On why Lebogang was so suited for this project, Egg Films’ Producer Julia Schnurr comments: ‘Lebo has been making adverts and documentaries for a while, more than anyone in the game, so he understands the aesthetic demands of commercials and the human factor of commercials and in this project, he got to exercise both disciplines. He also has a knack for getting people to trust him and open up to him from the beginning.’
On set for ‘Home’ outside of Jamestown Cafe in Accra, L to R: Camera Assistant Carlmax Gbormittah, DOP Christopher Gill and Director Lebogang Rasethaba.
Q: You directed the episode of Home set in South Africa titled ‘House of the Big Arch’ and another set in Ghana titled ‘Inno-Native House’, how would you describe the two episodes?
Lebogang: I wouldn’t describe them, I would rather encourage people to watch them. But if I had to, I would say the South African ep features an incredible house built in an environment populated with a trillion trees and they didn’t break a single branch in the construction of the house. This is the exact opposite of how we normally build houses. In the episode from Ghana, we meet a maverick architect who is canvassing for the use of local building materials instead of cement, which is part of a colonial hangover. Local materials are more appropriate for the weather, and it’s actually something that’s been there for millennia, it’s about celebrating Africa for its inherent genius.
Q: How did this project come about?
Lebogang: It was one of the silver linings of the pandemic, I guess. Normally on a production like this Apple and A24 would have used their team who worked on season 1 but because of travel restrictions they looked for local suppliers and they found us via the almighty internet. We pitched on the job and here we are.
Q: Was there anything that specially drew you to the project?
Lebogang: The South African episode was especially moving to me because we seldom get to hear stories like this, beautiful human stories that aren’t political, especially in the documentary format.
Q: What was one of the most memorable moments of the shoot for you?
Lebogang: The people in the films invited me into their homes and shared their most private moments with me. I made long life bonds with them, I made friends.
On set for ‘Home’ on a teak farm in Akosombo, L to R: Director Lebogang Rasethaba and Producer Julia Schnurr.
Q: As a talented commercial director, what is the difference between directing for a series like this versus a big brand ad?
Lebogang: Well, it’s different in that you aren’t selling a product, but rather a view, a perspective, a philosophy. And for that to happen you need to make the characters feel so much more comfortable because they are sharing so much more intimately of themselves, which means you need to give a lot more of yourself as a director. Fostering a real honest connection between myself and the people sharing of themselves was integral to extracting their beautiful stories.
On a practical level, on something like Home you are working with much smaller crews compared to commercials, so everyone has to be a lot more hands on. Individual crew roles kind of disappear and you just have everyone doing everything, you have to be constantly communicating, it’s highly collaborative.
Q: What were some practical challenges you ran into for this shoot?
Lebogang: In the South Africa episode, one night while packing gear, the crew literally ran into a few cobras and couldn’t get in and out of their rooms. I guess this is another reason why you build homes high up in the trees.
Egg’s Producer Julia Schnurr added about the production: ‘Seeing our local crew and the international teams work so well together and at the same level of standard made me feel proud about our industry in South Africa.’
Wanna (s)talk some more? Egg Films on IDIDTHAT and Company Website.