The exciting challenge for me directing Tornado was, I guess, the odd relationships that develop in this story. We have the boy, the horse, a girl and a mentor, some sort of Sage, if you will. These play out their parts in the wonderful landscape of the Kalahari.
For me the character's struggle to communicate is well parodied by the vastness of the country. This gave such an opportunity to explore, weaknesses and the strengths of the characters and eventually their beautiful victories - each one his and her own.
I love the windmills, figures in a landscape crying out for a little wind to refresh their souls. That's for me, what the movie is about.
As much as the Kalahari was a fascination for me, the actors were an inspiration. From Quentin’s unassuming attitude to the work, Leán's natural flair for performance to Danny's ease, I had everything to sculpt this awesome little movie. I call it a little movie with a big heart. You think you watched a tiny movie but it makes a big move in your heart, and it lingers! I really love this film.
Tornado is the moving story of a horse and a man – broken by life, brought together by chance, healed by the curative powers of the Horse Whisperer of the Kalahari.
This magical film reveals their challenge – to find their way back to the path of happiness and reality.
The Kalahari Desert is a harsh unfriendly environment and filming there was extremely demanding. For the horse, the men and the women who took on the challenge, Tornado was a physical and emotional roller-coaster ride. The Kalahari’s difficult shooting conditions made life on set tough as electricity, water and accommodation had to be brought in to accommodate the crew.
“This film has had a lot of miracles that have happened around it for everything to happen. I think we really got the right actors and they have done a brilliant job; the financing the film; the availability of key people working on the film all happened in a really unusual way. But then coming down to the Kalahari to a place like Noenieput that only has four or five houses, and to try and make a film with a crew of about 50 people, in a place that’s got no running water, no electricity, no accommodation, no cell phone reception and no telephones, was a real challenge. But the crew has pulled together, and they’ve put up with minus eight degrees, sleeping in tents where the water has frozen up so they can’t even have a shower. I think they’ve done an amazing job” – Peter Lamberti
Capturing the beauty and vastness of one of the most beautiful deserts on earth can only be accomplished one way – from the air.
The slow motion shots were captured using the Phantom camera. Shot at 1000 frames per second on High Definition (2.2 million pixels) the powerful vision of a stallion galloping in slow motion, is a supreme technological moment. One of only 3 such cameras in South Africa, the Phantom Camera made a fantasy become a reality.
For the challenging riding sequences, the lead male actors were body-doubled by the original Barrie and Pierre in this true-life tale. Other members of the cast were fortunate to have the help of the riding experts to call upon“
Lights, cameras, and action descended on the isolated desert community of Noenieput with the tumultuous arrival of the film crew. It had been a long time if ever that so many people and vehicles visited the little town.
“There’s not much going on in Noenieput. Its gravel roads, there’s no tar roads, there’s no schools, there’s no nothing here! And then the movie becomes a reality. And all of a sudden its vehicles and vehicles and lorries and lorries and lights and lights -whatever goes with it. I think the whole of town came to a standstill. Absolutely.” – Barrie Burger
Creating perfect doubles when the real person you are trying to recreate is also a part of the film is a challenge. Working on an Arab stallion, the star performer – is even more intense.
“The most exciting thing is doing the horse makeup, which is a complete novelty for me, I’ve never done it and I was afraid of horses before I started.” – Christa Schoeman
He had to be taught bad manners before he could take on the role but Kashmir, the gentle grey Arab stallion was perfect to play the part of Tornado. His journey to the Kalahari from Gauteng was long and tough but Kashmir behaved like the star he is.
Despite incredibly tight deadlines and difficult working conditions in the middle of the Kalahari, crew and cast formed lasting friendships. Shooting was accomplished with laughter and hard work – definitely a labour of love.
“I think there was a general vibe on set that was very comforting and very happy and everyone got along and everyone could joke around with each other. Everyone, you know, knew each other’s sore points, and we bonded quite closely out here in the desert. I think that you get to know people. It’s going to be tough to leave everyone hey, cos you split up at the end of the movie. Its, its going to hard.” – Quentin Krog
Excited by the story, Everland Productions came on as executive producer, providing the film’s financial backing, while Lee Doig, who’s worked on several seasons of the Mark Burnett/CBS show Survivor, signed on as Director of Photography. Peter Lamberti of Aquavision TV Productions took the helm as producer, making this the first feature film for his company Aquavision.
Barrie is a man whose weather beaten features tell as many stories as the ancient Kalahari itself. He has chosen to dedicate his life to an odyssey on horseback. On his long journeys, he has learned a deep understanding of his horse – so deep he has learned to hear his horse’s silent whisper. He shares the great passion in his heart with something our eyes cannot see and our ears cannot hear, the indomitable equine spirit.
A missionary, Barrie rides miles of unchartered desert to find the isolated people whose humble homes are dotted sparsely throughout this vast wilderness. He shares his company and his wisdom by telling stories, simple stories of horses and people. In the vast open spaces of the desert, where vehicles never pass, the lives of the Nama people are closely tied to their animals, and the stories of Barrie’s horses reach them as no other metaphor could. One of his most powerful stories is that of Tornado and Pierre: two damaged souls brought together in the desert, and healed by gentleness.
