Biblical movie Samson filmed on South African sets adapted from a separate production and used the country as a double for Middle Eastern story settings. Bruce Macdonald co-directed the film and is also a director of South African production service company Boomtown Films. by Nick Goundry
“South Africa was an easy choice as the budget was set at $6m,” says Macdonald in comments to KFTV. “This meant we needed to find locations or existing set builds that would add production value to the film instantly.
“Of Kings and Prophets had just done extensive builds so we piggybacked off their sets and did design changes to suit our period. Working off existing structures saved the film millions.
“Cape Town can basically double up as almost anywhere in the world, even dating back to 1,140 BC.
“Experience is very, very valuable to a film as well. Based on past productions done in South Africa, we had not only [the] locations, but experienced crews, knowledgeable visual effects people who added great value to locations and of course wardrobe designers and weapons [experts].”
While some of the sets were adapted from the short-lived Of Kings and Prophets TV shoot, the Samson production team also built several of their own. These included a village that was constructed on a farm near Cape Town as a fully immersive set.
“What made the location hunt even tougher was I did not want to limit the camera to a mere 180-degree view, but wanted to be able to see a full 360 degrees,” says Macdonald.
South Africa is a popular stand-in for Middle Eastern settings and has recently hosted the BBC’s epic drama Troy: Fall of a City and the ITV series Tutankhamun.