Meg Rickards talks Tess


Although her film Tess won numerous awards at the Durban Film Festival last year, funding remains a problem, director Meg Rickards told Cue.

“Although winning the awards and participating in international film festivals such as at Cologne, Madrid and Mexico City, opens more doors, funding remains a problem. At the moment I am busy with a script for M-Net on the ‘Sharpeville Six’. That is the first time I have been paid in advance for a script, so there is some reward for the hard work I did on Tess,” she said.

Together with her husband, Paul Egan, who was the producer on Tess and is also at the Festival with their two children staying at Kenton, Rickards runs Boondogle Films. The name is a combination of Baboon, Dolphin and Eagle.

“What we tend to do because the funding cycle is so long and uncertain, is that we have four projects on the go at any one moment. That is just enough so that we do not have a slump when one project finishes before another one starts, but not so much that we are overwhelmed and start chasing our tails,” she said.

At the moment she is working on a script based on Michela Wrong’s Borderlines, a psychological thriller set in Elgin in the Western Cape based on another book by Tracey Farren, whose book Whiplash was the basis for Tess, a human trafficking project and another project with the working title, A Man of Good Hope.

The budget for Tess was R6.4m and shooting in Muizenberg took 24 days. Post-production with funding for Danish editor Lindia Man, who won for best editing, provided by the Danish government, took a further four months. It premièred in Durban last year and had its public release on 19 screens in February this year.

“Tygervalley had the largest audience as it is an Afrikaans-language [with English sub-titles]   film and it is set in Muizenberg, so in a way it was a bit like a home video as the people could say I have been there,” she said.

Although it may feel like a home video to those people who have visited Muizenberg, Rickards brings academic rigour and international perspective to her work as she teaches at the University of Cape Town, from whom she has a doctorate in film making, while she has also studied in Amsterdam and London. She has also worked in non-film jobs in Germany, France and Japan.

“Although Tess is an Afrikaans-language film, the issues it addresses in terms of the cycle of abuse and violence are universal, so that is why we have had great reviews when we show it to international audiences,” she concluded.

By Helmo Preuss