Shooting Shenanigans

Date: Sunday 14 August 2016
Place: Rhodelle, Southern Suburbs, Cape Town
Objective: Shoot 13 scenes of “A Narrow Path” short film
Time frame: 09:00 – 20:00
Difficulty level: Ambitious


Jeff and I wake up early. We are excited and nervous. It is our first shoot day. It had finally arrived after a crazy week of running around organising actors, gear, location and props. A location scout the week before proved the location too small and we eventually managed to tie down the use of “Khalid’s house” on Thursday – what a relief! We pack the car and get ready to go. There is a lot of stuff and we will need to take two car loads. Jeff convinces his brother, Michael, to offer himself as manual labour.

Jeff drops me with the first load of stuff at Khalid’s house at 09:00. My job is set dressing. In other words moving everything we don’t want on the set out of the way and placing everything we want on set somewhere. There is a lot of stuff in the house and this is slow, arduous work. There are many decisions to make and not lots of time as we want to start shooting by 11:00. Mainala, my assistant, arrives at around 10:00 and I hurriedly try to get her up to speed. Time is running out and there is still a lot to do. Didier, one of our actors turned up early and he is hanging curtains for me, bless his heart.


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The two pictures above are courtesy of Hello Pictures

More actors start arriving from 10:30 and there is general chaos. Too many people, too little space and still a lot to do. Jeff has only just started setting up his gear… Mainala is running around getting everyone to sign release forms while I am talking to actors about wardrobe and props. I feel quite frantic and just hope that people are able to manage themselves. I can hardly manage myself. Some of the guys are helping me hang picture frames. 11:00 comes and goes in a whirlwind of activity and general chaos, so does 11:30 and 12:00 and… i think it is about 12:30 when we eventually pull ourselves together and start to shoot the first scene. Relief.

It feels like something is finally happening. Shooting is actually not going too badly. The actors are amazing. They are getting their lines well, but technically we are struggling a bit. There is just so little space and so much gear! Jeff is also struggling with lighting and why did we get a dolly? Oh right, production value… whatever that is.

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We move the order around in which we were planning to shoot some of the scenes. They are starting to tick off. By 15:00 we have finished the first five scenes and it is time for lunch. We are hungry and tired. Things actually for the moment don’t look too bad. Lunch was supposed to be from 14:30, so only 30 minutes behind schedule, right? Lunch had arrived at some point during the shoot and everything is ready for us. Jeff and I swallow our food and run around setting up for the next scene. The break, although really short has revived us and we have a second wind to carry on. There is always a lot to prepare.

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In the next scene Doron has to eat a samoosa and someone is telling a funny story about samoosas. There has been a lot of laughter on set. It is a good distraction from the chaos. Somewhere around 16:00 we get going again. and it is push, push, push. There are still eight scenes left to shoot and we need to finish. We won’t easily have access to the location again but things are ticking over. A lot of coffee is being consumed.

It is about 19:20 when we start with the final scene for the day, which also happens to be the climax scene of the film. Hooray! The end is in sight. We will finish after all. The climax scene is very intense, voices and emotions are raised. I feel sorry for the actors as they run through this scene over and over again. Jeff is trying to pull off a few different angles and some special lighting effects which means that we do what feels like a 100 takes. Finally we finish though and everyone is laughing and smiling. Doron’s girlfriend, Jane, arrives and tells us that she could hear him from a block away – oops.

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Everyone heads off and Jeff and I can breathe, now for packing up. It is again two car loads to get everything back home again. We eventually finish unpacking and collapse on the couch at home at 23:00. We survived our first shoot day! Tomorrow we do it all again….

We actually managed to complete shooting for the short film in the time that we had allocated. On August 15 we also had a full day, although it was a lot more relaxed. We also shot in the evenings of 17 and 18 August. We then had a nice break before we finished off with another chaotic day on 28 August on location at the Bible Institute of South Africa and our final shoot day on 29 August on location in Kalk Bay.

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There were a lot of ups and down during this time but it is a testament to God’s faithfulness and goodness that we managed to get everything done… and there are even some good looking shots among everything. If you are interested you can meet the cast at

We would like to thank everyone that was involved in any capacity in the shooting of the film and all those who faithfully prayed for us. We arrived on Wednesday in Kenton-on -sea and the editing machine is rolling. I think we have finally arrived at the last leg of our journey…

A Narrow Path – Short :: BTS from Jeff Davies on Vimeo.

