New South African film, A Lucky Man, tells the true story of legendary ex-gang boss, Ernie “Lastig’ Solomon. Mark Fyfe, producer of the movie, says the film concept emerged from discussions with Solomon. “The story of his obsession with finding his own identity gripped us and begged to be captured on film,’ says Fyfe.
He mentions that Solomon is now a man of substantial stature within his community, so following the twists and turns of the decisions Solomon made that brought him to this point is a fascinating journey.
However, what makes A Lucky Man even more extraordinary is that it is believed to be the first feature film to premiere exclusively on a social network. Mxit users were able to download the movie using the newly launched Cinemo app from 18 February 2013. A Lucky Man showed on Mxit in 18 four-minute episodes with a new episode that was uploaded every weekday.
Solomon wanted to give people in the community in the poverty-stricken Cape Flats in the Western Cape the opportunity to work on the movie – as opposed to outsiders who would not have the same appreciation for the complexity, the nuances and dynamics that play out in these communities.
“It is a story of intrigue and complicated cultural ethos, laced with simple human emotions from our backyard of which we know so little. Very few people understand what happens in the Cape Flats on a daily basis,’ comments Fyfe.
The film was shot on location in the actual neighbourhoods where Solomon grew up, namely Elsies River and Hawston. As it was difficult to film the prison scenes, the team found an old reform school in Tokai which they transformed to create a prison environment.
As the crew wanted to keep the movie as authentic as possible, they shot in an actual inhabited environment and encountered a significant degree of noise and activity on the street by mid-morning due to high unemployment in the area. This meant they had to shoot extremely early, an arrangement that worked well.
A Lucky Man will resonate with local and international audiences says Fyfe. “It provides some facet of revelation about the South African landscape and it is a universal story about identity and coming of age,’ he mentions.
“The whole shoot felt like a highlight. Every day was one single on-going journey of understanding, growth and collaboration for all concerned,’ concludes Fyfe.
The movie, directed and written by Gordon Clarke, releases nationwide in South Africa on 29 March and is distributed by Indigenous Films.
By Martie Bester
screen africa magazine – march 2013