Monthly Archives: July 2009

From Peter Lansdown – Production Assistant in Zomba – Part 1

The Zomba teamThe team in Malawi is now complete, the last three flew in last Wednesday to big welcomes from Elspeth and Moncho – and were asleep before you could say Knife!

Elspeth is our Producer, Co-script writer and Camera 2 and in overall charge, liaising with our local partners YONECO. Colin is our Director, Editor and God, a status rather exemplified by his somewhat Buddha-like figure which commands great respect!

Moncho, Director of Photography and Assistant Producer, is from Spain, but has lived in London for 15 years and loves it! Fraser, quiet Scot from Ayrshire, is the Sound Designer and Assistant Editor. Lumbani is our local Production Manager and is invaluable – as is Mafumu, our lively and versatile drama advisor.

Colin’s first task was to finalise the cast. Having arrived on the Wednesday evening, Thursday and Friday were spent auditioning the short list already selected by Mafumu and Elspeth. That evening saw Colin and Elspeth going over and over the audition clips trying to match characters to plot. In the end, everybody agreed with Colin’s choice, and young Effie and her role model Elena are absolute sweeties.

With the Director at last in place, there has been lots of discussion and planning, just so important considering the number of people involved: schools, village chiefs, city and district assemblies, parents, teachers, home owners who are lending their houses, the cemetery authorities for one of the shots and so on and so on… Everything needs someone’s permission, and the appropriate release forms need to be signed. Lumbani’s time is fully taken up. “Laid back” isn’t quite the expression for the way things happen here, but “last minute” does seem to be. Elspeth will not rest easy till everything is in place – and with shooting starting next Monday, there is not long before that has to be!

As I write, there are volumes of animated chatter coming from the dining room as Colin and Moncho plan out the scenes. The table is covered with Post-it notes and the details get longer and longer…