BLOODLINE: NOW OR NEVER
The most monstrous, illegal trade on the planet. Who is going to stop the killing?
“Bloodline: Now or Never” follows special forces Captain and anti-poaching crusader, Gabriel, as he goes on the rampage to take vengeance for the murder of his partner in conservation and the wholesale slaughter of endangered wildlife.
Produced by Dual Films Inc- a production and content provider company for the international market founded by Tariku Bogale.
Mission, to make films that are controversial, educational and entertaining.
In “Bloodline: Now or Never” four unconnected characters end up in the deadly circle of international rhino horn trade that caters for the relentless demand in the East, where the street price is higher than cocaine. While the endangered species is pushed closer to extinction, the moral codes of the group are tested.
The Cast is headlined by newcomer Bogale in the lead role of “Gabriel”, a character created by Bogale, and Hollywood actors Erin Ross and Rocky Myers, and includes South African artists Erica Wessels, Matthew Monica, Paul du Toit and Zach Manyapye.
In these multiple worlds are a collision of values, of right and wrong and the shady areas in between. Set against the spectacular backdrop of the African bush, “Bloodline” travels into the heart of darkness of the illegal trade of animals, and celebrates the triumphs of a few enlightened souls who are fighting one of the most heinous crimes in the 21st century – the annihilation of this rare species.
In a world where the price of a rhino is higher than cocaine, a determined Special Forces captain and anti-poaching crusader goes on a savage rampage to avenge his murdered partner and stop criminal networks from trafficking endangered wildlife.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
“Bloodline: Now or Never” is a pioneering genre film that takes up the mantle as one of the first-ever motion pictures in which a fictional narrative and action thriller plot centers on rhino poaching. At the forefront of this intimate view of the people who perpetrate and try to prevent the trade, is producer Tariku Bogale, who brings an unexpected perspective to this current crisis. “A lot of documentaries have been made about the international rhino horn trade, but I think this is a fascinating one because it’s not sentimental. I’m trying to make it as hard-hitting and vicious as it can possibly be so that you stick the reality of the rhino horn trade in peoples’ faces.
“This is not the kind of film that you would expect to see about the international rhino horn trade, if you’re going to see a film about rhino poaching, you would think, ‘do we really have to go and be preached to and see gore?’. This film is different – it’s unexpected. As a producer my role is to make it as entertaining, unusual and interesting as I possibly can”.
“Bloodline” poses a number of questions about the complex cycle of this heinous trade; the drastic action required to protect rhinos and prevent poaching. The fictional element portrayed in the action/thriller plot probes deeper into the psyche of the people involved in the trade. “It’s an international issue, not just a local crisis so the film tries to deal with a lot of aspects of poaching including traditional hunting. Where do you draw that line? I think it has really amazing insights into the multifaceted aspects of hunting in Southern Africa and Africa in general.” says Bogale.
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In order to bring the harrowing tale of Gabriel’s fight against rhino poaching to the screen, producer Tariku Bogale founded Dual Films, a South African-based producer of genre film for the international market. Bogale and Roodt teamed up to co-write the screenplay unlike any other with this subject matter.
“The issue of this trade is, and continues to be very significant.” says Bogale, adding that other screenplays he’s been attached to a few screenplays that deal with this issue but for me they were either too whimsical or too sentimental, so I just thought it would be cool to make a really hard hitting one.”
When producer, lead actor and writer Tariku Bogale joined the project, he brought some integral creative changes as well as a sterling lead performance. “I had discussions with the first owner of the project, and said ‘this is quite interesting and timely and I said I’ll do this project. I'm very fond of wildlife, so it's very close to my heart. Bloodline is a very relevant story, especially with what is happening with rhino poaching in Southern Africa,” says Bogale.
In order to present a realistic and intense portrayal of the international rhino horn trade, Roodt and Bogale worked tirelessly to create a powerful and moving script as Bogale tells us: “I was presented with the first script which was very vague. It portrayed everybody as an angel out there looking after the rhinos - I saw a lot of loopholes. I brought in different characters like the wildlife and fisheries officer from the US and the Chinese media coming in, and created the villain, “St. Clair”. I tried to take some of the realities from the ground and matched them to the movie. It was a challenging project but it came in the right direction.”
With the surrounding controversy in rhino conservation today, especially with South Africa’s recent decision to legalize the rhino horn trade, Bogale stresses that “Bloodline” comes at a pertinent time. “It comes on and off - you could find a year ago there was a lot of buzz about it and it disappears. There was an enormous campaign that I saw where people put a red rhino horn on the front of their car. So, it was always in the back of my mind. But when this opportunity was presented, I said ‘why not take it’? Even if I had a challenge with the script where it was too rosy - instead of going and nailing it. You know that there's a deeper story of what's happening with the rhinos. So I said let's go straight to the real story of what's happening”.
