On Wednesday I wrote about some sort of film shoot taking place in our road. On Thursday, they were still at it. So I went to have a closer look at the set after work.
They had created a lush garden on the central island, with a gently curving white gravel path, flanked by a lush green lawn made of square cuttings of grass, leading from the edge to the centre. Here stood a semi-circular wooden gazebo, sheltering a table with a pitcher of orange juice and some glasses on it. Beyond the gazebo, on the opposite side, was part of a wooden house, which looked rather like a Wendy house for children! A covered braai (barbeque) stood on the lawn in front of the gazebo – when the man in charge of it lifted the lid off, smoke came out, so there must have been a real fire in there.
I was standing at the outer edge of the traffic circle, admiring this setup and wondering whether we should get in a landscape artist or garden designer to create something similar in our garden, when a man dressed all in brown with a brown hat emerged from the house on the corner behind me, and stood fairly close to me. I gesticulated to the set, which was looking absolutely fantastic, and asked, “Do you think they might leave it like that when the shoot is finished?”
“No, unfortunately not,” he said with a smile. “We’ll take it all apart when we’re done.”
“I love what it looks like,” I said. “There’s so much attention to detail.”
“Yes, it’s crazy, isn’t it? It takes ages to set up, and then we take it all down again.”
A man with a watering canister on his back was walking slowly around the plants, spraying them to keep them cool in the heat and to prevent them wilting.
“We put in some real rose bushes, and the strawberries are real too, though they’re glued to the bushes… and the apples are wired to those little trees,” he chuckled. “The man over there with the spray is keeping the plants looking fresh so that they look better on film.”
“So what are you shooting?” I inquired, rather nosily.
“It’s a commercial for Homebase, a UK-based home-improvement store. It’s like a garden and home kind of store. We’re trying to show that you can build your home anywhere with the things you buy from them. We finished shooting at the docks recently, and we’re shooting here today still, and then we’re going out to Parow to build a house in a pool – without water, of course!”
“So you’re coming all the way to South Africa to shoot here?”
“Yes, well, it’s winter over there right now!”
“Yes, quite! Snow and everything.”
“Right, and the ad is coming out in spring, so that’s why we’re shooting it here.”
Then he said a very friendly “see you later”, and walked over to the camera crew, who seemed to be coordinating the various activities on the set with waving hands.It didn’t look as though they were going to be shooting anytime soon, so I walked to the shops – and the DVD store – to get some ingredients for another lonely dinner at home, just me and the cat. 😦
On my way back, I stopped by the set again. I hung around for a while, hoping that they’d finally shoot something so all the waiting would be worthwhile.
At last, the director called “Background – …. – action,” and there was a flurry of activity, before he shouted “Cut!” The ‘father’ was opening and closing the braai, the ‘mother’ was pouring glasses of cooldrink, and two cute little girls with pretty hats scampered around the garden, chasing each other and playing various games. Despite the heat, they had a surprising amount of energy! In the background, a man with a ladder was setting it up near the Wendy house, climbing up, and climbing down again, putting the ladder on his shoulder and then marching off to the edge of the traffic circle. Everyone had to repeat the same actions lots of times, before they stopped for a break.
Eventually, the heat was making both me and my fruit and veggies wilt, so I headed home.
So now you know where the new Homebase ad was shot! Right here in sunny South Africa!