In what could be the makings of a real horror show, Stroomop – in cinemas now – centres around five women who go on a team-building trip along the Orange River. But a freak incident leaves them stranded, without their guide, for days in the unforgiving desert.
As it turns out, filming was almost as crazy as the movie. For starters, to get that real “out-there” feel, filmmakers decided on the most remote locations, meaning the cast and crew didn’t have access to running water, accommodation or other creature comforts. “It’s very rare that as a team and crew you get to go on exactly the same journey as the actual characters in the story/film but this time around we did,” says Donnalee Roberts, co-producer and lead actress in the film, who plays Dr. Lana Marais. “We filmed in Onseepkans on the Orange River, more than a thousand kilometres away. There was no accommodation, no electricity, no cell phone reception. We filmed in parts of our country where there has literally never even been a footprint made.”
While there was a campsite village, giving the cast and crew food, tents to sleep in and places to relieve themselves, filming the story left the cast and crew far from their accommodation and exposed to the elements. “The harshness of the physical environment is something that cannot be faked or escaped. That part of the world can be incredibly unforgiving and equally beautiful,” says Carla Claasen, who plays Nixie in the film.
Added to that, a fair amount of stuntwork and physical activity happens in the film, and everyone did a little bit of everything to get ready. Roberts took to Body20 (along with her co-star Simone Nortmann, who plays Vivian) and trampolining, while Claasen opted for the gym. But nothing beats the actual outdoors.
“Even though I trained hard, nothing could have prepared me for what lay ahead during filming,” says Roberts. “We hiked, swam the river, river rafted and climbed mountains every day and sometimes in temperatures of up to 46 degrees heat for 12 hours a day,” she says. One thing that got them through? Some tenacity. “I would say the true stamina that’s needed out there is mental stamina,” says Claasen. “You’re really being pushed to your limits both physically and mentally, but it’s your mental fortitude that gets you through all of it.”