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An Interview with Richard Green, Director of Tokoloshe - The Calling

by Mike Haberfelner

October 2021

Films directed by Richard Green on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Tokoloshe - The Calling - in a few words, what is it about?

 

The Tokoloshe and its relevance to South African audiences.

 

Let's adress the elephant in the room right on top: Tokoloshe - The Calling references Stanley Kubrick's The Shining quite a bit - so why is that (other than because it's one of the most iconic horror movies ever and pretty much everybody's favourite)?

 

It is an homage to my favourite director who spanned so many genres. I got to produce a film with his DOP from Eyes Wide Shut down here in Africa, Red Dust.

 

Other sources of inspiration when writing Tokoloshe - The Calling?

 

Budget – think about it, a 3 hander in one location!

 

What can you tell us about your co-writer Arish Sirkissoon, and what was your collaboration like?

 

Arish is a master of promoting and selling, but more than that he never gave up on the film and always insisted on a positive spin.

 

Do talk about Tokoloshe - The Calling's approach to horror!

 

Well we have a fantastic character – the Tokoloshe – which still scares the hell out of many South Africans across our very diverse cultural audiences.

 

A few words about your directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

We had a minimum budget. So how to make the best of what you have available! I’m not a horror fundi but have worked with some Italian directors and producers when we made Ghost Son.

 

What can you tell us about Tokoloshe - The Calling's cast, and why exactly these people?

 

They are all people I know, some are students of mine and some are colleagues of mine.

 

You of course also have to talk about Tokoloshe - The Calling's super-creepy main location for a bit, and what was it like filming there? And did you dream up your film with this specific location already in mind?

 

Absolutely, I had used these locations for another film of mine and even then knew I would at some time be back there. The house was left completely intact some 60 years ago, clothes, books, cutlery, photos, everything, we did not bring in a single piece of set dressing. It has its own dungeon and in places is filled with bats – crying out for a horror film to be made. The large mural is in fact a painting of the original white owners.

 

A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

A very relaxed atmosphere. It is the first film in my career which spans over 40 years that I did not have to answer to anyone other than myself. Each shooting day brought its own problems and we as a very small tight crew would deal with them in a very cool and sometimes experimental way. I met the cast as we went along and as people became available. On some days the cast were not available so we would work the narrative with what we had to hand.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Tokoloshe - The Calling?

 

It’s had very mixed reviews. I made it as part of my Master’s Degree and was not even sure if we would get a release, but the film has exceeded all of my expectations.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

I work as a line producer (gun for hire) and have a few projects lined up – I would love to do a Tokoloshe - The Calling follow up and have been in touch with a few financiers.

 

What got you into the filmworld to begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?

 

I sold ice creams at our local cinema when I was at school – I would watch the titles and decided that at some time I would have the biggest title! I did eventually go to film school in London and returned to South Africa to pursue my love of telling South African stories.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Tokoloshe - The Calling?

 

I am more recognised as a producer and often work as a 1st assistant director on the bigger pictures – District 9, Red Dust, Long Walk to Freedom. As a producer I have made many South African films which have won international acclaim – Wooden Camera, Taxi to Soweto, Chiken Biznis, to name a few.

 

Hailing from South Africa, what can you tell us about the film industry there, and how easy or hard is it to launch a project like Tokoloshe - The Calling?

 

We have a very buoyant industry both locally and internationally. Many foreign films are produced here as we have world class technicians and equipment – our rather weak local currency also has a huge impact on “bangs for bucks”. Tokoloshe - The Calling as I said was my masters film so I was able to call in many favours.

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

Interesting – I work very impulsively and hate sticking to the written word. An old Israeli producer friend Mati Raz used to say “Richard, it’s not written in stone.”

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

Most of them – it's flipping hard work getting a film made.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

The Shining, Casablanca, Mona Lisa.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

None really, I just don’t go and watch them!

 

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Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

I am just so happy that not everyone had the opportunity to tell me that I had not captured the African landscape – fuck, just because we live in Africa does not mean we have to keep making films with bare breasted women and with white men swinging from the trees.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thank you!!!!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
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