Daniel Dercksen talks with the creative team behind the hilarious action comedy Thys & Trix: writer-director Quentin C. Krog, screenwriter Frannie Van Der Walt, and actors/husband-and-wife team Leandie du Randt Bosch and Bouwer Bosch.
How would you describe Thys & Trix in your own words?
Quentin C. Krog:Miss Congeniality meets The Other Guys. At the heart of it all, we follow a story about a brother and sister, who can’t stand each other, trying to put aside their differences for the sake of the greater good. They both come to realise that it’s in their weaknesses that they find strength in the other person.
Frannie Van Der Walt: For me, and I think the audience will agree as soon as the intro credits start rolling, Thys & Trix is a fun-filled, action-packed thrill ride. It’s something that you can just sit back and enjoy, forgetting about the world and its worries for a while. In short, Thys & Trix is the ultimate popcorn movie.
Bouwer Bosch: It’s a fun-filled comedy with a lot of twists and turns, very quirky comedic moments, and the kind of movie you want to see twice to make sure you got all the jokes.
Leandie du Randt Bosch:Thys & Trix is about a brother and sister who hate each other but work together in the police force. Their quarrels with each other keep them from being promoted and almost gets them fired when they get one last chance to prove their worth by going undercover as a married couple to infiltrate a golf estate to catch a drug syndicate.
Leandie and Bouwer conceptualised the story and got you to write the screenplay with Quentin? Tell me about this?
QK: The original Thys & Trix story that was conceptualised by Leandie and Bouwer is vastly different to the one we have now. Essentially we retained the title and the fact that they would be a brother and sister as opposed to the romantic duo. Everything else was re-conceptualised by The Writers Block and written from scratch by Frannie and myself.
FvW: The initial brief for Thys & Trix was a simple one: to come up with a story that’s quite simply, fun. Oh and Bouwer and Leandie, one of South Africa’s best-known couples, do not want to star as love interests. So, to counter that, one of the first ideas was to have them play brother and sister. From there the concept just grew. Initially, I was only part of the story development, but a few months later, with deadlines looming, Quentin (Krog) phoned me up to ask if I would be willing, and/or keen to help him get the screenplay done. Naturally, I said yes. Three days later we had our first draft of the screenplay for Thys & Trix.
What intrigued you about the concept?
QK: I’m a big fan of Leandie and Bouwer’s social media antics and thought they were onto a winning recipe by opting to play sibling rivals as opposed to the limiting romantic story arc. I was really intrigued to explore that dynamic and felt it had great comedic potential.
FvW: Besides the fact that I was just keen to have my first feature-length film going into production, what excited me about the concept was the sheer absurdity of it all. It’s not often that a writer can let his/her mind wander so far without it being considered procrastination. Plus, I don’t write comedy all that often, so I was over the moon about the opportunity and the challenge (and yes, writing comedy is a challenge).
BB: I think the fact that we don’t see a lot of brother-sister type films in South Africa. It’s always romantic comedies or two friends or family dramas but the concept of a brother and sister that are useless cops that need to go undercover as a married couple is something that you feel you need to see, mainly to see how they screw it up, but there is also a small part inside of you that want to see them succeed at this mission. It’s a first time a story like is portrayed as well so just to sail on new waters is always an exciting prospect.
LB: That I get to play brother and sister with my husband in real life. And the fact that there has not been a movie with this storyline in SA yet.
Filmmaking is ultimately about collaboration, did you find that this was the case with Thys & Trix?
QK: Absolutely! Speaking of the script collaboration; we developed the script through my script development company The Writers Block. For Thys & Trix, we were a group of eight people in a writers room who wove the story and basic plot together and then Frannie and I did the actual nuts and bolts screenwriting. Then there was constant collaboration and feedback from everyone involved about how the script was developing.
FvW: I was only involved in the script writing element, something that we easily consider to be a one-man-job. But even that eventually came down to almost ten people working on various aspects of the script just to get it done!
BB: Yes, totally. There is no ‘I’ in film, okay wait, there is an ‘I’ but you know what I mean. The best thing that you as a producer and filmmaker can do is to surround yourself with people better than you, it’s free education. This film is a testimony of people sharing the same vision but are also open to let other people bring in new ideas and try them out. The more creative freedom you give everyone the more people perform in my opinion so we really wanted to make sure each department had the freedom to do their thing.