While the main thrust of the “Bloodline” is geared towards the crisis in the world’s rhino population, at its heart the film is a story about people in our times. Bogale shares that narrative interlinks different situations, and settings. “You have different people from different lives doing different things and all become linked by the rhino. The movie goes from the traditional hunters to the other hunters who're only hunting for the rhino horn, and then a businessman is linked to that. Then you have your conservationist who is passionate about rhino conservation. It unfolds the entire story under one roof and that's where Gabriel comes in.
“It goes beyond rhinos - it has ways of touching different types of stories that are timely and relevant. It's not only talking about rhino issues, it goes in different angles addressing current and relevant issues. It addresses diversity issues, including xenophobia, as well - it has different facets.”
To give the film its high pedigree, Dual Films assembled a skilled crew and talented ensemble of cast. Director of photography, Dino Benedetti, explains his attraction to the film. “I've always been extremely passionate about wildlife and movies. So this is the perfect movie for me to shoot. I got a phone call from Darrell a while ago saying ‘hey, I've got this cool movie, do you want to come in and shoot it?’ This was another movie, which ended up not happening. Luckily, he said he was also busy with this one [Bloodline] and I was like, ‘hell I'd rather shoot that movie, it sounds right up my street! So, we went forward and I think we've made an incredible movie.”
Supporting Tariku as the female lead is Hollywood actor, Erin Ross, who felt compelled to take the role: “What drew me was the content itself. My character's so special because I play a conservationist who's working with rhinos and helping to get them back into the wild after they've been left behind when their mothers have been butchered. I've done so much research about it now and it's just the saddest, most tragic thing ever. It’s important to get that story out there because I feel like although there are people in the United States who are aware of this plight and are doing something about it, we need to increase the exposure and I think a film like this can do that.”
South African actress, Erica Wessels, who plays the role of Captain Heidi Holland a character who crosses paths with Gabriel following the investigation of Logan’s murder joined the project because she had worked with Roodt a number of times. “The content is invaluable and I'm fiercely passionate about the environment and conservation. I just the thought to be able to do what you love, working with people that you love, playing the type of character that you would very rarely play and working on something that you believe in - that's rare, so do it.”
Hollywood actor, Rocky Myers, acts alongside Wessels as her partner on the hunt for Gabriel. Myers, also having worked with Roodt in the past, jumped at the opportunity to make such a relevant film: “…I was aware that the rhinos were endangered but I honestly did not know how extreme it was. Any time you get a chance to do something that's relevant, that’s current and impactful, and can make a difference you know you want to be a part of it.
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NOW OR NEVER
“Bloodline” revolves around one of the most brutal and bloody trades in the world today. Rhino poaching has led to the death of over 6 000 rhino since 2008, and the Western Black Rhino is now extinct with other species on the brink of being wiped out.
Close to the hearts of all the cast and crew is the rapidly decreasing population of the rhino as well as a core plot in what brings these multiple storylines together. Bogale says, “Bloodline is a very relevant story, timely, especially with what is happening with rhino poaching in Southern Africa. If you look back at history, you have all these wild animals going extinct and they're not around us anymore. That's the kind of path that rhinos are taking. Only last year, over 1 400 rhinos were slaughtered. Every day in South Africa, 3 rhinos get slaughtered. At this speed, you'll find rhinos disappearing very soon”.
Bogale has a history of charity through his entrepreneurial work, including the Shoe4Child initiative (shoe4child.org).
“Bloodline: Now or Never” marks the first time that he will be focusing his attention on the plight of the rhinos: “I also have a background in doing charity work in disadvantaged communities but with rhinos, in a matter of a few years would be extinct. We don't want to see them in pictures, books or movies. We want to make sure the awareness reaches out and it can be rescued. So, I felt “Bloodline” is the best way to address the current wrangling around rhino issues, from farm owners to conservationists; to law enforcement and the international community. The rhino is such an incredible species. You can't find this kind of animal anywhere in the world.”
As the first fiction film to dramatize the subject matter “Bloodline” is ahead of its time. With rhino-poaching being such a contentious issue today with vast disagreements about how it should be solved, Bogale brings a multi-faceted look at the issue. “The issue of rhino poaching is something that's very relevant to us, I mean every day we see it on the news, on social media etc. So I was wondering why no one has made this film yet. There's a bunch of people chasing these kinds of movies so I thought I'd just dive in first. Every time you go to anywhere you pick up a car magazine and inside the car magazine will be an editorial on rhino poaching and it was like ‘wow, it had really penetrated the public consciousness’ and because of that I was like ‘come on, it's time to write this movie before it's too late.”
