Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mma Ramotswe: Tourism Boom Offering

source: allAfrica
The Voice (Francistown)

21 August 2007
Posted to the web 21 August 2007

Chedza Simon

When filming of the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency (MmaRamotswe) movie is complete, Botswana may become a tourist hub, resembling setting areas where the Da Vince Code was filmed in Rome.

Johnny Breedt, Head of Production Design, who is responsible for setting up model villages, market areas and infrastructure where certain sets of the movie are shot, said when the movie is complete, the infrastructure shall be protected so that tourists from all over the world could visit and generate revenue for the country.

"After the movie is complete, the infrastructure shall be kept and protected for tourist attraction. The plan is to have the No.1 Ladies tour and in the future, the locations will be able to take in a lot of people who visit the country. This film has generated a lot of interest for Botswana and from my knowledge, tourists are already coming here to view the sites. Botswana will be like Rome, where a lot of people are visiting to see the Da Vince Code movie setting locations," said Breedt.

He said they invested around P5 million to set up the 25 locations around the country. According to him, most of the locations are in Gaborone and the northern part of the country. "Some of these locations are bars, villages with huts and other buildings. There is a hospital model facility at Ben Thema School, Eros Bar and the Speedy Motors in Tlokweng. Some of the sets will be made at Gweta, the Makgadikgadi Pans and Maun. These settings shall be maintained for a number of series, may be until next year because they are made to last between 4 to 5 years," said the Head of production design.

The areas, he said, will be [continue reading]

Mma Ramotswe Movie: The Funeral is Fake, But the Tears Are Real

source: Time
Monday, Aug. 20, 2007 By ALEX PERRY

By my count, we've mourned Obed Ramotswe 12 times this morning, and I'm not the only one feeling slightly overcome. His daughter, Precious, has cried her way through 12 renditions of the Botswanan funeral spiritual "Your Yoke Is Light To Carry," and when I approach her, she tearfully waves me away, saying: "I have to stay where I am." Several members of the congregation also look like they can't go on. Even the Western PR executive next to me, a veteran of hundreds of scenes like this, tells me she's finding the whole thing "really quite moving."

It's Day 30 on the 50-day shoot of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, based on the best-selling novel series by Alexander McCall Smith. One of the watchwords of the production is authenticity, which has led director Anthony Minghella to shoot the film in Botswana — a first for this tiny southern African nation — and to involve its people as much as possible. Today's scene is the culmination of months of talks with the villagers of Gabane, 15km (10 miles) outside the capital, Gaborone. First they had to be asked for permission for a film to be made on their land. Then they needed to be told that the particular scene Minghella wanted to shoot there was a funeral. And then, of course, they had to be persuaded to show up as extras.

The negotiations were handled by Bakang "B.K." Bala, a molecular biologist and sometime safari guide who is acting as cultural advisor to Minghella. According to the traditional Batswana khotla system, he made a presentation to the village chiefs, then [continue reading]

Interview: On The Road with Alexander McCall Smith

By Craig Morgan Teicher -- Publishers Weekly, 8/20/2007 1:53:00 AM

Having been born in what is now Zimbabwe and worked as a law professor in Botswana, and now living in Scotland, Alexander McCall Smith is no stranger to far away places. His bestselling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency mystery series, set in Botswana, has inspired worldwide loyalty among fans, and huge sales. To promote the eighth book in the series, The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, Smith is doing several tours this year, which are taking him all over the world. PW caught up with Smith in New York City to talk about book tours in many nations, the salvation of the novel, and the similarities between Sweden and Boston.

You’ve done this a number of times before and have a huge fan base made up of people who know a lot about the series. What are the events like?

I think it certainly helps if [continue reading]

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Alexander McCall Smith: The day the No1 Ladies' Detective Agency came to life

source: Daily Mail UK

By Alexander McCall Smith
Last updated at 22:54pm on 18th August 2007

I suppose it's a sign of travelling too much to wake up in a static bed and think: 'We must be flying through an area of smooth air – no turbulence.'

That's what I think now, on coming to, and then I hear the cooing of doves in the jacaranda tree outside.

Through the window comes the bright sunlight that fills the air of this African winter morning. The morning air is cool, but has the quality of champagne: sharp, exhilarating, intoxicating.
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Friday, August 17, 2007

Mogae visits Mma Ramotswe set

source: Botswana Press Agency
16 August, 2007

GABORONE - President Festus Mogae visited the production set of the The No1. Ladies Detective Agency film to briefly witness the shooting first hand.

Mr Mogae met with local and foreign actors who are bringing McCall Smiths enchanting characters to life.

Among them was Jill Scott who stars as Mma Ramotswe, the series heroine, Desmond Dube, Anika Noni Rose who play quirky secretary Mma Makutsi and film director, Anthony Minghella.

He was taken on a tour of the set by Production Set Designer, Johnny Breedt, who explained that the buildings were inspired by existing establishments in Lobatse, Serowe, Mahalapye and Gaborone.