LB: 100% – it is such teamwork – like with a sport team every single person is critical – especially behind the scenes (off the field). There are so many roles in making a movie that teamwork is the only way going about it and then collaborating with the right teams – like in me and my husband’s case collaborating with The Film Factory and The Writer’s Block.
Tell me about the process from page to screen, was it an easy journey?
QK: It’s never an easy journey, each phase of a film is challenging in its own unique ways. The turnaround for me from first discussions are the idea to the first shooting day was actually quite fast. If I recall correctly we had our first brainstorm sessions at the end of 2016 and we were shooting a few months later in July of 2017. So there was a helluva lot of pressure on us as writers to deliver a decent screenplay in a very short space of time.
FvW: Filmmaking is never easy. It is a journey with ups and downs, bumps and bruises, and you never come out the other side the same person you were going in. That being said, I have been involved in a few feature films before that seemed to stagnate in some or other stage of production. This never even looked like it would happen to Thys & Trix. The moment the decision was made that we wanted to make a movie, the ball was rolling. And there was no stopping it. In that regard, Thys & Trix was arguably the easiest journey that I have been through in my short filmmaking career.
BB: Developing a script takes a lot of time and me and Leandie, Ernst van Wyk, and Deon Meiring wrote the very first draft that was quite different in terms of the plot. It was still brother and sister but the whole plot played out differently and then we realised that we are passionate about it but it doesn’t mean we are good writers so once Krog came involved with his company The Writers Block, his team - Frannie van der Walt, Sean Daniels - took over and wrote a beautiful yet funny film. They were very open to our input and there was a lot of freedom to share ideas but my mantra when it comes to anything creative is to get people better than you involved, and the script is a great example of that.
LB: It is such a long process of about two years. We had the undercover and brother sister parts from day one but the script and storyline looked way different in draft one, until The Writer’s Block came along and then we started moulding the story into a more realistic and fun one to watch where in the end we filmed on draft nine – this took about eight months, pre-production was five weeks, filming was five weeks and post-anything from five weeks to six months depending on when your release date is scheduled. This process is a long-term investment and cannot be rushed.
Thys & Trix is a zany journey with its colourful characters and a film that anyone can relate to, your views on this?
QK: I agree, there’s definitely something in it for everyone; good laughs, action, comedy, romance, twists and turns.
FvW: The characters for Thys & Trix were written specifically to fit into a South African context. It plays out in such a way that it borders on stereotypes, but it is kept self-aware at all times. The characters portray exaggerated versions of an outsider’s perspective. They are relatable in the positions that they take in South African society. In that regard, there is at least one character in this film that each of us can relate to. That is if we remember to never take ourselves too seriously.
BB: I totally agree. It’s not the kind of film that is going to confront you with your own issues and struggles, it’s just a sit-back-and-relax type of film. We all love a good spy story and also we all have that inner cop inside of us that want to fight for what is right and always call out people when they are wrong, and in this film you are going to watch it like it’s a Cluedo game, it’s all about “who did it?”
LB: Yes, this film is really just intended to make people laugh I mean, we want you to forget about your to-do lists and troubles at home and just laugh and feel better about yourself because let’s face it, Thys and Trix are two losers, shame. And a lot of people will be able to relate to the brother-sister relationship as well as the estate living.
What do you think audiences will get from watching Thys & Trix?
QK: I want the audience to come out smiling and feeling like their money and time was well spent. Then I want them to encourage everyone they know to go and see it in cinemas.
FvW: If I can quote a ‘certain band’ from a ‘certain famous sitcom’: “…when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year…” Thys & Trix is that pick-me-up that you need. It’s the perfect opportunity to get together with that friend, loved one or sibling that you haven’t seen in a while and just be reminded once again why you love each other. Ultimately that is what Thys & Trix is all about. That is what audiences will get from it.
BB: I think they will get the experience of trying to figure out for themselves who are the criminals. You will feel like an off-duty spy eating popcorn while you try to solve this case that Thys and Trix can’t solve. I also think they will get a fresh new comedy, it’s not slapstick, its clever comedic moments filled with awkward real slice of life moments from each of the quirky characters in this film.
LB: Laughter and medicine for the soul. Social commentary and maybe a bit of nostalgia from their upbringing with their siblings.
Thys & Trix will be released in local cinemas on Friday, 22 June.
As a freelance film and theatre journalist for more than 30 years, published playwright and creator of the independent training initiative The Writing Studio, Daniel Dercksen received the number one spot for most popular lifestyle contributor for 2012, 2014 and 2015, and 2nd spot in 2016 on Bizcommunity.com.
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