Interview: Writer-Director-Producer Mr. B Talks About Safe Bet

Mr B

Also known as “Mr. B”, Bonginhlanhla Ncube is an international award winning producer/director. He was awarded Best Producer in 2010 for the international 48 Hour Film Project’s short film Wrong Call. He then produced his first TV feature film 48 which was commissioned by Mnet, a pay TV network under DSTV. The film 48 picked up several awards including Honolulu Film Awards in Hawaii, 3 nominations at the AMAAs 2012, BEST FILM at Amasiko Heritage Festival in 2012 and premiered in Hollywood’s Pan African Film Festival in 2012.  Mr. B attended several screenwriting and filmmaking workshops held by Daniel Dercksen of The Writing Studio, and also attained his skills under the training of North American based film guru, Peter D. Marshall (Butterfly Effect, Happy Gilmore, Dawn of the Dead) and was mentored by Tendeka Matatu (Max & Mona, Gangster’s Paradise: Jerusalema) Mr. B is a 3 time judge of the South African Film & Television Awards (SAFTAs), the biggest film & television awards in South Africa. He has presided as Chairman of the Directing & Writing panel twice including for the 2015 instalment.

Daniel Dercksen Shares A Few Thoughts With Writer-Director-Producer Mr. B

International award winning producer/director and writer Bonginhlanhla Ncube teamed up with screenwriter Carl Roddam for Safe Bet, a film that has taken the world by storm.

It’s been a long journey since the workshops you did with The Writing Studio.  Now it’s payback with Safe Bet. Your views on this?

The Writing Studio workshops for me were very vital in understanding how to write stories for film, I learnt how to tell our own stories in a universal language of film and thinking back, all those weekends spent under your instruction were not to waste.

Tell me how Safe Bet happened?

Safe Bet is a result of a collaboration of Writing Studio class mates, Carl Roddam wrote the story and I had significant input while working on the screenplay. Safe Bet, originally titled ‘Spin Stars’, started off as a spin off of a planned series from “48”, a movie I wrote, Produced & Directed for Mnet back in 2011. After disagreements in the story direction with one commissioning editor, I decided to make a feature film from the story as I really believed in it. I also knew the story would work in the international circuit because money has a universal language, it always say ‘come get me’, no matter who or where you are you always want more of it.

How would you describe Safe Bet?

There is nothing like a Safe Bet

Was it a difficult screenplay to write?

Not at all, it was absolute fun. I would break into laughter while writing, exactly the opposite of how i felt when i wrote “48”. This fun and enjoyment translated to set, we laughed and sometimes messed up great takes because of it.

Tell me about the process from page to screen. Was it a smooth process?

I believe in tapping into other people’s creativity, that’s my process. So from development of Safe Bet its been creative collaboration. The script was doctored by a panel of creatives, directors and actors advising different twists and turns. In casting i allowed the actors to ‘bring it’ and show me what they can do with their character. Same applies to editing.

How difficult is it to get your writing on the big screen in South Africa?  Some writers think it takes a few weeks.

If you have a story that theatrical distributors believe works its not difficult at all.

Did it make it easier working with  Carl Roddam,  you have had a good working relationship with?

It did make it easier, as good friends with same objectives it was pretty easy.

How do you feel about the end result, seeing your words in action?

The ultimate climax, no drug beats this. Not even having sex on the moon.

Your views on the local film industry?

I am very happy with the local industry, the quality of productions is improving while the audiences are also increasing

What do you hope people will get from watching Safe Bet?

Never bet using someone’s money

Future plans?

I am writing a bold and overzealous period piece that is 4 years in the making and another expensive hectic action film with a Hollywood superstar as lead.