Breedt said he used the worn out paint to give the buildings the 1960s and 70s look. President Mogae expressed optimism that the film will be successful and enlighten people about Botswana.

He also expressed hope that it will go a long way to repair the countrys image, which has been tarnished by the CKGR issue.

A local film producer Moabi Mogorosi of Hot Chilli said being part of the film production is a learning experience not only for him but for the country and all Batswana who are involved.

He said what he has realised is the broadness of film making, which pays attention to coordination of all the aspect involved, including set designing, costumes, props, lighting and music.

Every day is a learning experience. One gets to realise that film making is not only about how one captures the action into film but the best coordination involved to achieve the desired result.

Mr Mogorosi has been engaged to make a documentary of how the film was made, experiences of [continue reading]

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Batswana Find Right Niche in Film Production

source: allAfrica
Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)

8 August 2007
Posted to the web 8 August 2007

Maureen Odubeng

Contrary to views held by many about the No1 Ladies Detective Agency film currently being shot in the country that locals have been given a raw deal, the cast and crew include many Batswana.

Following an invitation by film publicist Joy Sapieka, Showbiz has discovered that the film producers have involved quite a number of locals in the project. While the film is being directed by renowned director Anthony Minghella, many Batswana are getting first hand training in film making through their active involvement in production. At the same time, a good number of local actors/actresses have found themselves a suitable niche in both speaking roles and extras (non-speaking roles).

Speaking to Mma-Ramotswe producer Amy Moore, Showbiz learnt that [continue reading]

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Jill Ain`t the Only One

source: allAfrica

The Voice (Francistown)

7 August 2007
Posted to the web 7 August 2007

Naledi Mokgwathi

By now we all know Hollywood is in town. The screen adaptation of Alexander McCall Smith's No.1 Lady Detective is currently being shot.

In fact the shooting of the movie, Ma Ramotswe, which set the Botswana taxpayer about P30 million, is about to fold.

Also, by now, Jill Scot is the name many are familiar with. We know she is not only the American pop star, but Ma Ramotswe in person, on the screen in fact.

We also know there is a white lady from Hollywood, Amy Moore, who when she arrived here, told all those who cared to listen that she "loves" Botswana, and still reminisces of the Peace Corps days in Mahalapye, Maun and wherever else she has been. And of course, though many of us have little or no trust in the sangoma powers, the film producer has told all and sundry that she consulted some matwetwe about the prospect of the movie when she arrived. Strange world!

And yes, we have had hints there and there of who of the aspiring Hollywood stars from GC are. But who are they really, and what are they doing there.

There are many, some having gotten some nice little contracts, while some are just happy to know their backs will whiz through our screens once the movie is out. We hear the likes of our own Kgosi Goodwill (of the Fashion Twinz) and his beautiful wife, former editor Morongwa Phala, are busy with something there. And of course the music producer, media activist, former Gabz FM morning show host, Mudhut director, Solomon "Solo B" Monyame, is fiddling with some music equipment.

We know there are there, but we will know what they were doing there for sure when Amy Moore and company show their product on screen.

The Voice sneaked in, dug and found three individuals ready to spill the beans on their roles.

Talented radio and television presenter, Gloria Kgosi is continuing her journey by spreading her wings in [continue reading]

Movie Shooting, a Memorable Experience

source: Filmmaker South Africa

Making a movie, a far away experience for most locals has been brought right to our doorstep. The Hollywood production Mma Ramotswe, which is currently being shot in Botswana, is a whole new experience for many locals and indeed a good development in the country's movie industry. by Maureen Odubeng
The crew members have set up their areas of shooting, the most prominent probably being the small village/semi town built just as you enter Kgale View. The buildings simulate the African Mall in the olden days.

To someone who does not know, the buildings look like they have been standing for a long time yet they were built only recently. Only Mma Ramotswe's office has some fresh paint.

Seeing scenes being shot is quite an exciting experience. In a nutshell, the cast and crew are always as busy as a bee, as theirs is a race against time. Movement of visitors during the time of shooting is restricted to avoid disturbances.

The preparation for the shooting is intense, and has to be done only by professionals. While actors prepare themselves, getting into the right costumes and make-up, the production crew are arranging their equipment to make sure everything is in order before the actual shooting begins.

The current location is dusty and with a lot of movement, the dust can be choking but that does not deter the committed crew. The lead actress, Jill Scott, has people they call stand-ins, who include local musician/rapper Desma Basson, musically known as Ice Queen. Her role is to test microphones, camera lighting, for the star (Jill Scott). The role of stand-in ends there - and she does not appear anywhere in the movie. As we watched the shooting, publicist Joey Sapieka explained that a stand-in in movies should not be confused with theatrical understudies as they cannot sit in for the actor in case the actor is not feeling well or should anything happen to the actor or actress.

