Mikiros Garoes wrote and directed The Date, a light romantic comedy short film set in 21st century Windhoek. The short first screened at the College of the Arts on June 1st 2019. At its core, The Date is a pretty typical romantic comedy: The workaholic friend, her concerned friends and of course, the love-seeking bachelor. Shot at the Old Location Bar & Restaurant in Windhoek with a budget of N$17 000, The Date brings something new to the area of romcoms, from a Namibian perspective.
The pacing of the story is quite good and while there are many funny moments, Garoes missed the opportunity to really dig deeper into the hilarity Namibia’s dating scene has to offer.
For a film with very little funding, The Date’s execution was surprisingly good. Cinematographer and editor Thabiso Dube did well in giving the film a clean outline which represents the film’s tone and message quite well. Lavinia Kapewasha, Hazel Hinda and Bret Kamwi proved to be a recipe for success with their respective character’s charismatic, funny, and vulnerable personalities.
Namib Insider talked to Garoes on the making of her self funded film, casting and her role in the film business.
Tell us about where this story evolved from. The inspiration, and how long were you working on this story before you decided to shoot it?
It was a random idea I had one day that was fueled even further by my own observations on the dating scene in Windhoek, which is rough. It’s rough in deez streets!
The Date has an amazing cast. Tell us about your casting process.
The casting process was fun and easy for me. Lavinia and Hazel are both good friends of mine and I have worked with both of them before. I actually wrote the script with them in mind so there was no other actresses I even considered casting. Bret was the only cast member I didn’t know personally before the film. Initially, I had another actor for the role who dropped out, so when looking for another actor, the both Lavinia and Hazel highly recommended Bret. It was clear from our first meeting that he fit the role like a glove and he ended up killing it, even bringing new colours to the character.
Were you a fan of romcoms growing up? Which ones were you trying to reference with The Date?
I am the biggest fan of romcoms, even to this day. I am such a cornball! As unrealistic as they can be, they are so much fun to watch and write. I have always been a hopeless romantic. There no specific romcom that I referenced but I guess The Date leans more towards a somewhat realistic romcom in terms of the unpredictability of going on a blind date with a stranger; you never know what to expect.
If you could give the three ingredients for the perfect romcom, what would they be?
Chemistry/Acting/Believeability: No matter how good the writing or production is, if the leads can’t convince the audience that they’re in love then there’s no point. They have to vibe, you have to believe them as a partnership or a couple. It has to be written in such a way that you want them to end up together, the audience has to root for them.
Story: The story or the journey has to be strong. Most romcom stories are basically the same. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, they break up and in the end they get back together. It has been the same story recycled time and time again but it all comes down to how you tell the story.
Music: Music heightens emotions and gives you the sense you’re in that moment as the character or with the character. It has the power to convey what words can’t. Two characters kissing over a candle lit dinner is cute but them kissing over a candle lit dinner to My Funny Valentine puts you in that moment of how euphoric it feels to kiss someone you love.
In any romantic comedy, the two leads have to connect. How as a director and writer do you make sure that the two leads have chemistry?
I am a big fan of rehearsals, not just to get ready before filming but for the actors to get to know each other as people. Between and after rehearsals there is usually some downtime to chat, fool around and get to know each other, but every situation can be different as well. There are times where people just don’t vibe for whatever reason.
You have also done your fair share of acting? What have you learned about directors as an actor, and what have you learned about actors as a director?
I think about the directors I have worked with who brought the best out of me. I am a sensitive soul so I work best with directors who are not aggressive and that I feel safe with, that’s what I want to be as a director; someone who actors can feel safe and comfortable with. I am what you call an ‘actors director’. The most fun about being a director is working with actors because we speak the same language, we are in the same WhatsApp group. It feels like a group of misfits and outcasts that found home with each other. I understand actors because I am one.
How do you feel your experience of being in both positions has affected your craft?
It has 100% strengthened my craft because I have been on both ends of the spectrum which makes you a more well rounded over all filmmaker. But directing has really changed the game for me on a personal level, because I was initially intimidated by directing, but once I got over that fear, it completely opened me up and I fell even more in love with all things film. When you’re an actor you just got to know your lines and not come to work with a hangover (or unprepared) for the most part. Also, directing can be exhausting but you only come out better in the end.
Missed The Date? The Date will be screened at the Warehouse Theatre in Windhoek alongside Senga Brockerhoff’s Encore, Lavinia Kapewasha’s Itandu and Jana von Hase & Naomi Beukes’s The Wind on Your Skin on 21 June 2019. Tickets are charged at N$80.