition to the apparent bodies of dead relatives stored in pots that we were ‘not to touch’ (trust me, I wasn’t about to break that rule) there was also a strange mentally ill lady who would shuffle about with an icy stare and, for some reason, no one was prepared to go near her.
Sometimes we would be setting up a light or the camera and she would shuffle next to you and just linger there. Then we were shooting and she would shuffle into shot. It didn’t matter who I asked, and how politely, the lady could not be removed, no matter how delicately. It sounds awful but we decided that if she shuffled to an ok part of the frame we would just shoot anyway as she would look like a Zombie. There didn’t seem to be any other solution.
The problem arose when we needed to do some shots firing an AK47. The noise that emanated when that trigger was pulled is far louder than you can imagine. Everyone around had to cover their ears.
I discussed with our translators what to do. Should someone put their hands over her ears before we took the shot? It was an odd problem. We didn’t want to terrify her but we had to get on with it. We waited until she was behind a hut or something, so it wasn’t too overpowering, and that was that.
But everyone would feel the ‘atmosphere’ in that village. Every single crewmember, local or otherwise, felt uneasy there, and I have no idea what was going on but it felt good when we had moved on.
 
PRIDE BEFORE FALL
There was at least one up-beat moment where it felt like we were winning. Rob was no longer gaga and was finally out of hospital and, although he was still weak and feverish, we were at least able to shoot the scene where he was, well ‘weak and feverish’.
So out popped the saline drips from his arm and we assisted him into the car where the doctors made sure he would rest for at least the next ten days and, of course, we drove straight to the location where Jon and his team had already set up the lights. This was what Rob wanted too.
I had agreed with Jon where the camera would be and which lens and by the time I turned up from the hospital, there it was, on the tripod, with the exact lens. The ‘video assist’ monitor was set up, the generator was working and Jon’s lighting set-up looked brilliant.
I had thought that we would create Rob’s feeling of sickness with his performance, a little make-up and an odd camera movement created on what’s called a ‘dutch head’ (sounds naughty but it’s actually just a type of tripod head that can give you a nice off-kilter movement) and we had lugged this piece of kit all around with us, in and out of cars, countless times. Normally, we did this with other bits of kit and props and, by the time we needed them, they had mysteriously gone missing. This time, everything was present and correct. This was how a shoot should be.
On top of this, Jon had created a fantastic effect with the fire-flicker and added a moving light effect that would pulsate across Rob’s face as he lay feverish and as Jon put it ‘it has no justification whatsoever but will look good and add to the nausea’ and he was right. I looked through the lens, he demonstrated the effect and loved it. I would never have thought about doing this and it was just what the scene needed. This was how the Ford Brothers team was meant to run and it was just like we had been on a number of commercials, except we didn’t have the corporate client saying ‘lose the light effect’ and screw up our scene. We were back in the game.
Not only this, but Rob received a hero’s welcome. There were pats on the back from the rest of the crew. Given his condition, he seemed in a good mood and we were all happy to see that. Even more amazing to me was that I had asked someone to get a live chicken before I had left for the hospital as it was in the script that Rob would wake from his flashback and there would be just a chicken pecking around in an ordinary way. These were the little details Jon & I loved. To my utter amazement, not only was this live chicken actually present on set, but my little suggestion, just as I was getting into the car that it might be nice if it was a white chicken, given that his character had dreamed about himself in pure white, (this was an additional odd visual reference that even if only a few folk get it, could be a nice touch.) There it was, right in front of me, a white chicken. I could have kissed it. This sort of synchronicity just hadn’t happened before in the entire production.
Then we just got on and shot the scene. Jon did his lighting effects, I briefly went through some details with Rob and he did an amazing job performance-wise and, as I was looking through the lens as our camera ran with no problems whatsoever, for once, I felt like we were winning.
That night, we all had dinner in a restaurant and I even made a speech congratulating everyone on their efforts under such difficult conditions and what great work had been achieved that day. Most of us even had a beer or two, which was a rare treat, given the cash flow. Little did I know the unthinkable was about to occur.
Just to add further injury to the insult that was about to unfold, first thing in the morning we decided to do a shoot without Rob so he could sleep in a little. We needed a wide shot with loads of Zombies in it and, whilst we had been on set smoothly shooting the night before, our local fixers had been doing a great job recruiting lots of extras for the crowd scene we really needed to help give the film scale.
I won’t pretend this shoot went smoothly as it was a real stress directing the crowds, and it got a bit rowdy, but we got some great shots in the can on the remainder of the roll we had been using the night before.
It was about mid-day, and we were back at the accommodation and Rob was emerging and getting his kit on and Jon & I were ‘canning up’ (taking the exposed film out of the light-tight camera magazines and sealing them in cans for processing). We had done this hundreds of times and not once had a problem. I was holding the magazine in my hand and Jon was conscientiously cleaning every spec of dust or sand from the light-tight bag ready for our precious celluloid.
Then it just happened. The magazine in my hand simply fell open. Even writing this now I’m feeling sick again. Jon & I and also Nada the associate producer, who was the son of Amir’s key investor, both stood staring open mouthed at the mag that had literally popped open in my hand. I slammed it shut again but that’s like putting a gun down to go run after a bullet. It’s pointless. I may as well have danced all over that roll of film and used it as a urinal. All I could do was pace around saying ‘NO, NO, NO’. I literally doubled over in agony. This has never happened in the history of our filmmaking exploits. Jon would normally have gone ballistic due to an event at even half this magnitude but, instead, he just turned pale. He could see how bad my pain was and he just put his head in his hands. Normally a single can of film would only be part of a sequence but on our budget we had to make every frame of film count and this one had both days footage on it. We would have to re-shoot both sequences. Even the poor little white chicken would have to return to set.
On top of my anger over this happening, the fact that this had happened quite literally in my very hands made me feel that I’d let down the whole crew, who had worked so well, and we would never get to see Rob’s great performance on that sequence, although he did do a great job second time round. I apologised to everyone and decided I would never again tempt the fate of a day’s rushes by making a congratulations speech even if something had gone well. I needn’t have worried about that. Nothing ever went as smoothly again.
Too many things like this were happening for it to be a coincidence. Once the film was out of the mag, Jon and I tested that magazine again and again to see if we could make it pop open like it did. It was impossible. We couldn’t do it, yet to this day I can feel the sensation of it opening in my hand.
Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that this sequence was the one that has our real voodoo witch doctor in it; with a real voodoo spell and real witch-doctor outfit which had taken weeks to negotiate for authenticity (another real detail Jon & I were keen to incorporate). The witch doctor footage was shot on a separate day from this scene but it was always intended to be inter-cut with the feverish footage. I have no idea if this had anything to do with it, but something was messing with us and it was about to prove fatal.
 
ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG
The airport sequence had taken a lot of meetings and negotiations before we could shoot there and I was amazed that the actual guy, who eventually allowed us to film on the tarmac, did so to support our endeavour and was the first and only person to do such a thing for no financial gain. He simply would not take any money from me. I was truly shocked and extremely grateful.
Sadly, only a short while after we started shooting. Word got out and a load of officials from some other division turned up and forced us off the airport grounds. We desperately needed the shot of Rob & Prince stepping onto the tarmac and we had brought a wide angle lens, which would only be used, for this one shot.
Jon had a note he had made from over 20 years ago about the vibe of this sequence and the atmosphere of the one open space of manmade construction and the contrast this would have with the rest of the environment and I knew exactly what he meant. We had to get this shot.
So I said I would keep the officials talking and see if I could lead them out of the frame we had set up, then give Jon, Rob & Prince a ‘thumbs up’ from behind my back as a signal for Jon to roll the camera and Rob and Prince to walk onto the tarmac from either side. Everyone was game.
Jon quickly disconnected the wire in the camera that caused the ‘beep’ as it started rolling and also covered the eyepiece with a cloth so he could pretend he was doing something else rather than having his eye on the camera, which is a bit of a giveaway. Rob held his hand gun behind his back out of sight and Prince concealed his machete and AK47 that we had been told had to be put down.
I had marked in my head the edge of frame and then had ‘led’ the entourage of people to one side with a ‘please lets all discuss this’ and an accompanying over-exaggerated gesture to convince people to follow me to another area to talk ‘business’. I glanced back and eventually managed to talk gibberish until the last of the group was out-of-frame. Then I did the thumbs up gesture behind my back and hoped for the best.  I’m not sure how many directors have had to direct with a ‘secret thumbs up’, but you just have to do whatever it takes.
Suddenly, angry shouts rang out and three of the officials ran over to drag Rob and Prince off the tarmac, but our leads managed to stay in character the whole time, pretending to look around the ‘deserted’ airfield for a moment. Suddenly it got very tense and one of the guys started shouting, pointing in the direction of the camera. Jon was pretending to clean a lens with a cloth but they were onto us. They demanded the film from the camera and it was getting very heated.
Chamberlin who was doing his very best political diplomacy but was being understandably brow beaten by these guys and I could see the pressure on his face. He even threw in some begging gestures and I had to throw in a ‘show’ of telling Rob and Prince off for ‘rehearsing’ a sequence while we were waiting ‘bloody actors’ Jon took the mag off the camera which had ‘tailed out’ (run out of film while we were arguing). This luckily gives the impression of being empty on one side so he took his chances and showed them this saying ‘look, no film’. Then he went over to the camera box and took another mag, which did have an obvious loop of 35mm film so they could see the difference.
It was a close call but we got away with it, on the basis we would leave immediately and meet them tomorrow to discuss getting permission from them. Of course, we were never coming back.
On one hand, it was a relief that we had gotten some shots, but our script had contained an action sequence where they would battle with the dead to get out of the airport, but it was never to be. The awful thing about this whole affair was nothing to do with our losses though.
Two weeks later, we found out that the original guy who had facilitated us to shoot the few shots we did manage to get, for no money whatsoever, had died in an aviation accident leaving a wife and 3 kids. It was incredibly sad to hear that and. I wanted to give some money to the family, at least as some sort of gesture, but I was told not to get involved.  With all the ominous things going on during this production I somehow felt responsible and I carried the weight of it on my shoulders and in my heart, and I was feeling increasingly near breaking point as time went on.
 
