Shooting poachers in South Africa
Production expertise in South Africa is at an all-time high - and the elephants actors are really talented. Phil Rhodes talked to one recent international co-production.
roducer-director Richard Boddington is no stranger to Africa, having shot his last two films there. The first, Against the Wild 2: Survive the Serengeti stars Star Trek alumna Jeri Ryan and is a sequel to the 2013 film Against the Wild, which was produced in Boddington’s home country of Canada. The director’s most recent film is Phoenix Wilder And the Great Elephant Adventure. Starring Elizabeth Hurley and Canadian Sam Ashe Arnold it tells the story about an orphan who takes on a team of poachers with the help of a wild elephant. “The way international treaty co-productions work,” begins Boddington, “is there’s a Canadian producer and one in the country you’re going to shoot in. The script dictated that we shoot in Africa. It’s my second Canada-South Africa co-production. Prior to shooting, you receive approval from
both governments that it’s going to be an international treaty co-production, the two come together and bring everything to the table that the production needs.” This creates a mechanism for this most international of industries to share some of the risk involved in commercial filmmaking, and offers a route to tax rebates which can be more generous than those available to “service” productions, where there is no requirement that a certain amount of work is done in any particular jurisdiction. “If a large American shoot goes into Johannesburg,” Boddington explains, “They receive a tax rebate on their spend at a much lower rate than a co-production does – but then, co-productions are going to be a smaller budget to refund.” The more generous refunds available to fully-accredited co-productions returns
some 35% of the South African spend. In this situation, key production responsibilities must be shared between the countries involved. Boddington continues, “There are strict rules about the workload that is going to be done in each country – you need a certain number of department heads.” On Phoenix Wilder, composer Andries Smit and production designer Bobby Cardoso were South Africans, as is producer Grieg Buckle. “He hired the entire crew – securing the South African actors and basically being in charge of the entire movie with his staff.” “I actually got the idea for Phoenix Wilder - a boy who gets lost in the bush, finds an elephant and they take on the poachers together - when I was in Africa in 2014 to scout Against the Wild 2,” Boddinton recalls. “South Africa is the only first-world, fully operational nation in Africa. There’s two unstable border states, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, where