By Ayanda Xaba, South Africa
The following weekend was presentation weekend. My team and I used the week to sharpen the story and we were happy with it. My fellow writer Thomas did the full script while I did the technical stuff – synopsis, treatment etc. Thomas took the responsibility of presenting to the whole group and as expected they loved the script! It was a win for the writing team. Now the challenge was for the rest of the production team to make our vision come to life. Thomas joined the directors (a sensible move) and the other writers joined the cast as extras. I took on the role of managing the whole production. Huge, I know, but I was ready for the challenge. I pretended not to look for my beloved photographer when we arrived but I could only fool myself for so long. She was late. But she came! When she walked in I felt my whole body tingle. I was with my friend, Masesi, who was the reason I was involved in this project to begin with. She dragged me to the first meeting. I should be grateful to her but hey, I can’t give her a reason to gloat. Naturally the beautiful lady joined the group of photographers and I got held up drawing budgets. Miraculously she was allocated to the team that will be doing location scouting. I couldn’t believe my luck! Those people had to come to me for transport money and to identify locations. Me! She would be working directly with me! Okay. Deep breath. Focus.
On the following Monday we all got to work. The location team arrived at the flat first thing in the morning. The flat was going to be part of the production as well. Yeah I know, so many commitments! They arrived just as I finished getting ready. I had pink short, a white t-shirt and my usual accessory of beads. Beads tell a story. They express the mood, they connect one to the beginning while directing one to the future… Okay let me not get started on beads.
The two scouts arrived first and called me to fetch them downstairs. I grabbed my slippers and ran out. God bless the Durban weather! The moment you’re kissed by the sun and touched by the sea breeze you know it is going to be a good day. That April morning of 2016, I felt good. It was going to be a good day. Just as I settled Bule and Sbu in my lounge, she calls Bule and asks to be fetched downstairs. I actually let Bule fetch her because I was dying with nerves. I had to be cool when she came in. As Bule left I went to put final touches on my make up and made coffee. She walked in and shouted; “Hey Mimi! You look beautiful!”
Mimi, yes that’s me. I don’t know what my parents where thinking when they named me Mimi. As a teenager I had to deal with my schoolmates teasing me because of those cartoons called ‘what about Mimi’. Yes, what about me?
Like a tornado she blew me away. She felt right at home and started taking pictures of the apartment. Afterwards we all sat down for some coffee and good conversations. Her name is Lethabo, a fine Basotho princess. Originally from Maseru in Lesotho, she came to South Africa to study and pursue her career. Never had I been so grateful for Lesotho! Lethabo was such a joy. Everyone enjoyed being around her. She was friendly to everybody, even random strangers. I fell in love with her about a hundred times that day alone. Have you ever loved a person so much it starts to hurt you inside? That’s how I left that April day in 2016. We toured the city looking for perfect locations for the shoot. It wasn’t hard and all these places are ready for such projects – all within reach. We ended up just having a fun day out and got a quick bite before calling it a day. Lethabo and I established a connection that day. I didn’t tell her how I felt but I think she saw it. I also think I got a vibe from her too.
You have to understand that I am shy when it comes to expressing my feelings. All I did that day was take pictures of her again but not once mentioned the love burning me inside. I couldn’t ruin the day with such hectic stuff. So when did I finally get the guts to do it? That’s a funny story. Maybe I never did. Those next few days I had more meetings with the location team before turning my attention to the arts department. Managing a production is such hectic work! That too when it was my very first management job. The location team was a breeze to work with but I wasn’t having that much luck with the actors. We had a bunch of struggling experienced actors with big egos and even bigger expectations. In fact; all departments were okay except for the actors. As soon as I realized this I tried ignoring them as much as I can and left the directors to deal with them. I just had to make sure that wardrobe was on point, as well as the catering. Everything else sort of fell into place. Except that tiny fight with my friend and line manager, Masesi. I wish I could explain what exactly happened there but I also don’t know. One moment we were in it together and the next we are arguing about requisitions and she quits. She quits her first ever production because of a bad joke I did about buying a bag for a shoot! I still can’t believe that was the real reason for her quitting but that’s all I have. Masesi introduced me to these people. She forced me to join the municipal project, and it was her who nominated me for the management position. Why then would she quit? We can never know. Trust me when I tell you that working with creative people is the most difficult job you will ever get.
Juggling the production and my own projects proved to be a bit of a hassle but that’s how we grow right? I have to be honest; that was one of the most exciting moments in my life. I was Mimi the production manager, on top of all the writing gigs I had at that time. I even appreciated the difficult actors. While we were busy with preparing for the shoot I got an offer to do a radio gig. Amazing right? One of their newsreaders was going on maternity leave so I was called to fill in for those three/four months. Everything was going so well so it wouldn’t have been too optimistic of me to think that I actually stood a chance with Lethabo. The catch was this: the radio gig was outside of Durban in Dundee, my hometown. I had to leave the city immediately after the film shoot. I didn’t mind missing the post-production action but I knew if I wanted to get a chance with Lethabo I had to make my move -fast.
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