Around 50 km from downtown Johannesburg and a twenty-minute drive from Sandton’s thriving central business district lies Nash’s Farm, one of Gauteng’s most popular film locations since the 60s.

Hennie Visser, manager of the site, is a man of few words and is usually too busy with the running of the farm to wax lyrically to a journalist. In Focus managed to pin him down to answer a few questions.

Visser says he can’t count the number of films, television series and commercials that have been filmed at the 14,000-hectare nature reserve and cattle farm. According to Visser: “They’ve been using this place since the 60s to make movies. Everyone’s been here, from Elmo De Witt to Jamie Uys and Emil Nofal. They were the first ones and now everyone comes by.” By a conservative estimate over 200 productions have been shot here. The farm has also played host to British, Scandinavian, European and American film crews. The site has been used to emulate everything from turn-of-the-century Kimberley (for which an entire town was built) to America’s Wild West and darkest Africa.

The location consists of grasslands, forests and rocky outcrops with a majestic view of Magaliesburg. This mountain range is now best known as the place where the remains of the earliest species of man was discovered, in and around the Sterkfontein Caves, close to the farm. But the area is more than the ‘cradle of humankind’. Johannesburg, the City of Gold, has its roots in Blaauwbank Mine in Magaliesburg. This is the first and oldest gold mine in Gauteng and since Gauteng has produced more than 50 per cent of all the gold ever mined in the world it could be said that the area is also the 'cradle of gold'.

Producer Oloff Bergh of Triosphere Productions, who has used the location for numerous projects, says, “Being a very big piece of land it offers tremendous diversity: open plains, dense vegetation, steep hills and cliffs, water, dirt roads, rocks and so on. And it’s only 20 minutes from Fourways. It is also, very importantly, well managed – the management and staff go out of their way to make the shoot a success and they know their way around a set. If you’re using a Johannesburg-based crew they can meet on location and go home each night, so you are saving on hotel bills and travel costs. Gear can also be returned on the same day and if gear malfunctions it can be replaced within an hour or two.”

Part of the location is used as a cattle farm, while the rest is a nature reserve. It does not, however, have the variety or density of wildlife for natural animal behaviour to be filmed. Over the years elephants, lions, cheetah and zebras have been brought in for various productions.

Visser may realise that the place is a goldmine, but he doesn’t overcharge – there are surprisingly economic package deals ranging from around R2,000 per day for outside the reserve to R5,000 inside. And he doesn’t skimp on service either. Bergh recalls, “For one of our shoots we needed an authentic game drive vehicle at very short notice. Hennie converted a Land Rover overnight – including fitting and spraying doors – in time for the shoot at 06h00 the next morning. The paint had only just dried when we started rolling, but the client and ‘talent’ were none the wiser!”

For more information call Hennie Visser on 082 929 4447.