Cats and Casting

Jeff and I have been back in South Africa just over a month now and in some ways it feels like we never left. The heat and chaos of Cairo and Ramallah and the warm tropical waters of Sinai are starting to feel like a distant memory. Even more distant is the 1000’s of kilometers on the road through Africa. The women selling vetkoek from plastic containers they carry on their heads, chips fried next to the road and endless bicycles carrying everything from people and chickens to jerry cans and bread deliveries.

We have definitely entered into a new phase in our project. Things may be less exotic but it is no less challenging, stretching and fun. We arrived in South Africa still with a real desire to film the fictional short story that we want to incorporate in the documentary. Things didn’t work out to film it in Israel but we wanted to have another try in the familiar waters of Cape Town.




Our first month back has been spent organising meetings with any and everyone we could get to be interested, holding auditions, hounding potential actors and just generally putting ourselves out there. Jeff also had the opportunity to film a short promotional piece for the Sozo Foundation amidst the chaos, while I was able to get away for a week to visit my family in East London. The entire project has in many ways been stretching for both of us as neither of us are naturally “out there” personalities. But it is amazing to see what one is capable of and how God can fill the gaps when you are willing to take a shot at something you are not comfortable with.

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We stepped off the aeroplane with an ambitious eight week schedule to find and cast actors as well as to shoot the short film and on our third day back went and selected a kitten from the SPCA. It seemed crazy even to me, but our little fur ball, Habibi, has been so much fun. With a month already down, we are very pleased to say that we have tracked down a cast that we are very happy with and whose paper work Habibi loves attacking. We also know that shooting is going to take longer than planned due to coordinating more than 10 different schedules; but we are over-joyed to see things taking shape. After all, what is an extra week or two in the span of nearly two years?


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We are planning to complete the shooting of the short film in the month of August. We are incredibly excited and at the same time apprehensive to see how it turns out. There is obviously a lot of work still, between shooting, scouting and dressing locations, organising equipment and props and reworking the script. Hopefully by the end of August we will be done and then it will be on to Kenton-on-sea for the last leg of the journey, post production.

The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter slowly. We would again like to thank everyone who has supported us, followed us, prayed for us and helped us out in any way during this journey. It is greatly appreciated. Please continue to follow our progress and pray for us during this month of shooting as the film is not so far off now!

Finally Jeff will be preaching about fear and trust along our journey at The Bay Community Church in Muizenberg on Sunday 7 August. If you are interested please come through for the meeting, it starts at 9:30AM. We would love to see as many of you as possible.


Israel and Palestine

As the journey is beginning to end, I find myself looking back on the last 14 months often. Did we actually manage to cross Africa? Was it really as simple as it sometimes felt? How have I changed? Have I changed? What is life going to be like now?

We spent our last month in Israel volunteering in a guesthouse in Nazareth. It was fun and the owners are fantastic people but it was also hard work and often longer hours than we anticipated. Typically our days were filled with cleaning and preparing rooms for guests, helping with breakfast, packing and delivering ice, doing renovations around the guest house and updating online portals. We did have some time to ourselves as well though and whilst in Nazareth we managed to source the majority of the Middle Eastern props that we need for the fictional story. We also decided that we are going to attempt shooting some of the story by making use of green screen in order for the to look more authentic. We were able to find many suitable locations and shot the majority of the clean plates that we need. The remaining two clean plates we will attempt to shoot in Cairo next week.

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We left Nazareth on the 31st of May and headed to Jerusalem. I have family that live there. It has been absolutely fantastic spending time with them over the last few months so we decided to have a last few days together. We headed to Jerusalem on a Tuesday and deposited our luggage (which is now WAY too much and too heavy) at my cousins apartment and headed off to Ramallah for two nights. Whilst we were there we met up with our host from Jordan, who is visiting Israel / Palestine and he took us with to see the premiere of a Palestinian film and we were also able to visit Hebron, which is often the focal point of conflict between Israel and Palestine. It was a very interesting experience to see places that I often see in news broadcasts. On the Thursday we headed back to Jerusalem and had a very nice time with family until we left for Sinai on Sunday afternoon.

