The chisel used at Door 10 in the film is the actual chisel used in the escape. Tim Jenkin had kept it through the years and lent it to the production.
Tim Jenkin, who took part in the escape and whose book "Inside Out: Escape from Pretoria Prison" inspired the film, has a cameo in the film as a prisoner.
In May 1980, the warden who had been on duty of the night of the escape, Sergeant Vermeulen, was put on trial for aiding in the escape of three prisoners. Stephen Lee, having first written to a newspaper explaining that Vermeulen played no part in the escape, upon request sent a sworn statement to Vermeulen's defence attorney stating his innocence. The combination of this and the many inconsistencies in Vermeulen's forced 'confession' led to his eventual acquittal.
A close cousin of Tim Jenkin - who grew up with Tim in Cape Town ('as close as a sister') - married, moved away, and then lost touch for decades. Whilst looking for locations to film at in Adelaide, Australia, in late 2018, director Francis Annan and producer Mark Blaney 'bumped into' a couple from South Africa ... the wife being Tim's second cousin, and her mother, Tim's long-lost cousin from Cape Town. They appear as extras in the film.
Despite having to conflate some characters and elements of the story to fit into 105 minutes screen time, the team were keen to ensure authenticity where possible in the story telling. Tim Jenkin's on-set comment that some major scenes were 'almost exactly how it actually happened' was therefore a great encouragement.
After casting was complete for the part of Denis Goldberg, it transpired that actor Ian Hart, who plays Denis in the film, actually lives in London almost opposite the real Stephen Lee.
During a 2017 explorative story & financing trip to S Africa, director Francis Annan and producer Mark Blaney ventured to the real Pretoria Prison (now Pretoria's Women's Correctional Centre) to retrace the steps of the 1979 escapees. Realising, most unexpectedly, they could gain access to the inner perimeter, and stand on the actual spot where the escape concluded [outside Door 10], the film makers found themselves almost locked in when the outer security gates closed without warning ...
The prison used for filming in the movie is Redruth Gaol is a historic former prison situated in Burra in South Australia. Later known as the Redruth Reformatory, it now operates as a country museum. It was previously used as a filming location in Breaker Morant (1980) where it portrayed a military prison. Breaker Morant (1980) was also set in South Africa. Both pictures feature escapes from prisons. Moreover, 'Escape from Pretoria' (2020) actually premiered in the 40th Annivesary year of Breaker Morant (1980).
Daniel Radcliffe and Ian Hart previously worked together in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001), where Radcliffe played Harry Potter and Hart played Professor Quirrel.
In 1991, the escapees Tim Jenkin, Stephen Lee & Leonard Fontaine, were all pardoned by the then South African president F.W. de Klerk.
Travelling through Angola, Zambia, Tanzania, and finally to London, Tim Jenkin continued fighting against apartheid, working underground for the ANC in exile, until the first free elections of South Africa in 1994.
The nickname for South Africa's notorious Pretoria Prison was ''white man's Robben Island''.
Two South Australian jails portrayed the Pretoria Prison. They were the Redruth Gaol in Burra and the Old Adelaide Gaol in the South Australian capital city of Adelaide. The Pretoria penitentiary interiors were shot at the Old Holden Car Factory at Elizabeth in South Australia.
Eighteen months after his arrival in Pretoria in South Africa, Tim Jenkin, together with Stephen Lee and Leonard Fontaine, escaped through ten maximum security doors, armed only with wooden keys, painstakingly designed, crafted and tested in the main by Jenkin, the mastermind behind the escape.
It was through the 2012 edition of 'The Pitch' that Footprint Films producing partners, Mark Blaney and Jackie Sheppard, forged a partnership with pitch entrant and aspiring filmmaker, Francis Annan, which eventually led to the making of 'Escape from Pretoria' (2020).
Second feature film shot in South Australia starring English actor Daniel Radcliffe. His first was 'December Boys' (2007) about thirteen years earlier. In between, Radcliffe has also starred in director Greg McLean's 'Jungle' (2017) which shot in Queensland, Australia
Actor Ian Hart replaced actor Sam Neill in the role of Denis Goldberg. Neill was originally cast in the role in May 2017 which garnered much publicity. Neill previously starred in the South Australian Film Corporation's production of 'Robbery Under Arms' (1985).
The movie, set in South Africa, was shot in South Australia. Previously, the classic Australian film Breaker Morant (1980), also set in South Africa, had also been shot in South Australia. The prison escape plan and jail break out by the political prisoners seen in 'Escape from Pretoria' (2020) occured in 1979 in both the film and real life. This was the same year as when Breaker Morant (1980) shot in South Australia.
The 20th May 2017 edition of show-business trade paper 'The Hollywood Reporter' stated that the production was ''set to 'begin shooting in early 2018 in South Africa.'' In the end, the production was actually filmed entirely in South Australia during March and April 2019.
"Footprint Films and BeaglePug are thrilled to be working with the SAFC, Arclight Films and MEP Capital to bring to life one of the most daring and ingenious prison escapes of the twentieth century," said UK Producers David Barron, Mark Blaney and Jackie Sheppard. "We're also very excited to be working with the immensely talented Francis Annan and our outstanding cast on this astonishing true story. Much more than just another prison break thriller, 'Escape From Pretoria' is a story of our time, a story of risking everything in the fight for freedom and equality, against injustice and oppression."
This film was first released about seventeen years after its source book ''Inside Out: Escape from Pretoria Prison'' by Tim Jenkin had been first published in 2003.
"We are delighted to be collaborating with the brilliant team at the SAFC and MEP Capital, and the producers at BeaglePug and Footprint Films," said Arclight Chairman Gary Hamilton. "They are fantastic partners to bring this extraordinary tale to life and we look forward to seeing this incredible film in cinemas around the world very soon."
Fourth modern major South Australian prison movie. The first two pictures, which had both debuted in the same year in 1980, were Breaker Morant (1980), which featured a military prison, which was portrayed by the Redruth Gaol in Burra, South Australia, and Stir (1980), which filmed at the Gladstone Jail in Gladstone, South Australia, and which portrayed that film's fictional "Gatunga Gaol". For 'Sweet Talker' (1991), which mostly filmed in Beachport, the actual opening correction facility exterior scenes in Sweet Talker (1991) were actually filmed at the Long Bay Gaol in Sydney, New South Wales in Australia. In 'Escape from Pretoria' (2020), the Pretoria Prison was shot in two main locations, with the Old Adelaide Gaol providing exteriors, and the Old Holden Factory at Elizabeth providing interiors.
Director Francis Annan has said of this movie: ''I'm directing this film because, as well as it being an absorbing, complicated and meticulous true story that readily lends itself to the visually dominant kind of storytelling I'm excited by, I'm also very intrigued by the premise of the main characters stepping outside of their comfort zones (ethnically, economically and geographically) to join a cause they feel morally compelled towards.''
Of the production, South Australia's Minister for Industry and Skills, Hon. David Pisoni MP, said: "South Australia's increasing ability to attract major international productions to shoot here is testament to our diverse and unique locations and world-class crews and facilities. The Marshall Liberal Government is investing in our local film industry to ensure we are globally competitive.''
The production was an official UK/Australian co-production between Hamilton Entertainment, BeaglePug and Footprint Films, in association with Arclight Films, MEP Capital, and the South Australian Film Corporation
Both of the film's top billed lead cast were both first-named ''Daniel'' they being Daniel Webber and Daniel Radcliffe.