Last week was dedicated to the shooting of our DNA Awareness DVD. It was the first time that I have been part of a real ‘live’ shoot and having survived  to tell the tale, I must admit that I have a new respect for all those people involved in productions. The producer/director, cast and crew were phenomenal, and despite the long and grueling hours it required, I never heard a single complaint nor did I witness any flux in their commitment or professionalism. It was a fascinating process and quite amazing to see how many ‘takes’ it literally takes to produce only a few seconds of viewing on a DVD. The most I could do to help, was provide an ongoing stream of food  and drink to the hungry cast and crew! As we were on such a tight budget, I decided to do all the catering myself and laughed out loud when one of the actors sat back after lunch, complimented the meal and turned to me and asked if I was the caterer – Yes, I replied, and the client too! He nearly choked on his last morsel of food, as I do not  think many clients’ wait on their cast and crew when filming a production!

Sophia Dewberry of Straightshooting Productions reviewing the script.

Sophia Dewberry of Straightshooting Productions reviewing the script.

Sophia Dewberry of Straightshooting Productions was the genius behind the production. I have yet to see a more focused & talented person at work. When the first day of shooting was nowhere near halfway complete by 10pm, there was still no sign of her letting up. The cast and crew followed suit, and wrapped up the first day of shooting at 2am the following morning…. The performances of the actors and actresses were strong and convincing, and  I have no doubt that the final product will reflect this too.

The following day all cast and crew were up and at it, showing no signs of fatigue from the night before. I particularly loved the performance of the ‘corpse’ who had to play dead in the hijack/murder scene. He lay there, prostate, unmoving and looking very convincingly dead for hours on end, all under the glaring hot sun!

Applying make up to our 'hijack victim'

Applying make up to our 'hijack victim'

Fortunately, the second day wrapped up at the more reasonable hour of 6pm and we bade farewell to the acting cast , as they had completed their work.

The final day of shooting was left for interviewing the forensic expert, Peta Daviditsz, who gave of her time & expertise freely to the project; genetic scientist & co-director of the DNA Project, Dr Carolyn Hancock, who flew down to watch the action,  as well as myself. Being behind the camera has challenges of its own, but after many takes, I think we managed in the end!

As some of you may be aware, the reason we are producing this DNA Awareness Training DVD is to provide critical crime scene awareness training throughout certain sectors of the community as well as the general public. The training DVD, once complete,  will contain basic information about DNA profiling and the value of DNA evidence, how to contain a crime scene as well as information about the National DNA Database and current legislation which seeks to regulate this area of the law. This information will be of benefit to all first responding crime scene personnel, whatever their role or rank, paramedics, security guarding services and community police forums, as it will enable them to understand the importance of containing a crime scene so that the forensic experts may use DNA profiling to provide intelligence and corroborative evidence in crime investigation.

The cast and crew

The cast and crew

The DNA Awareness DVD has been made possible through the generous donations of the Hancock Family Trusts as well as the Open Society Foundation of SA. Moreover, the camera equipment supplied by Visual Impact, was given to the production at 90% discount, without which we would not have made the very tight budget within which we had to work. Every person who participated in the filming of this production has given of their time and services at either reduced rates, or at no cost at all, but all with unfailing commitment to the purpose of the project. Without this type of generosity, this DVD would not have been possible and we thank each and every person and company for their contribution, however big or small.

Forensic Scientist, Peta Davidtz illustrates how evidence is prepared for DNA processing

Forensic Scientist, Peta Davidtsz illustrates how evidence is prepared for DNA processing

The DVD is now in the process of being edited and we hope to have the final product complete by the end of October 2009. We then have the onerous task of ensuring that this information is disseminated as widely as possible to ensure that valuable DNA evidence being left at crime scenes, is properly contained and preserved for collection by the crime scene investigators. So, keep an eye on our website when we announce our roll out plan.

Until then, remember, your actions when arriving at a crime scene, do matter: ‘DNA CSI‘:








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