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We will be in Sinai until next week before we head to Cairo and fly back to South Africa after a few days on the 19th of June. Crossing from Israel to Sinai was our final land border crossing and while we were not expecting trouble one never knows when crossing in and out of Israel. We have heard so many stories of people having trouble getting into Israel and leaving Israel. In some cases people have been questioned for 2-6 hours when trying to leave to country. However, we have had no problems with the Israelis until now and our last crossing was no different. It took us approximately 10 minutes to leave Israel. We are convinced that we have a special Israeli angel that goes before us to the Israeli borders.

That being said Egypt was our nemesis in December and it seems that it may continue to be the case. Security is pretty tight in Sinai due to the current situation and our luggage was thoroughly searched when we crossed from Israel. The long and the short of the exercise was that Jeff’s quadcopter, which he had disassembled and was basically loose parts packed in ziploc bags, was destroyed by security. They broke the individual pieces by hammering them with a piece of metal plumbing.

Strangely I mostly found this amusing. When we left on the trip I knew the quadcopter could potentially be a problem and I thought I would be sad to see it destroyed as it is an expensive piece of equipment, but I wasn’t. I realised how less attached I have become to “things”. I always thought I managed to live lightly, not having too much stuff and not becoming tied down by excessive possessions, but on this trip I realised just how attached I still am to earthly possessions. It has been a journey for me to detach myself from stuff and be satisfied with God, knowing that he will provide my needs. I don’t need things. So sitting at the border watching the quadcopter being smashed I was secretly quite pleased with myself that it did not upset me. I wasn’t feeling stressed about the money, that it was an expensive thing being smashed for no real reason, I wasn’t angry, I didn’t feel wronged. I just accepted it and felt happy that the quadcopter was actually able to escape up until this point. It is actually a relief having the extra space in our over stuffed backpacks!

I can’t believe we are flying back to South Africa in less than 10 days time. It is a little bitter sweet. I have enjoyed this journey so much and learnt and grown so much, I’m not sure if I am ready to go back yet but it is also exciting to know that I will see family and friends. And of course there is still work to be done. We will hit the ground running in Cape Town, hopefully setting up meetings with actors and other potential partners who could be involved in the filming of the short story. We are hoping that we can complete the short in 6-8 weeks in Cape Town and then we can get down to the rest of the editing of the final film. Much of the footwork, scene plans, catalogs and transitions have already been done in the last few months so it will hopefully just be pulling it all together.

We would like to thank all our friends, family and supporters who have supported, prayed for and encouraged us over the last 14 months. We are so grateful for every person. Please continue to pray for us and follow our progress in the next few months as we strive to complete this project. If anyone wants more information or wants to chat, feel free to drop us an email.



One last horray  for the quadcopter:

naz-quad from Jeff Davies on Vimeo.

Farming and Filming

It is 5:20, I cringe and roll over as Jeff’s alarm wakes us up. It is time for our quiet time, before we quickly get ready to be picked up for work at 6:30. After Ran and Eyal pick us up we drive the 20km from the Moshav to the date farm. The scenery is beautiful. We pass numerous caves in the Samarian mountains which local Bedouins use to shelter their sheep. The hills are very green and there are wildflowers after the winter rain that we had. As we pull up to the date plantation we spot some deer between the date palms. They are very tame and barely take notice of our arrival.


It is chilly and misty in the early morning so the first thing we do is to make some tea and coffee to warm us up. We enjoy this together with wafers. A great start to the day. Once the coffee is finished we head off to our tasks for the day. The date harvest is in August so it is currently project season. We have worked on various projects since our arrival mid-January like installing a toilet and tiling the floor of the loo, erecting a structure for a shade cloth (it reaches 50°C in summer), painting the containers on the farm and maintaining the irrigation system. By far the biggest project that we are working on is establishing a new plantation. This is what I’m working on. Ran taught me how to drive his digger and I am digging the 150 holes needed for the saplings to be planted. Some of the others are working on laying new irrigation pipes for the yet to be planted trees.


At 10:30 Ran calls us in for breakfast. We gather together for a breakfast of pita, tomato, cucumber, pepper, tuna and tahini. I mix the tahini (tahini paste with water and squeezed lemon) while the other chop veggies and make coffee. We finish off our breakfast with more wafers and halwa. It is back to work for us until 12:20 when Ran calls us in and tells us to pack away.

We arrive back at the Moshav around 13:00 and quickly get some hummus and pita for lunch. The work day in the dates might be finished but “work” is only starting now for Jeff and I. After lunch and relaxing for half an hour,  we get out our laptops and start where we left off yesterday. Our current mission is to go through each and every video clip that we have shot in the last 11 months and catalog it according to criteria of visuals, content and relevance. This is a massive task and has kept us very busy for the past 6 weeks.


