A Patois expression wishing good fortune to a departing traveler, Walk Good is an abstract visual account of a Jamaican experience, documented through the lens of South African filmmakers Adriaan Louw and Roberto Colombo.
Beautifully shot on 16mm, Walk Good takes its audience on a dynamic journey of spiritual freedom across the island. From local fisherman to street dance traditions and youth motorcycle culture, the film offers a captivating insight of daily life and the various forms of self expression Jamaican communities inhabit.
Through its use of poetic narration, intimate portraits and breathtaking landscapes, the film is a testament to Adriaan & Roberto’s filmmaking skills, in creating a visceral documentation of a country still in pursuit of both mental and spiritual freedom.
Currently both residing in London, we sat down with Adriaan & Roberto to discuss how Walk Good came to be.
Guys, congrats on a beautiful film. Could you start by telling us how this trip first came to fruition & what specifically led you guys to Jamaica?
It happened to fall into place that three good friends had a job together in Miami. Not wanting to pass on this opportunity to create something in a part of the world we haven’t frequented much, let alone together, so we decided to visit Jamaica. For being a relatively small island/country, it has had, and still has, significant cultural impact on the world; so getting to know its people first hand was always an enticing prospect.
Did you have an initial concept in mind before going?
Apart from having images from certain scenes floating around in our head, not really. We knew Jamaicans were open, hospitable people, we figured it to be similar to South Africa in that sense, so we thought to let the people we encountered along the way guide the narrative. Let each interaction mould the film naturally.
You managed to capture some real candid human moments. How did you approach shooting with the locals?
We are well aware how the presence of a camera influences an environment. And seeing that we were two filmmakers and a photographer (our good friend Luca Vincenzo), we couldn’t just stop at anything we liked and pull out our cameras. We’d usually strike up a conversation and see how it progressed from there, and if an interesting scene and story presented itself, we’d ask if people were cool with us capturing their spaces. We noticed quite quickly that Jamaicans have a wonderful way with words and they paint such vivid scenes with their stories. So doing the interviews often with only audio gave us the chance to be intimate and create a visual for the storytelling ourselves.
Tells us about the bike culture out there and how shooting with that crew came about?
Bikes are everything for Jamaicans. Its a mode of transport, but also a way to make an income through bike shows and their presence at parties and so forth. We ended up at Hellshire beach where a dancehall beach party was happening. We got into conversation about South Africa and this guy Kirk starts chatting to us in Dutch. We then tripped out on that speaking back to him in Afrikaans. We ended up becoming friends with Kirk and his crew Hottoolsja. They invited us to come to one of their rideout/practice sessions. Both these dancehall and rideout scenes are in the film.
How was the hospitality overall? I heard you guys stayed in a brothel one night apparently?
We didn’t quite stick to the usual tourist hotspots, so we often just arrived at a place and figured it out from there. But each place was always very hospitable, albeit always a different experience from the night before. From the two ladies who opened up their bar late at night for us to sleep in, the verbose older lady who told us how she fell in love with her husband and brought her over to Jamaica to open up a B&B, and even the nighttime manager of a very inconspicuous brothel, beautifully situated along the coastline. We only realised it was a brothel after we left the next day. Haha.
For the tech nerds what was your caméra setup out there? And what/how much film stock did you end up shooting?
We shot 90% of it on 16mm. A Bolex and a K3. Also a small 3chip handy cam that floated around if we had the urge to press record but didn’t wanna just burn through film. We ended up shooting all 11 rolls of 100ft. So a lot made it into the edit. Luca shot all the photography on 35mm and 120mm.
With just two of you shooting how did you juggle filming/sound duties?
I dont know. We just went with it. We had a very organic way of working between us all. Feeding off each other creatively. Often shooting on the camera that had the right film stock in it. Felt pointless shooting the same scenes with two cameras. Especially if you have 11 rolls for a whole project.
How was the editing process?
One of the few perks of lockdown was that we all had a lot of time on our hands. We shot this in Febuary 2019 so having time to let a narrative unfold by itself was really interesting. We often have to work on projects and do them as quick and effectively as possible. Guess the industry is like that. So having a project you shot sit on a hard drive for a bit and every time you open the edit, you find new things. Things started to present themselves and create connections organically. So overall the film became gentler, and more “a love letter”; less putting our own touch on it, and more letting the camera drift through Jamaica, in and out of characters’ lives.
Any new projects on the horizon?
Adriaan: I have a few documentary projects I’m working on. One is in a part of South Africa that one side of my family is from. A part of South Africa not a lot of people know about and then there’s another project in my neighbourhood I’m slowly working on with a friend. Other than that, try to get onto a skate trip again. Been craving to document a trip for a while. Also the three of us are loosely planning a second project for next year. Probably head down to South Africa in January for a few months.
Roberto: I have another short documentary coming out soon on a bunch of friends from Cape Town, following them up a 500m overhanging wall, which eventually sparked the idea of building a massive rope jump off said wall. One of the wildest things I’ve been a part of, for sure. Otherwise just getting back into the swing of things on the more commercial side in London. But I’m always craving a trip with friends to find a new story to tell. I’m sure Adriaan, Luca and myself will find ourselves on another one pretty soon.