His story starts when Pierre comes to Barrie searching for guidance on how to heal a desperately damaged stallion that the world had given up on. Slowly, in the silence of the desert, Barrie begins to teach Pierre how to hear Tornado’s whisper, understand his pain, and release him from it…
“Listen to his whisper. Not to the sounds that he makes, not to the things that you can hear with your physical ear. Listen with your eyes, because when horses whisper, they do it in silence but they do it.” -Barrie
Pierre is a passionate and complex young man with a profound darkness in his soul. His dreams of being a world-class athlete lie in tatters after rheumatism left him unable to run. With no outlet for his growing insecurity he embarked on a destructive cycle of self-loathing and self-harm. It’s at his lowest ebb, struggling with depression while desperately trying to make the grade as an equestrian management student that he crosses paths with a delinquent Arab stallion called Tornado. This meeting would change his life forever. For the first time he recognises a spirit that has been broken even more cruelly than his own. Seeing his incredible potential and powerful spirit, he resolves to try to heal this Tornado.
Tornado is a pure blooded Arab horse with all the best credentials. He has an extremely rare bloodline, descending from the original Arab horses of the Bedouin tribes. He has the physique for incredible long distance endurance, and the beauty to be a perfect show horse. Tragically, because of his incredible potential, he was pushed too hard, too fast, and driven to violence by the pressure. Tornado’s spirit was possessed by aggression that seemed beyond redemption, he mistrusted humans so deeply that anyone daring to venture too close risked attack. Isolated in his stable, he turned to self mutilation to release his frustration, biting and kicking himself raw. The stress caused him to become temporarily sterile, negating his most precious asset as a stallion: his valuable genes. His future seemed bleak... Until he met Pierre.
“I could feel the energy, I could feel the power… He found his true name, he was Tornado, a son of the desert, a drinker of the wind.” - Pierre
It’s a still night. A full African moon looms behind two solitary silhouettes- a man and his horse silently commune in the freezing desert. The vast red Kalahari is as much a character in the story as the people who endure it. It’s an unforgiving landscape, which incubates a creeping disease called loneliness. The terrible beauty of this wilderness forms the backdrop for the story. It’s a story of patience, endurance and passion, all qualities needed to survive and thrive in this place.
“In the quietness and the stillness and the vastness of the Kalahari…I also started to find my true name” – Pierre
Barrie: So you want this horse healed?
Pierre: Yes … with all my heart.
Barrie: (SIGHS) In the days and the months to come, you’ll have to do it with passion. Not an artificial kind of passion… passion, REAL passion. And he understands that. The pain that he experiences, his brokenness lies on the inside. Where one cannot see, cannot hear, and cannot physically touch it, but passion can. Only hearts heal hearts, and sometimes… only pain heals pain. You have to go to that horse with all the pain that you have experienced, in your past.
…and so the story begins.
The healing of Tornado and Pierre is a miraculous two-month journey. Pierre slowly and patiently works through the 10 steps that will bring peace to the horse’s tormented soul. They learn to co-exist together quietly, asking and expecting nothing of each other. For the first time in years they both breathe in silence. Pierre spends hours just being with Tornado and calming the storm in his heart. They simply walk together. Pierre praises and rewards Tornado, something the horse has never known. For the first time Tornado experiences the healing power of touch. Slowly with Barrie’s gentle guidance they learn to trust each other. As the trust grows, Pierre finds his own depression lifted by Tornado’s spirit, and at last, he too finds healing. Miraculously, the rheumatism which caused Pierre’s unhappiness slowly subsided as his depression was replaced by peace.
Barrie has faithfully recorded every detail of this journey to healing. The ten stages of Pierre’s apprenticeship as a horse whisperer will be recreated moment for moment as it happened using Tornado, Barrie and Pierre. The landscape and its inhabitants, the Nama Bushmen, will provide the context and backdrop for the story, a Barrie tells Tornado and Peirre’s story to the leader of a Nama tribe, David Kruiper (who starred in the film “The Gods Must Be Crazy”, and presented a petition to South African president Thabo Mbeki to rally for land for his people).
STYLE AND TONE:
Emotion, movement, the startling light and the dramatic landscape will feed the cinematic filming style:
“I just let go of the reins and told Tornado to go, off into the desert. He’s got so much power and speed you don’t have to ask him to go flat out…he’s an Arabian horse, they just float over the earth effortlessly, hardly touching the ground… I let go of the reins and I just put my arms in the air and I shouted ...” - Pierre
The filming and editing style will be evocative and atmospheric, using textures of the African landscape and referencing the graceful fluid movements of a horse in motion. The same creative team that created the promo will film and edit the full project.
AUTHENTIC RECREATION OF THE STORY:
Barrie and Pierre will all relive their experiences in a reality style recreation on location in the Kalahari. Tornado’s new owners have granted Aquavision permission to transport Tornado back to the Kalahari to appear in the film and where necessary similar horses will double as Tornado. All of the behaviour of the horse from his wild, antisocial kicking and biting to his rehabilitation as a proud Arab stallion can be effectively recreated, without any danger, pain or mistreatment of the animals (or humans!).
