ROAD TRIP: Ivan Botha and Donnalee Roberts in Pad Na Jou Hart.

Donnalee Roberts is surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response to the use of a Ford Anglia in Pad Na Jou Hart.

“People say ‘what a lovely little car’. It’s something we didn’t even realise; how much attention this car would draw. People come up to us after the film and say: ‘That was my first car’ or ‘I first kissed my wife in that car’,” she said.

The car spent a good part of the 3 500km they travelled from Joburg through the middle of the Karoo, down to Wilderness and eventually Cape Town on a trailer, since she was a bit of a tempera-mental diva.

Everything else though, including the weather, played along and there were no mishaps or flat tyres on the five-and-a-half week shoot (they only spent two weeks on the road).

Some things even happened completely by happenstance, like extras for a scene in Wilderness pitching up dressed perfectly for their roles as hippies at a Moonlight Festival: “It wasn’t wardrobe, that’s the way they are,” Roberts laughed.

She plays a free-spirited character not into materialism, who allows Ivan Botha’s character to hitch a ride in her Anglia down to Cape Town, after he beats her in a slingshot competition.

One of her character’s traits is that she likes doing things the old-fashioned way. “That’s how we got to the idea of a slingshot,” she said, admitting to a tomboy childhood and a thorough grounding in the art of slingshot.

Turns out Botha was quite good at it too, which is just as well since that is how his character wins a bet, though she did confess that the whole thing became just a bit competitive.

Botha was the one who turned to a friend, Francois Bloemhof, with the idea to turn the script into a book, which formed the first leg of an extensive marketing campaign.

Starting in November they hit the marketing trail, talking about the book, and by extension, the film, at book launches. Then came a long trip around the country with Helpnet (both are ambassadors for the NGO).

“We realised that social media platforms are wonderful and you should use them as a communication platform to get your message out, but it’s over-saturated. We wanted to bring it back to personal marketing. We wanted to be the people getting other people excited and telling them about Pad Na Jou Hart.”

Then came the soundtrack cd.While there are silent moments in the film, which make sense, it is a South African road trip movie, which called for careful consideration on the part of director Jaco Smit.

“We didn’t just want things to be there for the sake of being there.”

Right now, as the film opens they are doing the school and mall circuit which they will keep up as long as Pad Na Jou Hart stays on circuit.

“We realised that you can have the most beautiful film in the world, but if people don’t know about it, they won’t go and watch it. It’s happened to a lot of really lovely projects in this country.

“We don’t have the luxury to start marketing a year in advance with teasers, posters and trailers online. That’s why, because of budgets, we realised we needed to think of the most effective ways of marketing the project.

“So the cds and the books drive the shelf-life of the film. “