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Christia Visser on 'The Recce'


Christia Visser is a natural, who has quietly ratcheted up an impressive collection of performances with lead roles in Hollywood in my Huis, Tess, Girl from Nowhere and supporting roles in Ballade vir 'n Enkeling, Alison, Last Ones Out and now The Recce. Having seen most of her feature films, one can be forgiven for thinking you know her, testament to her terrific ability to bring you alongside her characters.

Her latest film, a war drama called The Recce (opens nationwide 28 September), directed by Ferdinand Van Zyl, finds her playing Nicola Viljoen, a wife struggling with the idea that her combatant husband may not return home. Spling caught up with Visser to find out more...

How did you come to be involved in this project?

I auditioned.

Can you tell us a bit about your character - was there any resonance for you?

I play the role of Nicola Viljoen, the wife of the recce, Henk. There was a lot of resonance for me. Nicola is an incredibly strong woman, she has her own opinions about the war, she's not oblivious at all... she fights for her husband and unborn child, for love. She is so many women that I know.

The Recce - Nicola Viljoen

How did you prepare for the role?

That is always a difficult question as I don't have a recipe. For Nicola, I used the unknown to fuel her fear, everything she does not know about the war and exactly what happens there... like me, she's only heard stories.

What did you learn from your time shooting The Recce? Would you be interested in doing more war films of this nature, why?

I think every time you shoot on a different project, you work with new people, you push yourself a little further and you learn... I don't think it's something you can necessarily pinpoint or put into words. I have to say that The Recce was a beautiful experience for me, it's amazing to work with a group of people you admire and trust.

Yes, all stories deserve to be told and no one is ever exactly like the other.

It looks like a labour of love involving blood, sweat, mud and tears - what was the most challenging aspect of your performance?

Most challenging for me personally was playing a pregnant woman, I've never been pregnant, so I had to remind myself constantly that there's life inside me... I had to learn to move differently and feel different... the extra weight helped for the most part.

The Recce - Nicola Viljoen

What is your most cherished memory from ‘The Recce’?

Playing in a sprinkler with Greg Kriek... we had so much fun doing the flashback scenes, we got to drink lemonade and chase each other around the yard, like kids!

What do you think audiences will take away from the experience?

I think it'll bring a deeper sense of understanding. The film jumps into the deep emotional side of war, a side we try to overlook as humans. I may never know what my family members went through... I can only try my utmost to understand.

You've undertaken a number of challenging roles... do you feel that these performances help you grow as a person?

Definitely... I get to go to places Christia would never go... it gives me a better understanding of myself and others... I get to test my limits every time.

You seem to live and breathe through your characters, how do you shake off some of the more intense ones?

Sometimes it takes time to shake it off, but for me, the trick is to let it be what it is, don't force it out, live it out... I am also extremely fortunate to have incredibly supportive family and friends, they always remind me who I really am and they are patient with me.

What's next for Christia Visser?

There are some exciting new ventures happening later this year... I can't share details yet, but all in good time.

 
Casinos in Pop Culture


Casinos have been around for hundreds of years, so it should come as no surprise that over time they have made their way into pop culture. After all, when you think about the thrill of the games, the glitz and glamor, and the crazy lifestyle often associated with Las Vegas, casinos have plenty to offer creators.

Casinos have been featured in everything from movies to books, TV shows, and even video games. It’s not just land-based casinos that have been featured; these days online casinos are also being celebrated in pop culture.

We take a look at some of the best examples of casinos in pop culture over the years.

Casinos in movies

There are so many casino movies out there that it would be difficult to name them all. From modern classics such as Casino Royale to popular heist flicks such as the Ocean’s Eleven franchise, these movies all feature gambling venues that make for an excellent setting, as well as often being central to the storyline.

Some of our favorite examples of casino movies out there include Casino, 21, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Back to the Future 2, Rounders, Rain Man, The Hangover, Swingers, and Croupier. As for those featuring online casinos, they’re a bit rarer. One example is the 2013 movie Runner Runner, starring Ben Affleck, although it didn’t get great reviews. It would be interesting to see if any hits based on online casinos come out anytime soon.

