May 31st 2004
Today is a big day. A call has come through – we are “green lit” and can proceed with the film. After two years of constant worry and fret, we really are going to make this film. And only just in time. Whilst we were busy setting up the shoot, back in the UK my fellow producer, Pippa Cross had been hard at it making sure the finance was in place so we could make the film. It was a tough process for her – trying to finalise a complicated co-production deal (film finance is more complicated than the worst trigonometry and not nearly as much fun – you get the picture) in time for the filming. Because we were on a knife edge we had to get the film made by early September before the rains came which could play havoc with filming. Every day of delay in the UK put back the filming and we were getting terribly close to a point that we would just run out of time for the shoot. We needed eight weeks to film – which meant we had to start filming by the end of July. Any later and we were stuffed. The deal was now in place – Pippa had done it in incredibly short time – a remarkable achievement (it took her six weeks to structure and do the co-production deal. People in the industry had said you need a minimum of twelve weeks. Pippa, not for the first time, proved that there was a lot of bull**** in the film business).
Understandably, the worry for our backers was how we could make a film in Rwanda – which had no film infrastructure and little knowledge about the process of putting together a major feature film. They needn’t have worried. From the moment Michael and I landed again in May we had come across a number of highly talented and motivated Rwandans who were desperate to help. To name just two: Hope Azeda, our tall, languidly beautiful casting director, who had run theatre workshops across Africa and who was confident she could find the people to act in our film, as well as the thousands who would play extras. Juvens Ntampuhwe, law student and outstanding unit manager who managed alongside our line producer, Drew Wood, the Rwandan production. So many impressive Rwandans who joined us on this strange journey – too many to mention. And then there were the British crew – motivated, determined and inspired by what they were seeing around them. Crispin Buxton, for example, our locations manager, marshalled his locations team like an army commander, sending them out into the countryside and around Kigali to find locations for Michael to film in.
-David Belton (producer)