Even though we still have a fair bit of content to go through we will probably only be able to put aside another two weeks for cataloging as we also need to finish the script for the fictional piece before the end of March when we will be heading to Jordan to hopefully pick up some content connected with the Syrian refugee crisis. We plan to be in Jordan for two weeks after which we will return to Israel for 3 months to prepare for and shoot the fictional piece.

Luckily it has not only been work 24/7. We get Saturday’s off at the Moshav and decided that we will rest from our work as well. We have had some nice opportunities to travel around. We have visited Masada and the dead sea, Nazareth, the Golan Heights and various trips to Jerusalem, including this past weekend when we conducted an interview with author Tom Doyle, visited the Israel Museum, the Qumran caves, the Western Wall tunnels as well as the Dome of the Rock on temple mount.





Things have been busy and will likely continue to be. During March apart from finishing the catalog and the script for the fictional story we also want to visit Palestine and meet up with a group from Global Challenge among other things. Please pray for wisdom to prioritise our time well and for energy to make the most of the working hours that we have. Thank you to everyone that has been praying for divine connections and opportunities. We have really experienced God’s favour with finding contacts. We recently contacted an organisation about our project and got very positive feedback. Please pray that we will also find the right contacts to work with in Jordan. Lastly I rather daunting task ahead of us is finding a cast for the narrative fiction story. Plesse pray that God will provide the right people and guide us through the process.

Jalaabiyas and Hijabs

It is hard for me to believe but this is going to be the last blog post / update that we post whilst “on the road”. We will hopefully enter Israel in the next week (or two), entering a new
phase in the journey where our focus will be on filming the fictional component of the documentary as well as post production and other finishing touches. We are currently in Cairo, Egypt.
The last month has been insightful, fun, rough, up-and-down and everything inbetween. We met with our last contact until Israel in Ethiopia. We were put in contact with a missions
organisation in Addis Ababa by a mutual contact in Johannesburg. We were really encouraged to see the passion of the Ethiopians for reaching the lost in their country as well as to equip
and send out missionaries to neighbouring countries. We were also privileged to meet a South African couple based in Addis Ababa that are working amongst the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians.
It was a blessing sharing a meal with them and learning about their experiences and vision for the church in Ethiopia and Eritrea.



Leaving Addis we took a spin through some of the Ethiopian highlands, where it was freezing cold on the bikes. We visited the famed churches of Lalibela. These structures were carved
directly into the rock in the 10th and 11th centuries as ordained by king Lalibela who was reigning over the ethiopian empire at the time. These churches are still operational today and
many local adherents to the orthodox faith make pilgrimage to the site. It was interesting to see priests wandering the streets in their garmets and to hear the bells and music calling
people to church. It is a very different experience to church in East London! Please pray for the Ethiopian Orthodox church that is will experience renewal by the Holy Spirit and that
believers will be raised up in this church that will challenge centuries old beliefs that are deviant from the bible. After our visit to Lalibela we decided to head to Gondar from where we
can cross the border to Sudan. Originally we had planned to visit Axum and the Simien Mountains as well, but with December approaching we were feeling the heat to reach Israel by


Gondar itself is an interesting old town which contains the remains of some castles dating from the 18th century. It is a little bit strange seeing castles in Africa. It felt rather
European, but it was very interesting nontheless. After visiting the sights we spend a morning going through our luggage and trying to identify anything that may be problematic if found in
our luggage by Sudanese, Egyptian or Israeli police. We identified a few DVD’s about Muslim evangelism and documents related to the film and placed them in a parcel that we sent to East

With our luggage sorted out we headed the next morning for the Sudanese border. As we were driving towards the border the landscape was falling away, we were going lower and lower and it
was getting hotter. We were starting to experience the famed heat of Sudan. Although not the fastest, the border crossing was relatively easy and we were free agents in Sudan by around
16:00. The pressure was on to drive the 150km to Qadarif, the nearest town to the border. After a pothole dodging slightly rough ride where Jeff’s top box decided to fall off whilst
cruising at 80km/h (luckily nothing was damaged!) we made it to Qadarif at about 19:00. The next challenge was finding a hotel in the dark in a Sudanese town where everything is written in
Arabic. We circled around until about 20:00 at which point I suggested to Jeff that we stop at an eatery and get some dinner and use that as an opportunity to possibly ask some locals. We
had hardly ordered some chicken, salad and bread when a local guy approached me wanting to know where we are from and whether he can buy dinner for us! We assured him that we had already ordered but asked if he knew a hotel, which he did. It was around the corner. He also said we should visit his store in the market the next morning for tea.