Casinos in TV shows

There are several instances where casinos have featured on popular TV shows. Think Friends, when they all go to visit Joey who is working at a casino or that episode of The Simpsons when Homer takes Ned to Sin City to show him “the right way to live.”

What some of you may not realize, however, is that there are also a few TV shows out there that were actually centered around gambling and casinos. Most notably, these include Las Vegas, which ran back in the early 2000s and focused on a former CIA agent and casino boss played by actor James Caan, and The Casino, which was a reality TV series that offered viewers an insight into the realities of running a casino.

Casinos in literature

Some of the casino movies we mentioned before are based on popular books. These include Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Ben Mezrich’s 21: Bringing Down the House: How Six Students Took Vegas for Millions and Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale. However, these are not the only examples of casinos in literature.

Of course, there are several books written on gambling and casinos, but many of these discuss the principles of the games and offer advice on how you can beat the house. Other interesting reads include Don’t Look Twice, The Eudaemonic Pie, and Straight Flush, which is based on the true story of a bunch of frat boys who start one of the biggest online poker sites.

Casinos in music

Musicians have also been inspired by the thrill of gambling, writing lyrics about the ace of spades, deals with the devil, and more. This list wouldn’t be complete without hits such as Frank Sinatra’s Luck Be A Lady, Ace of Spades by Motorhead, Casino Boogie by the Rolling Stones, Viva Las Vegas by Elvis Presley, The Gambler by Kenny Rogers, Deuces Are Wild by Aerosmith, Poker Face by Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry’s Waking Up In Vegas.

Pop culture in the casino

Of course, it’s not just pop culture that draws its inspiration from casinos. It also works the other way around, with casino games taking their inspiration from popular movies, comics, TV shows, and more. Superman is just one of many examples of such inspiration.

Taking inspiration from pop culture to create hit online casino games is a great idea, as it can help to create a truly engaging and better playing experience, particularly if the player is a big fan of the movie or TV show that the game is based on. So, if you’re a casino looking to reach out to a new audience or create better games, then using pop culture may just be a great way to do so.

 
'The Three Wells' Podcast featuring Shirley Johnston


The Three Wells podcast is based on the principles expressed in Matthew Kalil's book, The Three Wells of Screenwriting. Working screenwriters, film professors, first-time screenwriters, adaptation writers, TV writers, commissioned writers, script editors, playwrights, novelists, songwriters, journalists, documentary writers... anyone looking to break into their next idea or overcome writer's block can benefit from this practical screenwriting aid.

With Spling as the host of The Three Wells podcast, Matthew gets to the nitty-gritty of what it takes to be a writer, how to find inspiration and how to apply The Three Wells of Screenwriting methodology through the lens of the films, TV shows and novels of screenwriters and authors.

Shirley Johnston, the screenwriter behind Felix and a myriad of popular South African TV dramas, joins us for our first podcast.

Pivoting around the metaphor of a well and finding your deep sources of inspiration, the concept deals with the External Sources well, the Imagination well and the Memory well. Kalil discusses how one digs into each of these wells in terms of what's been gleaned from pop culture, what the mind can fathom and how our experiences can be leveraged in the writing process.

An extension of the book, Kalil uses the podcast as a platform to discuss the writing process with renowned screenwriters and authors to unpack how they've come to rely on each of these wells in their writing journeys. Speaking about each of these wells and finding out how these screenwriters operate, you'll be able to get a better understanding of the core principles at play in The Three Wells of Screenwriting and hopefully be inspired by some of the ideas and concepts for your own projects.

Here's a review of Matthew Kalil's book, which will give you a much greater understanding and a veritable treasure trove of honest advice that has helped him and is worth revisiting.

This 'The Three Wells' podcast was recorded at Fine Music Radio's recording studio at the Artscape in Cape Town, South Africa.

