A large part of the filming of the ‘Spud’ movie sequel ‘Spud – The Madness Continues‘ was done in Cape Town, even though the school featured in the books is Michaelhouse in KwaZulu-Natal.   The new movie, which is to be released next year, promises to be as successful internationally as its predecessor was, not least because of its famous comedy star John Cleese.  Filming for the movie was completed last week, co-inciding with the launch of author John van de Ruit’s fourth and final ‘Spud’ book, he has announced.

First published in 2005 by Van de Ruit as a biographical reflection of his life at one of the finest boarding schools in the country, the ‘Spud’ books describe boarding school life from a boy’s perspective.  Van de Ruit related that he is very similar to the ‘Spud’-nicknamed main character John Milton, played by Troye Sivan: ‘He’s my soul, I suppose, a recreation of my youth, but this doesn’t mean that everything is true’. He admits that many of the characters were modelled on his family members. Van de Ruit’s father was an important inspiration for his writing, and also was the model for Spud’s father in the books.  But he did admit that he is an ‘exaggerator’, always adding ‘my 10 percent to make it funnier, punchier’.

The first ‘Spud’ movie received interest from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the Scandinavian countries, Turkey, and the Middle East, and this encouraged local investors to fund the sequel.

All the school scenes for this movie were shot at SACS in Newlands in Cape Town, the oldest school in the country.  South African audiences will enjoy seeing comedian Rob van Vuuren, of ‘Corné and Twakkie’ fame, playing the role of compère of a hotdog eating competition, set at a Nottingham farm show in the Midlands, but shot at Tokai forest in Cape Town.  Other than Cleese, and Sivan being South African born but living in Australia, the 115 crew, cast and extras are all from South Africa.

The Van de Ruit ‘Spud’ books have made him this country’s most successful author in terms of book sales, the first book selling 250000 copies alone, and it has not gone out of print in the past seven years. More than 500000 copies of the three books have been sold to date. The first movie not only became successful due to actor John Cleese playing teacher and cricket coach‘The Guv’, but also because of the criticism of Cleese’s character by Judge Edwin Cameron. The movie grossed R17 million, reports The Mercury.

Van de Ruit released his fourth and final Spud book ‘Spud – Exit, Pursued by a Bear’ in Johannesburg last week, reported the Cape Argus. He wrote one book per year of his life at Michaelhouse. His first book was about the coming of age, the second about rebellion, the third about boy politics, and the newest one is about awakening, writes the Weekend Argus.  His father passed away while the last book was written, and writing helped him ‘process(ing) the grief’.  It is unknown whether any further films are planned of the last two Spud books.

Given the success of the three ‘Spud’ books and the first movie, ‘Spud – The Madness Continues’ can only continue to bring more fame for Van de Ruit.  Van de Ruit is launching his new book at Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town on 13 August, at a dinner attended by another Michaelhouse old boy Aubrey Ngcungama, now a freelance chef.  The cost to attend is R275.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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