And such was our time in Sudan. We experienced some of the most friendly, helpful and hospitable people in this country. That first morning in Qadarif our friend from the previous evening,
Mohammed, had us for tea whilst another friend of his, Bashir, who bought us breakfast and coffee. It was great to experience exactly where and what the locals eat and to sit and chat,
although it was limited by our broken Arabic and our friend’s limited English. From Qadarif we headed to Madani and then on to Khartoum where we spent 3 nights. Khartoum is a big bustling
city. We enjoyed the local restaurants where you pick your meat from the butcher before it is prepared for you as well as the delicious smoothies. They went down really well in the heat.
Sudan appears to have quite conservative Islamic culture. Most men were dressed in traditional Jalaabiya (white man-dress) and women wore various forms of hijab or niqab. We camped for our
three nights in Khartoum. We had the “privilege” of being right next to a mosque, which woke us at 4:30 every morning with the call to prayer. Jeff was able to pick up some nice shots of
mosques and Muslim people that will be useful in the film.

From Khartoum we headed north to Shendi. We wanted to explore Sudan’s most famous tourist site, the pyramids of Meroe. These pyramids are similar, although smaller, to those found in
Egypt. It was an unique experience going there. There are roughly 20-30 pyramids at the site, which we had to ourselves as it is out in the dessert with not many people around. Sudan is
apparently full of pyramid sites and other archeological sites as Nubia has a history as long as that of Egypt and at one stage it was Nubia that ruled over all Egypt. There are also
various sites where one can see ancient Nubian churches dating from the 7th to 14th centuries when Nubia (Sudan) was a Christian kingdom. Eventually Sudan was invaded though by the Arabs
and Islam spread. From Shendi we headed to Atbara and on the Karima, where we saw more pyramids before spending a night wild camping in the dessert. What an experience. It was cold and
extremely windy, but fantastic.

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We reached Wadi Halfa the next day where we spent the night preparing to cross the notorious border to Egypt. The Egyptian border crossing is known to be difficult, painfully slow and
expensive. It was slow and expensive, but we found it to be organised and professional. It did take the whole day though and after leaving we missed the last ferry across lake Nasser to
Abu Simbel and had to spent another night wildcamping in the dessert. This time it was luckily a little less windy. We were unprepared for this camping but luckily still had a bit of
spaghetti which we could cook and ate with pepper. The dinner of champions.

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Abu Simbel was not our favourite experience in Egypt, it is an expensive little tourist / backwater town. But is was interesting to go and see the temple Ramses II built to himself. What
an ego trip. From Abu Simbel we headed to Aswan and then on to Luxor where we took a rest day. Egpyt has a complex grid of police blocks / checkpoints on the roads. We were stopped at some
of these points just to check our passports but at others we were ordered to wait for a police vehicle that would escort us into town or part of our way. The police we always really
friendly though and gave us tea and water to drink. On our way to Luxor we were stopped and had to wait 1.5 hours for a car that never showed up but the police officer in charge gave us
tea and lunch which was a nice treat.

From Luxor we had two hard days riding to Asyut and on to Cairo. The ride from Asyut to Cairo was particularly cold and it started raining some of the way. By the time we arrived in Cairo
we were exhausted and sore from sitting and shiverring on the bikes all day. We have spent the last 3 days in Cairo trying to get permission to cross the Sinai peninsula to Israel on our
bikes. Unfortunately we were denied permission so we are now looking at options to ship our bikes to Israel. The most promising option is overland shipping on the back of a truck. Please
pray together with us that we will have wisdom to choose the right option and that we will be able to make it to Israel without incident. Also please keep us in your prayers as we are
start our time in Israel that we will be able to connect with the right people, that we will find suitable accommodation and that we will be able to successfully source actors, equipment
and locations in order to film our narrative piece. There are also still some key interviews that we would like to get with some key people whilst in Israel. Please pray that we will be
able to set up and co-ordinate these interviews.

Thank you to everyone that has been supporting us, encouraging us and following our journey as we have been filming and collecting material for “A Narrow Path”. We hope that you will
continue to follow our progress as we progress into the next phase of our journey.