If ever there was a film that could best describe South Africa’s current political situation with its scandals on corruption within our government, Project X hits all the right notes.
Not to be confused with the 2012 high school party flick, Project X is a 13-minute action film that tells the tale of a South African assassin bent on exposing the ills that occur within a government facility - the CIA. The short film received three awards of merit from the Best Shorts Competition, based in Los Angeles, continually showcasing South Africa’s amazing skills at creating stories.
For a short film that tackles the themes of corrupt governments, billionaires and assassins, Project X has the quality to become a full 120-minute movie. It has the potential to captivate South African (and hopefully international audiences) because this is a genre in the South African film industry that is hardly tackled.
Director Michael Norman captured the film’s plot quite interestingly with the main protagonist - South African assassin Rogue Taze - and the damsel in distress, billionaire heiress Camilla Milano, unintentionally working together to expose the CIA after the truth behind Rouge Taze’s previous contracts come to light.
“We have created the fictional character Rogue Taze even higher than the levels of the popular Jason Bourne, Agent 47, Jason Statham, The Mechanic and James Bond”, Norman explained. “My inspiration for Project X comes from some real-life stories that have been part of our world’s history, and my love of the industry’s leading and popular espionage action movies. However, it was incubated by the fact that it is impossible to see a black James Bond, for obvious reasons.”
Norman goes further to explain that the film Project X Marks The Spot was only the start of their narrative, as it told the beginning of Taze’s back story, and that through a feature film would viewers begin to understand the character of Rogue Taze and his link to the CIA.
“There are no other popular action movies where you see a black assassin, hitmen or snipers operate at the levels of characters such as Bond and Jason Bourne, yet these characters somehow do exist in real life.”
Considering the small market of action feature films in the country, one such as Project X is likely to draw crowds into the cinema to get a glimpse of what action films can be produced by African directors.
Norman tells us that, “If you analyse the stats, SA does watch a large number of international action movies. Therefore, I find no reason why producing them ourselves should be any different. I do understand that the main challenges lie in the lack of skill sets, knowledge, adequate resources, including the complexity and financial implications that come with it.
“Our SA action movies have not changed from the political issues in the past, bank robberies and hijackers. It’s time to see a different narrative in order to pioneer and grow our own market and film industry”.
It would be presumptuous to assume that a film such as Project X would be the film to start changing the directions of where most South African action films are usually directed, but it is interesting to think about the possibilities that would come with the exposure of films such as this, where we have local actors portraying the roles on the same level as international actors like Liam Neeson, Bruce Willis, Denzel Washington portray well.
As Norman mentioned, South Africa has the potential, we need to learn to admire our own good guys, instead of admiring the famous action men and women from Hollywood.