Disney acquires Schuster film


Principal photography on Mad Buddies, the new film from South African funny man Leon Schuster, was completed in early November. Directed by Gray Hofmeyr the film releases in June 2012.

Distribution rights for the film have been acquired by Disney South Africa although it will not be distributed under the Disney banner.

Schuster believes Disney was attracted to the project because his movies out gross Hollywood blockbusters in South Africa. “Disney looked at some of my previous movies, read this new script and decided they wanted to get involved. And I certainly don’t want to disappoint them.

“The late Jamie Uys taught me the lesson of foreign comedies – minimalise the dialogue because overseas audiences find our diction foreign, and hit them with never-before-seen visual gags. Also, Africa is an intriguing continent. Foreign audiences have not seen many comedies from this “dark’ side of the world involving wild animals, scenic African vistas and two buddies – one black one white – who can’t really be buddies.’

Producer Helena Spring adds: “The power of the Schuster brand is undeniable. Eight films in the top 20 South African box office hits of all time are Leon’s and three of them are in the top five.

“There was a lot of interest generated when this new Schuster film was in the pipeline. We considered a host of different options, however when the opportunity to engage with Disney arose, we were delighted. It’s a dream come true to work with a celebrated and beloved international brand such as Disney.’

Spring stresses that Mad Buddies is a unique and original Schuster screenplay. “Leon draws inspiration from many sources, such as Jamie Uys, as well as comedy classics like the Charlie Chaplin films. He also stays in touch with contemporary work.’

Schuster has always wanted to do a buddy movie. “I’ve seen many road movies where guys travel in a car, but never one where they are thrown together to walk 600kms as penance for bad behaviour towards each other. What they don’t know is that they are being filmed for a reality TV show. Mad Buddies is kind of “candid camera’, without really being candid. This idea has been in my head for many years.’

As for writing scripts in which he plays the main role, Schuster says: “I know my brand and my following so I find it easy to write for myself. Regarding the other characters – as I write I see them before me: I’ve seen Kenneth Nkosi as being my “buddy’ all along ever since I watched White Wedding. He’s big, hefty, with a great paunch and he’s bloody funny!

“From the outset I also saw Tanit Phoenix (Spud) as the “baddy’ in the movie – she’s extremely sexy and has the tools to convince these two buffoons that she is actually the “prize’ if they complete their journey successfully. My good friend Alfred Ntombela (Mama Jack) also stars in the film.’

Mad Buddies was shot on the RED Mysterium in and around Johannesburg as well as KwaZulu-Natal.

Gray Hofmeyr, who directed Schuster’s phenomenally successful Mr Bones franchise as well as Mama Jack, has a longstanding and very successful creative collaboration with the star.

Spring comments: “Gray is a superb director with great experience and insight into what it takes to translate a story from the page to the screen. Leon and Gray co-wrote the script and most of the creative discussion and exploration took place during that process.’

SCREENAFRICA Print Magazine – November 2011 (view here)


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