Daniel Dercksen talks to producer Brad Logan.
Brad Logan studied Film and Theatre at Santa Monica College and New York University. He moved into the professional side of film production in 1998 in Los Angeles with Watermelon Productions, where he worked with the likes of Leonardo di Caprio and Brad Pitt on major advertising campaigns for the Asian market. Moving back to SA, Brad opened BLM productions in 2003, as a full service producer for both commercials and photographic productions, producing throughout Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands exclusively for the International market. BLM productions grew exponentially, and is now the most prolific service company in KZN. The BLM client base has grown tremendously and can count some of the biggest brands and advertising agencies in the world as repeat clients.
You must be a very proud father?
I am. Our little baby is born and getting old very quickly. (laughs) Growing up fast.
How did you get involved with Spud? What started the whole process?
I've known Ross Garland since 1993. We were at University together. I went over to America while he was at Oxford and by chance, we met up again in 2005 when he was finishing up U- Carmen eKhayelitsha, and I had a film and production company. We had similar interests at that stage of the game. About a year after that we got in contact again by chance in London at a mutual friend's house and he told me that he had optioned the rights to Spud, which I loved. I was pretty blown away by the book and also thought it would make a great movie. We started chatting around draft 3. I was based in Durban (still am based in Durban) and started chatting to Ross about how I could kind of help in any way. I basically offered myself up on a platter and slowly but surely I ended up becoming one of the four Horsemen, as we like to call ourselves (Don Marsh, Johan van der Ruit, Ross Garland and myself). We started working on the project from then. For me it had been a period of about two-and-a-half years now.
You have spent a substantial amount of time on the development of the script and did not rush Spud in any way?
Between the three of us - John van de Ruit wrote the book - but I am talking about the film process, I guess we could afford to in some respects, because we had other things keeping us going. I don't know if other people are ever in that kind of similar position. They may have to rush the projects through because they don't have enough money to continue with it. We had bridge financing in place, we knew we had a fair amount of time to really get the script right and the casting process right. I don't know if it is luck, that's just the situation we were in. We had the time to work and polish and to get it to the position it's in now. We shot, I think, draft twenty six, so that's a fair amount of work that goes into a script. It's Hollywood standard.
It is also a project that is personal and close to your heart? A project you are passionate about?
Very passionate about. I went to a school called Highbury, which is a feeder school to Michaelhouse and I ended up at a school called Cursley, which is in KwaZulu Natal. So I grew up in this era. I matriculated in 1991. This book is set in 1990. It has so much resonance for me on so many different levels. And as a filmmaker as well it just put me on a whole other stratosphere. I was just so much in love with this project.
Are there any of the characters you can relate to in Spud?
(laughs) All the guys are there. If you are talking about me personally, the guys say that I am a combination of Vern and Rambo, which is quite extreme if you know the books and the movie. I am not entirely sure if I am exactly like anyone of them specifically, but a combination of Vern and Rambo is probably where I slot in there.
What for you as a producer is the most important ingredient of a screenplay?
The story. Pace. I find that so many movies lag in the areas that just make you drop out of them. I never found that with this script. I felt that we had the pacing in the script which made it incredibly shootable. That's what I look for in scripts. Movies that have pace. You can tell that story and get into it and get you out. An hour-and-a-half in this day and age where we're such immediate clarification junkies, I really do feel that that's the capacity most audiences have, unless you have some other Braveheart or just two hours of eye candy. Or Avatar, where you can sit through two-and-a-half hours and be enthralled by whatever is happening on the screen . These smaller movies, if you like, they definitely need pace.
What do you think is responsible for Spud mania?
It's a coming-of-age story so people relate to it on different levels. You are either going through it as a teenager reading the book, or as an adult , kind of mid thirties (my age), you've been through it, it is still quite fresh for you. It just reminds you of what those days were like. And with the older people, the memories just come flooding back to you. I don't think that is ever going to change, going through adolescence, no matter how advance we get in this world and everything around us (the technology), you still get down to the nitty gritty of that adolescence, and those feelings, I don't think they are ever going to change you know. Trying to fit in, trying to find your place in the frenetic life that we live in.
What was a highlight for you during the filming?
Working with John Cleese. Working with Troye Sivan. Both incredibly talented actors. John just brought this wealth of experience to this movie. That's why we got it. And Troye was a revelation to us. We were very confident going into this movie that we had found the right boy to play Spud and he just proved it to us, time and time again, day in and day out. That was wonderful seeing that happen. We also had a fantastic crew. The whole thing, everything. Every day was a highlight for me. Working with those two was amazing and then everything else coming together just made this a very well rounded production.
What do you hope local audiences will get from watching Spud?
I want people to just go and enjoy themselves. I think this movie has enough in it for everyone. You should be able to sit through the 100 minutes and really be entertained on all different levels. It got pathos, it's got humour. It's got a little bit of violence if you like. It's love, life and everything in between .
Any special thoughts on making Spud?
I had no bad experiences. We had highs and lows, but getting into it, and raising the financing for it, and getting the casting right, it was a lot of hard work that went into it, to get us to that level, but shooting this movie was a dream. I've been on quite a few movies in my relatively short career, and this was a whole new experience
After the release of the film, what is it that you are taking home with you?
I want to make Spud 2 (laughs). That's the dreams, to finish the series.
It seems that this will South Africa's first trilogy?
It seems that way. Let's just hope the audiences come out and support us. This is a truly wonderful South African production. This is a true homegrown product. We feel this movie will hold its own internationally.
Copyright © Daniel Dercksen/ The Writing Studio. All rights reserved.
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