Shooting took the crew to a remote, private location in order to film these magnificent animals in their natural habitat. Conservationist and proprietor of “The Rhino Orphanage”, Pete Richardson, joined the crew in order to facilitate the filming in an authentic location. He also gave input in the fight to conserve the rhino. “Any project that focuses on and highlights the tragic situation that we face in South Africa with rhino poaching, we like to try and support if it fits in with our view of the battle against poaching. From the first meeting with the filmmakers it was clear that one of the reasons behind the film was to raise global awareness of the murderouscarnage going on in South Africa particularly - where ninety four percent of the world's Rhino live within the poaching war. There was an instant synergy and the guys behind the film seem to understand what we're trying to do at The Rhino Orphanage and we are one hundred percent behind the awareness that this film will raise globally.”
Cinematically portraying these beautiful animals necessitated the crew’s adherence to strident precautions while filming in their habitat. Richardson stresses that, “Security is of paramount importance. The people who are waging war on the rhino population are doing it to a military level equivalent to the drug lords in Colombia. They are extremely well funded, extremely well organized, and techno savvy. So for instance they would use they would use GPS on phones to triangulate positions of rhinos when people taking photos and posting on social media etc. We take security extremely seriously so we have a dedicated large scale anti-poaching unit who are 24/7.”
Tariku Bogale stresses the importance of keeping these animals alive. “The rhino is one of the big five and in the future it's only going to be the big four. They're incredible animals in that they have a horn in front of their eyes – what kind of other animal has that? It's an important wild animal to be kept, especially for generations to come unless they'll become like dinosaurs. We have to see them survive.”
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A NEW VISION
“Bloodline” pulls no punches in its depiction of this gruesome trade. A stalwart in the international business community, who is known for his sensitive and relevant portrayals of social issues, Bogale brings a startling realism to the movie. “What I really like about this movie is that hasn't just got a sentimental storyline of ‘the rhinos are poached and they found the baby rhino and the people bond with it’. Bloodline is comprised of four colliding stories that deal with many layers of rhino poaching. So, we've got traditional hunters, versus the CIA who are on the trail of Al-Qaeda as there are affiliates of that organization who are using rhino poaching to fund their terrorism, so it deals with all these really varied aspects of the story, and I find that very interesting.”
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WHO CAN STOP THE KILLING?
In the multiple roles of lead actor, producer and writer is Tariku Bogale, who comes from a strong business background, having established various companies throughout the world including Africa, Europe and the U.S., in diverse industries from Travel and Tourism, to Retail, Real Estate, Finance, and Technology. “My background is a serial entrepreneur, I've done a lot of different types of businesses. When “Bloodline” landed in my hand, I treated it as a golden opportunity”.
Bogale plays the main character, “Gabriel”, an ex-Belgian Special Forces soldier who comes to South Africa where he falls in love with a conservationist, “Logan”, played by Erin Ross. Bogale explains that Gabriel is a heroic character. “He is an angel who protects other peoples' interests out there. If he finds people in a disadvantaged or weak position, his intervention is guided by his moral conscience to do what is right. Gabriel's purpose is to combat the poaching, to train the anti-poaching unit. At his core he has the strength to take a stand in the face of unethical and dishonorable actions, and he takes justice into his own hands. I've tried to put myself in his shoes” says Bogale.
With the same dedication and passion evidenced in his successful career as an entrepreneur, Bogale set about detailed preparation to embark on his new venture into filmmaking. As groundwork for his passion project, “Bloodline”, Tariku had a brief an intensive filmmaking session led by prolific writer, director, producer and media expert, Marc Zicree, in Los Angeles. On return to South Africa, he tested himself by performing for veteran actress and tutor, Dorothy Ann Gould, who commented that he was more than ready and not in need of further training from her.
Tariku threw himself into priming himself for the physical and technical challenges of playing a Special Forces agent, and attended Tactical Assault Training. He now has vast in-the-field experience ranging from sniper and counter-sniper tactics, to hand grenade drills, bush and camouflage tactics, field medical aid, rapid evacuation, covert and ambush tactics, penetration and clearing tactics, rapid action and patrols, dog patrol, abseiling and helicopter assault tactics: “I went for five weeks for special force training, including SWAT tactics in the bush and Ranger and Special Force training because my character is a Belgian special forces soldier coming to train an anti-poaching unit. So I had to have that kind of intensive training in multiple aspects of combat, even first aid and evacuation. Although it was an intense experience doing it in the bush in my army uniform standards, I really enjoyed that part of my training. Now I'm really a commando, a soldier - so it was a valuable experience.”