|Although my local phone had
also gone during the border exchange, Amuda had just enough credit to text
someone back home to call us back. That someone was Barbara who was back in
Accra. We calculated that we could only make it as far as a particular town 40
miles ahead of us, hundreds of miles short of our destination but Barbara
called around her address book of clients to find someone who might live near
that town who could help us.
|Within an hour, and many
calls later she had located an ex-pat client from one of the many companies she
had dealt with who was not only prepared to drive quite some distance to the
obscure town, but he would meet us on a dusty road where we had run out of fuel
and bring $500 dollars in local equivalent.
|He was given a description
of our van with red generator attached and we waited. By this time we had long
since run out of food, water, fuel, we quite literally had nothing except the
shirt on our backs and they were pretty torn. Then at about 10.15pm, a plush
looking car flashed its lights behind us and I excitedly jumped out to meet
this stranger who had come to save us.
|I will never forget the look
on this man’s face as he got out of his air conditioned car in his smart,
perfectly ironed attire to meet us. This was a corporate client of Barbara’s
and perhaps he had expected the English film director she had described to look
somewhat different. I walked around the back of the van with a smile on my face
and an outstretched hand in which to greet him but he had stopped transfixed at
the sight of me.
|It hadn’t occurred to me how
strange I might have looked until that moment but I suddenly became acutely
aware due to his horrified expression, that not only had I not been able to
wash, shave or been able to take any personal care of myself for several days
but I was standing there completely covered head to toe in reddish African
dust, except for a small patch around my eyes where my sunglasses had been earlier
in the day. I was scratched with a torn, ill-fitting shirt, trousers with
unmentionable stains down them and sunken features from what had amounted to
nearly 3 months of food poisoning. I can’t vouch for the smell that might also
have emanated from me as I had probably gotten used to it.
‘What the hell has happened
to you?’ he said, with his hand poised over his phone like he was about to call
|My reply was also an acute
moment of personal realisation;
‘I… I made a film’..
|No matter what I would have
said to him, it would never had made sense. I was just so grateful for this
stranger coming to save us like this that I think my beaming smile just didn’t
fit with the rest of my bedraggled body.
I can’t possibly do justice
to how it truly felt to go through what we did on this film over the three
months we ended up out in Africa. I cannot get across with words the heat, the
smells, the feeling of the dust in your lungs day after day, the stickiness,
the unrelenting flies in your face. How it felt to endure the stresses and at
the same time feeling ill or weak from having been ill. Like anything, you
simply had to be there, but I’m very relieved you were not. As you would not
have liked it much and there would have only been one person you could have
|For the record, one other
policeman between Paga and Accra stopped me. A bright eyed young officer who
asked me what I was doing. I told him with a smile ‘We’ve just made the first
Zombie movie in Africa called The Dead, we had a nightmare trying to get the
film made but I hope you enjoy it when it comes out’ ‘That sounds really nice’
He said, returning the smile ‘I will see it and I will remember you, good
luck’. He put up both thumbs enthusiastically. ‘I will remember you too’ I
said. No money exchanged hands, just a human moment that I really won’t forget.
I almost took his name and number to report him for being honest.
|For all my own complaining
that I have now got off my chest, one very important thing has to be said. It was
entirely self-inflicted. I chose to take this on and therefore I only have
myself to blame. Everyone worked incredibly hard on this film under difficult
conditions and I wished I could have provided the cast and crew with a much
|All of my personal stresses,
however infuriating they were, are pathetic when compared to the hundreds of
people we encountered in Africa who had not even enough food or water on a
daily basis and certainly not the ‘luxury’ of indulging in a creative desire.
And although we were able to help out a little as we passed by, we were about
to leave their country with our film and many of them would still be starving.
I don’t believe that means we should not have made the film, but it certainly
puts it all in perspective.