Although it is possible to use actors instead of Pierre and/or Barrie the creative team feel that both characters have the ability to compellingly recreate their own stories. This however is open to negotiation.
This Film was inspired by a true story
Pierre van Rooyen - Quentin Krog
Barrie Burger - Danny Keogh
Annette Burger - Joannie Combrink
Meretha - Leán van den Bergh
Jessica - Angelique Pretorius
Matt - Carl Stemmet
Simon - Tommy Kyd
Sarah Carter - Jennifer Steyn
Charl Joubert - Richard van der Westhuizen
Farrier - Kid Sithole
Athlete - Ivan Botha
Librarian - Amore Tredoux
University Lecturer - Mary-Ann Prince
Doctor - Jack Devnarain
Paramedic - Bernice Malan
Silikat - Andries ‘Silikat’ van Wyk
The Producers wish to thank
Dr Jannie A Nel
Stephen A Grech
Director of Tshwane University of Technology – Mr Nico J v d M Stofberg
Tshwane University of Technology
The Community of Noenieput
The Voortrekker Monument Heritage Site
Media Film Service (Pty) Ltd
Johan R. Nel
Pierre van Rooyen & Barrie Burger
Regardt van den Bergh & Paul Boekkooi
Script Supervisor - Terry Fletcher
1st Assistant Director - Cathy Poole
Trainee 3rd Asst Directors - Kurt de Villiers & Alan Mc Bride
Director of Photography - Lee Doig
2nd Camera Operator - Riaan Venter
Focus Puller - Meike Chinnery
Camera Asst - James Boon
Phantom Camera Engineer - Graham Cooke
V T O - Tyson Langa
Sound Engineer - Ivan Milborrow
Boom Swinger - Edison Mchunu
Line Producer - Daphne Williams
Production Managers - Mona Saungweme & Vanessa Visser
Production Assistant - Thami Shabangu
Supervising Accountant - Maria Valente
Production Accountant - Mark Cain
Unit / Location Manager - Clinton de Villiers
Base Camp Manager JHB - Thomas Lishi
Base Camp Manager Kalahari - Jonathan Kriel
Unit Trainee Kalahari - Estiaan Cronje
Drivers - Israel Langa & Sam Mafatshe
Medic - Cheryl Brand
Gaffer - Barry Tiffen
Best Boy Lighting Johannesburg - Brahm Turck
Best Boy Lighting Kalahari - Andrè Rossouw
Spark - Rocky Xulu
Additional Best Boy - Yuma Koning
Generator Operator Johannesburg - Abel Poswa
Generator Operator Kalahari - Simon Buthelezi
Key Grip - Alpheus Manaka
Best Boy Grip - Floyd Vilankulu
Production Designer - Karel Flint
Prop Master - Waldemar Coetsee
Dresser / Driver - Joseph Hitula
Stand By Art Department - Laurette Williams
Make-up & Hair Designer - Christa Schoeman
Wardrobe Supervisor - Mabel Mofokeng
Stunts / Special Effects - Motion Picture FX
David Mahlangu & Jenny Robinson
Double Horse Rider (Pierre) - Pierre van Rooyen
Double Horse Rider (Barrie) - Barrie Burger
Double Horse Rider (Meretha) - Alana Nel
Horse Handler - Alana Nel
Grooms - Motipe Masibi & Moses D Molehe
Interns and Trainees - Stefan Hurter, Shelley de Wolf, Edwin Awung & Thabiso Molelekeng
Location Film Caterers
Johannesburg - Film Chefs
Kalahari - Mango Caterers
Derrick Kinder Group Security Services
Associate Producer - Hanka Sonnekus
Co-Producer - Sherry Lamberti
Editor - Ronelle Loots
1st Assistant Editor - Lika van den Bergh
Dailies Transfers JHB - Lerato Mthembu
Nitris Colourist & Online Editor - Esté Nortje
Online Assistant - Danielle Dreyer
Visual Effects - Graham Cooke
Opening Title Design
Additional Re-Recording Engineer
Sound & ADR Studios
ADR Recording Engineer
Foley Recordist & Editor
Dialogue & ADR Editor
Sound FX Editor
Digital Post Co-Ordinator
Braam Du Toit
Orchestral samples included in this recording from the Vienna Symphonic Library, East West Quantum Leap, Vital Arts and Soniccouture
Production Services by
CGM Insurance Brokers
GAB Robbins International
Camera Equipment by
Lighting & Grip Equipment
Media Film Services
Post Production Facilities
The Video Lab
Tshwane University of Technology
Willa de Ruiter
Derek and Beverley Joubert
Media Film Service
El Rosco Stud Farm
Barrie and Annette Burger
Hein and Dalene Cronje
Carel en Rina van der Merwe
NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED DURING THE MAKING OF THIS FILM
For general information about the film contact the producers on email@example.com