From Jackie Chan to Leon Schuster, Glen Afric – or Brooker’s Farm – has played host to hundreds of productions over the past two decades. Glen Afric is currently the location for the third series of Wild at Heart, a popular UK-based production facilitated by Out of Africa Picture Company, based in Gauteng.
In Focus chatted to owner John Brooker.
Q. How did you get involved with the wildlife industry and, ultimately, Glen Afric?
A. I was born in the UK but came out here after the Second World War. I began a game capturing concern and worked doingt this for many years. In the late 80s I bought what was then Broederstroom Farm, which I renamed Glen Afric – after a small town in Scotland close to Loch Ness. I continued with the capture of animals, brought animals to Glen Afric and also created a quarantine station there.
Q. How did you become involved in the movie business?
A. I actually produced a wildlife movie called A Case for Survival. Parts of it were shot in Zimbabwe and featured culling and the movement of animals into certain areas. When I bought Glen Afric it became apparent that it could be the perfect location for wildlife shoots.
Q. What movies have been shot there?
A. It started with the Okavangoseries, which was shot over a two-year period in 1987 and 1988. This starred Steve Kanaly (Dallas), Janet Leigh and our own Diane Tilton-Davis. After this the work just seemed to follow us. We have done about 360 productions in all, including many international ones like Jackie Chan’s Who am I?. Well-known local movies include Mr. Bones and There’s a Zulu on my Stoep. It’s not only movies though – we did the zebra billboard for Investec and all the animals for the Sun City ads were filmed here.
Q. Tell us more about the popular Wild at Heart series.
A. This UK-based series is now in its third season, and Paramount Studios is currently shooting an American pilot episode. We are booked for this production until December and of course the booking may be extended. It is great working with Lance Samuels and his team.
Q. Glen Afric is a bit of a family business, isn’t it?
A. My wife Jenny is very involved in the business, doing the admin. My ex-wife Vicki and my son Richard do the animal handling for Wild at Heart and have done the handling for many of the other movies shot here. We have a large selection of game here including elephant, buffalo, warthog, hippo, cheetah, lion, impala, wildebeest and zebra. The animals can leave the site but come back at night. It is very hard to keep them in one place, as they are not trained. We have had no nasty incidents. We will not put animals into a situation that could become dangerous.