 
Greg Kriek on 'The Recce'


Greg Kriek is a gung-ho South African actor and producer, who never shies away from a challenge and gets stuck in. One of the hardest working film professionals out there, he's constantly honing his craft, pushing the limits and committing himself to the art of film-making. When he's not on set or working his magic, he's preparing for his next role. A consummate professional and a gentleman - it's always a pleasure interviewing the rising SA star.

His latest film, a war drama called The Recce (opens nationwide 28 September), directed by Ferdinand Van Zyl, finds him getting down and dirty in a physically demanding leading role. Spling caught up with Kriek to find out more...

 

How did you come to be involved in this project?

I got the leading role in The Recce through the good old traditional process of auditioning - however it was a grueling waiting period of almost 2 months before they officially confirmed me. Between being optioned and booked really is actor's hell for so many (laughs).

Can you tell us a bit about your character - was there any resonance for you?

I play Henk Viljoen- a recce who is wrongfully declared KIA behind enemy lines. Abandoned by his superiors; it’s a race for survival in which his mental and physical abilities are pushed to their limits, as he navigates his way through the treacherous Angolan war zone in an effort to make his way home to his loved ones.

It was a tremendous honour to get to play Henk - I really resonated with his tenacity, his dogged perseverance, his deep sense of duty as well as his inner struggle of pursuing his passion and being with his loved ones at the same time, specifically the fact that sometimes these often are in conflict with one another.

The Recce - Henk Viljoen

How did you prepare for the role?

Ah man this was hands down the most physical preparation I have ever needed to do for any character - I went to a special boot camp with MILSPEC where they taught me tracking, special forces weapons handling, basic bush craft and sniper training.

In addition to this, I received horse riding lessons, stunt training and I also spoke to a lot of ex recces off-the-record and heard their harrowing stories, as well as family members of those who served.

I also read as many books as I could leading up to the film and watched numerous doccies and movies in between bulking up at the gym.

What did you learn from your time shooting The Recce? Would you be interested in doing more war films of this nature, why?

It was one of the most rewarding experiences to research, learn, immerse myself in the history and discuss all areas related to becoming and being a RECCE and a soldier.

I absolutely love this genre and really would love to do more films of this nature. I think so many men and women of war from across the globe have been misunderstood and have chosen to remain silent owing to various factors. I think film will continue to be a powerful catalyst in bringing about conversation and ultimately healing.

It looks like a labour of love involving blood, sweat, mud and tears - what was the most challenging aspect of your performance?

Firstly, my biggest challenge was to do as much research and preparation for the role - out of respect to all the recces and men that served their country. I wanted to bring the truest portrayal of a recce that has ever hit the big screen to date.

Beyond that my body was really put on the line - by doing most of my own stunts, dragging myself through rivers, mountainous snake-infested terrain, whilst truthfully incorporating my training in tracking, bush craft, weapons handling, horse riding and intel gathering. Beyond the physical challenge - to also truthfully immerse myself in the mental state that a recce or soldier truly needs - in order to survive in the bush.

The Recce - Henk Viljoen

What is your most cherished memory from ‘The Recce’?

It’s too tough to single out a specific memory as there were so many- but what I cherished so much was the camaraderie we formed as a film crew and cast under very tough and brave filming conditions. I think all the location moves, living and working together daily for over 6 weeks (in a war zone) brought us all together in a very deep way. We all knew that we were dealing with sensitive subject matter that needed to be treated with respect.

What do you think audiences will take away from the experience?

For audiences I would say that the movie is relevant and honestly explores how the war and the era - affected all of us no matter our gender or race. The one thing I really respect about the film is that there is no political agenda and I love the balance of how it explores how both men and women were affected by the war. It is both universal and local in that sense - and I think that we are finally ready for this film, which is told in a way South Africa hasn’t seen before.

Viewers can expect to see a raw and honest survival drama in the context of an action packed thrilling war epic. It showcases well-developed characters both male and female and delicately handles this sensitive subject matter that will hopefully spark conversation within families across the country.

 
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