Diamond smuggling, rhino poaching and CIA conspiracies; if you had Sunday night plans, put them on pause. The first episode of Deon Meyer’s novel-turned-miniseries, Trackers, airs Sunday 27 October on M-Net, and you won’t want to miss it.
The story follows several characters and their interwoven storylines and features a brilliant local and international cast. South African actress Rolanda Marais plays housewife-turned-spy Mila Strachan; Sandi Schultz stars as Janina Mentz, a chief police agent struggling to prevent a terror attack in Cape Town; and James Alexander plays a revenge-fuelled bodyguard named Lemmer. On the international front, English actor Ed Stoppard portrays CIA operative Lukas Becker. It’s a jam-packed plot with loads of twists and turns and is bound to have you glued to your screens.
But, before the series airs, here are a few things you might not have known about this exciting local production…
1. Finer details
The series was shot on various locations throughout SA – from Cape Town and Prince Albert to Bela Bela – so when you watch the episodes, look out for the finer details. The production team took great care to get them right. If a scene is set in Limpopo, bet the cars in the background have Limpopo number plates. Street names are also interesting to ‘track’.
2. Deon Meyer took control
The celebrated SA author, Deon Meyer, boldly took the initiative needed to approach production companies to turn his book into a TV series. While it usually goes the other way around, Deon said it was his idea to get the novel made into a series. Him and his production company partners started approaching international companies back in 2016.
Here he is with his wife on the red carpet at the exclusive premiere of Trackers…
3. It’s proudly South African
Despite the production team being a mix of local and British experts, the crew itself is 80% South African. That’s 120 local faces out of a 150-strong team! Executive producer Rebecca Fuller-Campbell said, “We want the show to help put SA talent on the map, because we know what we’re doing here.” Be sure this is a fresh new page in the book of proudly South African storytelling.
4. There are big names on board
This is a South African show that is authentic and produced to international standards. No wonder it was picked up by HBO’s sister network Cinemax and German public broadcaster ZDF. This is sure to shine a light on South African talent and our production capabilities. It will also introduce audiences to the beautiful landscapes our country has to offer.
5. The ladies shine
Strong female leads are a pillar of the show, and lead actresses Rolanda Marais and Sandi Schultz both commented on how much they loved learning to use guns and other weapons for the show. Talk about girl power! Rolanda said figuring out how to fire huge rifles was one of her biggest challenges – that and the intense sex scenes. It’s a gripping series, to say the least.
6. There was almost an extra storyline
Actress Sandi Schultz had an unfortunate mishap while they were filming. Aside from working on Trackers, she was busy with several other projects and reached a state of extreme exhaustion. Home one night, she physically collapsed in her bathroom and gashed a wound in her head that took weeks to heal. Fortunately, the production team could re-shuffle the filming schedule, or else it would have meant writing into the script that Janina somehow got injured. The good news is that Sandi had time to recover, so she could get back to her crime-fighting character feeling a bit more refreshed.
Proof of Sandi’s traumatic fall… and slow recovery.
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This is a gratitude post. This is what I look like this morning. Just woke up. No make-up, bare-faced and yes, that, on my forehead, is a huge scar I have been hiding in plain sight on social media for the past few weeks. (If you don't like blood and gore, don't swipe right, or otherwise do, for the healing process in reverse). Exactly two weeks ago, I fell in my bathroom and gashed open my forehead – Bathtub:1, Sandi:0. So here starts my litany of thanks Firstly to @moonshine_ice_cream for rushing me and my bleeding concussion to the emergency room. Next, to the Milpark ER doctors for dealing with me, shaking, shivering, crying and barely conscious. To plastic surgeon, Dr Marisse Venter, for doing a stellar job, sewing me up and making sure I could get up from surgery and get on a plane the next morning. Next, to the production team on this amazing project I am working on, for graciously dealing with the headache of an actor who suddenly has a very visible scar and cannot shoot, and rallying behind me and supporting me in my healing. To @rolandamarais for connecting me to @drjudey who has provided me with sterling advice, and her award-winning Wound Occlusive ointment and Skin repair serum. To set-medic Dominique Roussouw for taking such good care of my wound and changing my dressings for me, to the nursing sister at Christain Barnard hospital for removing my stitches, to @armandaucamp (you know why) and to all my friends and family for providing such loving care and support during my recovery. I am because of you. This scar is obviously here for life, but I choose to be grateful. I could've lost an eye, broken my nose, lost my teeth, not woken up. I am grateful to be here, grateful for great care and support, grateful for healing. Thank you universe. I am grateful. #gratitude #healing #thankyouuniverse #drjudey #support #scars #iamgrateful #healingjourney #actor #workingactor
Catch Trackers this Sunday 27 October at 8.05pm on M-Net, DStv channel 101.
By Stephanie van der Plank and Andrea Cresswell