Photos from Set! – The Journey Begins

Posted by on Aug 20, 2015 in Dan Eldon Legacy


Long Journey to “Journey.”  We begin tomorrow with our wonderful young cast led by Ben Schnetzer as Dan and Ella Purnell playing Amy.  I’ll send pics from the location (a 20 minute hike away from our trucks).  Here is the first day’s production sheet – I will frame it.


Here’s the real Student Transport Aid Team – aka “Team Deziree.”  Scriptwriters Jan Sardi (nominated for an Academy Award for “Shine,” and our brilliant director, Bronwen Hughes), cut the team in half for the feature film (there were just too many wonderful characters to follow.).  Two of the original team members, Elinor Tatum and Marte Ramborg, will be meeting their young counterparts on location next week in Joburg.  It’s a strange experience to be depicted on-screen, as I have discovered in the past day as I have watched Maria Bello flap around, hugging everyone in sight.


“Journey” Film Art Director Charlie Henderson lovingly re-created Dan’s desk, complete with ink bottles, calligraphy pens, heaps of photos and photo-copies, newspaper clippings, random art supplies and even the skin of a nameless reptile.  It felt as though I had stepped in a time-warp when I saw his room, which looked exactly as though Dan had been called away for a moment, but would soon return…


Watching Ella Purnell, Maria Bello and Ben Schnetzer play Amy, Dan and me is a deeply moving, (and totally weird!) experience, as each of them has captured the essence of each of us.  Mike Eldon’s alter-ego, South African actor and former teacher, Ter Hollmann, has named Mike’s lightness of touch – and his crisp intelligence.  It’s surreal for sure, but we feel safe with Bronwen Hughes’s exquisite writing and direction – based on Jan Sardi’s extraordinary story and script.  We are very lucky to be surrounded by such a supportive crew, cast – and our ever-present – Team Spirit.


Shooting at an apartment building in Joburg which is a stand-in for my Maidavale flat in London (it also resembles my Belsize Park 3rd floor walk-up).  Check out the green screen in front which will be used to project London onto during post production.  It was during this shoot that I confronted a drawing from my past… Stay tuned!


When I was very sad after leaving Africa and so much more, I went through a terribly dark time.  I found that drawing helped me find my balance again.  As I grew stronger, one day I decided to paint the figures of four women and a baby (representing the promise of the future) on a wall in my flat in Madavale.  I hadn’t realized that the same figures would appear as part of a pivotal scene between the character of Kathy and Dan.

Here are the women as I saw them at the set this morning – half painted around a sketch of a bird, lifted from one of my journals.  The bird, which is just beginning to stretch its wings, will be completed with the world ‘HOPE’ written beneath it.  In truth, it takes more than hope to succeed in any endeavor – or in love.  We must fully commit our hearts and souls – and then trust that the outcome is all right, even if it is not what we envisioned.  We must stay true to who we are – and allow others to live their truth – no matter what.  That’s the message of JOURNEY – hard won.


I do a double-take every time I pass by the trailer with my name on it – and realize that it’s for the Other Kathy Eldon, Maria Bello!


Ben Schnetzer is looking and acting more and more like Dan Eldon as the shoot progresses.  I have to smile every time I see this talented and highly intelligent young man who seems to be channeling Dan’s nosey spirit.  Ben is pictured here with Jessica Sutton who, together with McKarah Dreyfus, is shooting videos and stills for our “Journey” team.

Please know that I’ve had desperately sad years grieving Dan and other treasured members of my Karass, but tonight I am focusing on feeling grateful for the time that I’ve shared with those whom I have loved so deeply.  Please know that during your moments of deepest sorrow that one day you will find joy again.  So never give up… Never give in…  Never, never, never!  Thank you Winston…


Costume Designer, Ruy Filipe, one of the most evolved and kind people I have ever met, together with his talented Ikaya team members, costume supervisor, Maleen Nokel and assistant Zanele Mhlanga, worked miracles yesterday, outfitting 300 extras to look like tattered Mozambican refugees, circa 1990.  Ruby flowed through the crowds, re-tying kikois, tearing and draping with consummate skill – always with a twinkle in his eye.  I’m in awe of Ruy – and his Ikaya base-camp, a string of five houses jammed with costumes from every era – and every part of the world.


I’ll be meeting Sonyanga today on set!  So excited to see Kenyans here.


Abby Quinn has the joy of portraying Marte Ramborg, a dear friend of Dan’s, in our film, Journey.  Today, they spoke together on set about life, love — and transformation.  Two gorgeous women, inside and out.


The young cast of Journey celebrating the fact that Deziree was working that day.  She, like her predecessor, is highly temperamental.  Read more about her – and the real characters in “The Journey is the Destination,” “Safari as a Way of Life,” or my memoir, “In the Heart of Life.”  Can you spot the real Marte Ramborg and Elinor Tatum in the group?


Please meet actress Elaa Purnell, who exquisitely and gracefully plays Amy in Journey, exquisitely and gracefully dressed by our costume designer Ruy Filipe, who even added a necklace of conch shells exactly like the now Amy wore at the original Celebration of Life.  Dan had given necklaces to Amy and her friends when they graduated from the American School in London.  Ella has returned to the UK where this talented young actress and creative activist will begin another film next week.  We will miss her terribly.


I was moved by the extraordinary re-creation of Dan Eldon’s Celebration of Life last week.  Perhaps one of the most remarkable touches was the program created by the Journey Art Department that not only included a photo of Ben Schnetzer (playing Dan Eldon) on the front, but also stories about Dan’s life on the inside.  That attention to detail by every department (Casting, Art, Props, Costumes, to name a few!) is what is making this production truly extraordinary.

Please note the Masai warriors who are members of the Kenya-based “Maasai Cricket Warriors Team,” (check out their Facebook page!) who advocate against FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) across Africa.  One of the team members is studying Digital Media and hopes to become a journalist – and share important stories about his people.  Thank you Bryn Mooser for this photo – and for traveling to South Africa to participate in the Celebration of Life ceremony shoot.