As everything has to be perfect, the stand-in is dressed in [continue reading]

Monday, August 6, 2007

Film to boost Morwaanares business

source: Botswana Press Agency
06 August, 2007

GABORONE - Being an extra in the film and television series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is more than just acting but a business opportunity for Barati Morwaanare.

The 32-year-old plays the part of a street food vendor in the movie. What gives her an added edge is the fact that the role she plays is what she does in real life.

She confessed in an interview that being engaged for nine days to be part of the film provides a lifetime opportunity for her.

She sees her appearance in the film not only as monetary benefit but a marketing opportunity for her business. I consider this as a business opportunity as I will be paid P2400 for all the nine days, she said.

Asked how she intends to invest the money, she said her plan is to use part of the money to buy a Hotdog machine, adding, My idea is to expand business wise.

Ms Morwaanare said she does not usually make that much within nine days because when most of her customers have ran short of cash, she usually offers meals on credit. In real life she has been running her business for three years at a blue and white caravan nicknamed Ngalaoboe Tuck-shop. It is located at Gaborone West Industrial near Mega Tyre.

Her presence at the set as a food street vendor gives the simulated Kgale Shopping Centre a fascinating aspect of urban social life.

Her dark green painted caravan located just by [continue reading]

Friday, August 3, 2007

Scott relishes Mma Ramotswe

source: Mmegi


Jill Scott, the star playing the lead role in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, does not take the role as a character. She has made the character she is playing a part of her. In an interview, Scott, who is currently in the middle of filming, said she talked to the director of the movie and award winner Anthony Mingella that Mma Ramotswe should be a regular person.

Scott, who felt she was lucky to have beaten all those who auditioned to play the role of Mma Ramotswe is more than passionate about her character in the movie.
"Mma Ramotswe is great, she is a strong brave woman," Scott said excitedly.

Mma Ramotswe, the character, apart from being a strong and brave woman, is doing something out of the ordinary, and Scott notes that anyone would be happy to play such a character. When talking about the character, one can see that Scott really enjoys playing the role. She said while Mma Ramotswe was doing something out of the ordinary, she was at the same a very gentle being.

"I don't know if I have done [continue reading]

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Lead Actress Checks in At Marina

source: allAfrica
Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)

1 August 2007
Posted to the web 1 August 2007

Monkagedi Gaotlhobogwe

Jill Scott, the US R&B singer who is in Botswana for the shooting of the No.1 Lady's Detective Agency, had a taste of Botswana hospital facilities after being admitted to Princess Marina Hospital last week.

The filming of Mma-Ramotswe suffered a setback when the lead actress was bed-ridden, according to unit publicist Joy Sapieka.

Scott spent a few days at Princess Marina after a chest infection last Thursday, forcing her to temporarily halt her shooting. Sapieka told Showbiz that Scott, who plays the famous character in Alexander McCall Smith's novel, was one of the worst hit by flu that also affected other members of the film crew.

"She returned Monday morning for the shooting, she had not been too well, and was in hospital. A lot of crew members, including myself, had bouts of flu from last week," Sapieka said.

The publicist suspects the dusty environment was responsible for the infection. "It is dusty here all the time, she must have got it because of the dust," Sapieka said. She however would not indicate to what extent the bug had affected their filming schedule.

The movie is scheduled for [continue reading]

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

`Ladies` Detective` film brings Tinsel Town to tiny Botswana

source: The Christian Science Monitor

Alexander McCall Smith's hit book series set in Botswana is bringing big-screen money the African country.

By Stephanie Hanes | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the August 1, 2007 edition

Page 1 of 4

Gaborone, Botswana - Until Hollywood came to town, work was scarce for Botswana film producer Portia Molebedi Sorinyane. Her home country of dust and diamonds was her inspiration; but if she wanted a job, she had to cross the border into South Africa.

"There is no film industry here, so if you want to eat you need to move somewhere else," she says from behind a pair of trendy, oversized sunglasses.

But that, she hopes, is changing. This month, filming started on the first international movie ever to be shot in Botswana – The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, a movie based on Alexander McCall Smith's hit book series of the same name.

This means that Ms. Sorinyane has a gig as an assistant producer. It also means that her country of 1.7 million, whose economy is almost entirely dependent on diamond mining, may be the latest nation to cash in on Tinseltown's Africa fad and launch a lucrative new industry.

In many ways, it is fitting that the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency should be the launch of a film industry here. Mr. McCall Smith's series is set in Botswana, and focuses on the character Precious Ramotswe, a plucky, "traditionally-built" detective who solves fraud and misdeeds in Gabarone, the capital city.

The feel-good books exploded in popularity after Sept. 11, 2001 – they have been translated into 40 different languages and sold more than 15 million copies.

If all goes as planned, the movie will expand into a BBC series.

Seven years ago, when McCall Smith talked to producer Amy J. Moore about turning the series into a movie, both assumed that it would be shot in Botswana – the country that gives the story its flavor.

"We'd always talked about wanting to [continue reading]