The stunning SA locations of Ridley Scott’s epic sci-fi series ’Raised by Wolves’

By Clinton Moodley

Feb 3, 2021

Share this article:

Did you know South African locations like Stellenbosch and Lourensford wine estate in Somerset West form the haunting backdrop of planet Kepler 22-b in HBO’s show-stopping Raised by Wolves?

The show, which is on Showmax, follows two androids tasked with raising human children on a virgin planet after earth has been destroyed in a religious war.

Four-time Oscar and Golden Globe nominee Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, The Martian, Prometheus and Gladiator) executive produces and directs the first two episodes of the series.

He told Forbes about Lourensford, “We found a range of mountains that were in your face for about a kilometre, and every morning, this tablecloth of cloud would come in, it would just roll over them, and I went, ‘Oh my God!’ It was surreal, it was otherworldly, so half the work was done, just by the location.”

He said the quiver trees, also known as kokerboom trees, made the South African landscape feel different to foreign audiences.


SA photographer lauded for capturing magic of the silverscreen

Sigourney Weaver is proud that 'Alien' still resonates with film fans

Visit Morocco for a real-life 'Game of Thrones' experience

Scott said: "What I loved in the desert were the trees, which were something in the aloe/cactus family. I said, ‘I have to have those trees.’ We got permission to transplant some onto a piece of terrain less than a kilometre from the foot of this beautiful mountain range.“

Raised by Wolves also filmed at locations like the Good Hope Centre and the old Maitland abattoir.

Raised by Wolves has already been nominated for three 2021 Critics Choice Super Awards for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Series, Best Actor: Sci-Fi for Travis Fimmel (Vikings’ Ragnar) and Best Actress for Sci-Fi for Danish actress Amanda Collin.

The show stars Abubakar Salim (Jamestown, Fortitude), Niamh Algar (Pure, MotherFatherSon), and Matias Varela (Narcos, The Borgias, Assassin’s Creed), Clayton Evertson (Arendsvlei), Susan Danford (Still Breathing) and Litha Bam (Intersexions),.

Film Afrika line producer Cheryl Eatock confirms Raised By Wolves is the biggest budget show ever to film in South Africa.

She said season 1 created nearly 700 full-time equivalent jobs, 52% of which went to youth and 66% of which went to historically disadvantaged individuals.

The series also hired 1200 businesses, predominantly small, medium and micro-enterprises. Around 25 historically disadvantaged individuals received hands-on training, facilitated by the non-profit The SA Film Academy (SAFA), and 18 SAFA alumni worked as full crew members of Raised By Wolves.

Sarah Aubrey, head of HBO Max said she cannot wait for a second season, which will be shot in South Africa.

“This chart-topping series beautifully weaves together Ridley’s hallmarks of sci-fi and horror while offering fans one of the most original storylines they’ve seen in some time,” she said.

Season 2 is also pioneering a more sustainable approach to filmmaking. During season 1, GreenSet, a local non-profit film industry sustainability organisation, in partnership with Wrap Zero, diverted tons of organic waste from landfill to organic gardens.

They installed a solar cell tower at Lourensford and donated 97 tons of wood to charities for reuse. For season 2, GreenSet, in partnership with Credible Carbon, has developed a groundbreaking carbon calculator, with 63 key film-industry specific environmental indicators, to measure the carbon footprint of the production.