Ok guys. I KNOW it seems like this is the year where I’ve deliberately fallen into stuff (i.e. on my back being dry humped in a DC club by a random stranger or becoming the sole provider of reusable grocery totes for a local deli for a time), but I swear to you that these were all happy accidents. ‘Happy accidents’ (maybe not the dry humping incident) are a mainstay phenomenon in my life, so much so that MX5 will often chuckle and sigh, “Girl. Only YOU.”
That being said, I will now tell you about how I magically ended up on the set of Outlander, Season 3.
I often blame Lydia Forson for introducing me to the steamy historical drama, but it is really Nadjah’s grade 7 teacher who ignited my curiosity. We were standing in the narrow aisles of Crazy Store when she all but swooned and fell out as she breathlessly told me about the series that had overrun and consumed the entirety of her spring break. She was waiting for the new season to commence – a space in time that fans have appropriately coined ‘droughtlander’. I said I would give the show a shot. Lydia casually mentioned that she also watches the show. Her recommendation is what sealed it for me.
I then was swiftly baptized into the phalanx of a dedicated hoard of (mostly) women who have invested themselves into Diana Gabaldon’s fictional 18th century world set primarily in Scotland. That I have re-watched Seasons 1 & 2 three times in the space of two months might seem obsessive to you…but I call it attention to detail. It is precisely because of that attention to detail that I took note of the South African crest at the end of an episode in season 3 and discovered that the Caribbean elements of the show weren’t shot in Jamaica at all, but right here in South Africa. In Cape Town. A mere 5-hour jaunt down the N2!
It was a crazy shot (when has that ever stopped me?) but I thought to myself: Hey. Magic happens every day. Let me just shoot my shot, as the young folks say.
I sent Cape Town Film Studios (CTFS) a gushing Facebook inbox message, about how much I love the show, how proud I am that such a fine series was being shot in my adoptive country, how mind altering it would be if I could come see the behind the scenes one day. To my surprise, I got a reply back.
“Keep your eyes peeled! You never know what might happen.”
Was this some sort of prank? Who cared! I liked their page and checked their updates every morning at 5:30 am. And that’s when I saw it. A week later, they opened up a competition to the general public. For the first time in their seven-year history, they would host a group to tour the back lots and have lunch with the management team after. All we had to do was tell them WHY we deserved to win.
That’s a weighty word. None of us really ‘deserves’ to win a shot at something, do we? I told them as much – but I also told them what an honor it would be if they deemed my entry worthy. A chance of a lifetime.
I waited. I watched the entries pour in. Some were really good, taking cues from my flowery prose and expounding on them. Biters. Still, I held out hope that my earnestness would shine through. For many days, nothing happened until one day, something DID. I got an inbox on Saturday, December 16th, saying that I’d won and could I come and visit with them on Tuesday, December 19th. I screamed, and then I sent a reply back saying you bet your sweet hinny I could and then I screamed some more.
But…wait. I had to fly to Johannesburg on the 20th with the girls! How was I going to be in Cape Town one day and then in Jo’burg the next? I looked at Marshall, who had casually wandered into the room and taken off his shoes.
“Babe,” I panted. “I won the tour. It’s on Tuesday. We have to make this work!”
“Say no more,” he replied, donning his Clark Kent glasses and grabbing his laptop. Room booked, car gassed, tires checked and Monday morning we were out the door. Did I have the details for where we were going or whom we were supposed to meet? No. But I had Google, and an address and an email that said I had won. I’d show it to the guard and dare him to turn me away. Fortunately, none of those theatrics were necessary because the confirmation email came at noon.
Y’all. There is so much to tell you guys about CTFS, and I hardly know where to begin. The best place to start is on their website, with a look at a handful of the projects their facilities have been used for filming. You will be amazed.
But let me tell you about my day.
Y’all. I acted a complete fool, and I have no regrets.
I re-enacted a zombie thriller scene.
I re-enacted a Street Fighter scene.
I re-enacted a Gladiator scene.
I pretended as though I could come through and linger at the front door in 18th century Philadelphia. They let Black folk come through the front up North, right?
I re-enacted the Claire-leaping-from-the-Porpoise-and-washing-ashore-scene.
I imagined myself being ravished by loving arms in the captain’s quarters of the Artemis.
I pretended I was Catwoman.
I pretended to be Cersei Lannister.
If they hadn’t ferried us to the next stop so quickly, I would’ve re-enacted Sampson pulling down the Temple.
Even Marshall got in on the fun and pulled the iconic Mandela-staring-through-the-cell-bars on Robben Island shot.
After they fed us the most sumptuous lunch I’ve had in months, I was fortified enough to climb up the rafters of a soundstage.
I pretended to be Prince pouting into the dressing room mirror at First Avenue.
There was so much fun to be had on that studio lot and I tried to have all of it, you hear me? ALL.
And then it was over… and I had to get back in the car and return to the other side of the Garden Route; back to real life. Do you have any idea what that feels like? DO YOU? Still, God is faithful. I believe He will carry me through this drought…lander.
I don’t know what angel I was kind to in my former life or what karma contributed to the kindness, but if the staff at CTFS ever chance upon this post, please know that those three hours are among the happiest of my life, that your hospitality is appreciated, and that your professionalism is exemplary and will never be forgotten. The only thing that could’ve made the day better is if you’d tied Sam Heughan up to one of them there masts, in a kilt, and his hair coiffed with that Season 1 Pantene formula. Just thought I’d throw that suggestion out there…