Cape Town - From the cast and picturesque locations to capturing the elusive money shots, award-winning South African author Deon Meyer unpacks the TV adaption of his 2011 crime novel Trackers (Spoor).
Interweaving three story strands that collide in Cape Town, the six-episode, small-screen adaptation boasts a stellar cast including Thapelo Mokoena, Sandi Schultz, Rolanda Marais, Sisanda Henna and James Gracie.
Deon confesses that it's now hard for him to visualise the characters without seeing the faces of the actors - which proves just how convincing the cast was in portraying the fictional characters.
Scene23, a production hub created by Deon Meyer, Cobus van den Berg and Tim Theron, first developed the idea for a Trackers TV adaptation in 2017.
Today, the show, a collaboration between M-Net, Germany's public broadcaster ZDF and American network Cinemax, is set to become the biggest original drama co-production in African television history.
About casting, Deon says the production team had their "top picks" before the auditions started. After the "incredibly long" process, he is happy to say that "just about all the roles cast were people that we were hoping for."
(TOUGH-AS-NAILS: James Gracie is Lemmer. Photo: DStv)
When it came to compressing the 400-page novel into six-episodes Deon says it "was never going to possibly fit," but the team stuck as closely to the original story as the budget would allow.
"We had to make some very difficult creative choices, but eventually we realised that it was more important to make a really great TV series than to stay absolutely true to the book."
He recognises that the majority of the viewing audience have never read the book, so it was much more important to make an exciting, thrilling TV series.
But he is happy that the spirit, lead characters and critical aspects remain untouched: "I'm pleased that the creative choices we were forced to make paid off."
Trackers was written more than a decade ago, and the events in the book take place during a particular political climate, which led to an exciting debate.
"We had to decide if we were going to make a period or a contemporary piece," he explains. With the team deciding on the latter, it means that there will still be plenty of surprises that even those who read the book won't see coming.
"There are certain things, politically especially, that had to be changed," he says.
(THE BOSS: Sandi Schultz is Janina Mentz. Photo: DStv)
The TV series starts where the book begins, in the Bo-Kaap - which is also Deon's favourite place in Cape Town.
Filming for Trackers took the production team all over South Africa. "Shooting in the Bo-Kaap (Cape Town) were a lot of the book takes place was very exciting. Cape Town is just such a scenic and photogenic place."
Other places the team explored were the Karoo and areas near to the Kruger National Park. "I think we managed to portray all the beauty of South Africa in the series," he says.
A big part of the series that has been hyped-up by the media is the big money shots, incredible effects and the stunt work that has gone into the production.
Deon expresses how impressed he was with the cast when talking about those TV magic moments.
"A lot of very hard work and long nights went into those scenes. We consulted explosive experts, firearm experts, and the cast was just brilliant."
"A lot of the cast did specialised training with the weapons, as some of them had never worked with firearms before. There was a lot of work that went into that. Also, the international director brought a lot of expertise. But mostly I can tell you that it was very, very hard work."
(MOM TURNED SPY: Rolanda Marais is Milla Strachan. Photo: DStv)
When it comes to pinpointing his favourite scenes he says that filming the grand finale was definitely a highlight, but essentially just seeing the pages of his book come to life word-by-word, and action-by-action was a wonderful feeling.
"Each episode has its high moments, and surprises but the first and last episodes stand out to me. Not that the others aren't great," he laughs.
When it comes to the high expectations that have been set for Trackers, Deon admits that along with excitement, it brings pressure.
"We compete with the best in the world, and the DSTV audience is privy to the best being produced in the world. We need to meet their expectations," he says.
"We are feeling the pressure, but I am really confident, and I think that the show came out great."
(THE BAD GUY: Sisanda Henna is iNkunzi. Photo: DStv)
Deon Meyer’s new TV drama that will premiere on South African TV on 27 October at 20:00 on M-Net (DStv 101).