EVEN BAD FILMS ARE HARD TO MAKE
It’s bloody tough to get a film made. So I always find it impressive if someone out there actually gets one ‘in the can’. And, if it hangs together, well, that really is something. There are tons of ‘bad’ movies out there, we’ve all seen them, but even the most God awful piece of crap, was probably somebody’s ‘baby’. Someone out there put their heart and soul into the making of that film. They likely had hopes and dreams for it’s success. They likely went to lots of meetings about it and had to ‘big it up’ in front of many other people before it was allowed to go ahead.
They probably made huge sacrifices, both emotionally, physically and financially, to get it made, perhaps even neglecting important personal relationships so they could devote the sheer amount of time the making of a film absorbs. Maybe they even secretly fantasised about being at an awards ceremony.
How other people might admire them for what they have done, pat them on the back, say something like ‘I really liked your film, it was so good’. But no. If it turns out to be a ‘bad film’, they will have gone through all the pain and receive nothing but criticism for their efforts and as a result, they might retire into a small room and do nothing but order pizza until they are so large they can never walk again.
So there you have it. Remember that the next time you see a bad film.
 
CONTROVERSY
At this moment, too many people were ill to be able to shoot anything so we went into the centre of Bobo Dioulassou to a bar called Bar Entente for drinks. It had a real local vibe and it was really nice to mingle and talk with Chamberlin, Leke, Tijane Assad and the other local guys, and also buy a few rounds of drinks to say thanks for their hard work. They said some really nice things about working with us ‘foreigners’ and I let them know how much I appreciated what they were doing. They seemed so optimistic and excited about the film. Much more excited than I now was, given all the problems, so it was a helpful boost. Some great conversation and a good few beers later, something dawned on me and Leke caught my smile fading ‘What is wrong?’ He asked. I looked Leke, a Nigerian and Chamberlin from Burkina in the eye; two guys I really liked and had grown to trust and I said ‘You know, some people are going to say I am racist’.
They looked far more concerned than I thought they would at this statement but I had to have this conversation. ‘No, but you are not, no one will ever say that’ said Leke. I was grateful for his confidence. ‘It’s sad but I guarantee some people will miss-understand what we have done, they will say that this film is racist because we have black Zombies in it and we are white filmmakers and it is starring a white man in Africa’.
Chamberlin cut in ‘But we can see the way you are with us. We are friends, no one in Africa will think its racist, its bullsh**t’. ‘I hope you are right’ I said ‘But there are people who look out for opportunities to say such things. They will probably be white, anyway, and think we are taking advantage of Africa by coming here to do this film’.
‘But you have come in with your money and so many people have been able to eat today because of this film. Will the people who say these things bring their money to Africa?’ said Leke. Chamberlin added ‘I am proud for this film to be done here, it will show my country to the world, people will see how beautiful Burkina Faso is and more tourists will come to see it for themselves,’ ‘It will also show that any type of film can be made here, not just films about how poor we are’. I hoped he was right. Either way, it was a huge relief to know they got it but I wondered if they would take kindly to what I was going to say next.
‘I also feel I should tell the story about the corruption we have faced. I really wanted to come back from Africa with a positive story but I will have to tell the truth about what happened when people ask. If you later read something in a magazine or newspaper about these police that have been stopping us for money, will that be offensive to you?’
Now this definitely provoked a reaction but not the one I was afraid of. In fact the two guys were really stirred up and excited and talking over each other so I’m not quite sure who said what. ‘No, we are sick of our police, they are meant to protect us, they stop us in the street, and some even come to our houses and take money from us. That’s the only reason they put on that uniform, they are s**t!’. ‘So you are happy for me to say this?’ I ask. ‘NO, you must promise us you will tell people of these problems otherwise how will the world know, they will listen to you, you are a white man, us we are nothing to them’ came the response. It was controversial stuff ‘Ok I will, maybe I’ll write a book or something’. ‘Promise us you will do that’ ‘Ok, I promise’!
Bar Entente in Bobo Dioulasso became our little escape from filmmaking reality on a fair few evenings from this moment on and they even helped us recruit extras by announcing for anyone interested in playing Zombies in a movie on their PA system. That’s why they appear on the credits.

 Tell A Friend  Share on Facebook
 785 Times
 Back To Index