Novel SA lockdown film for DStv

James Cuningham, Skye Russell and Michelle Scott in a scene from Cabin Fever, created in the digital space, without budget or crew.

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BY BILLY SUTER

A UNIQUE South African feature film created solely with digital media during 34 days of coronavirus lockdown, is scheduled to premiere on DStv’s Box-Office platform on August 5.

The recently completed film, Cabin Fever, was made with zero budget, no producer, no crew and no formal script. It resulted from Cape Town-based director-writer Tim Greene editing the daily work of actors cast after a Facebook call for performers keen to be part of an innovative project Greene described as “liberating”.

Once he had chosen 10 actors from some 200 performers that expressed a desire to be part of the project, Greene and his small team set to work creating characters and storylines. Rehearsals and direction were done via Zoom sessions, meetings via Whatsapp, and each actor, under Greene’s direction, recorded his or her own footage with cellphones or laptops. Nobody met in person, only in online meetings.

The actors would send Greene their footage for editing and the edited results would then be shared between performers and redone if necessary, before moving the story along. The actors were scattered throughout the world – in South Africa, Belgium, Abu Dhabi, Wales and Australia – as this is where they were seeing out lockdown during the filming period.

Working on the film in this novel way was like workshopped theatre, says Greene, whose credits include the films Boy Called Twist (2004) and Skeem (2011). He has also worked on TV shows including Umlilo, Swartwater, Those Who Can’t , Class Act, Hard Copy and Intersexions.

Greene said a bonus was that the global casting of South African actors lent wonderful production values, with some great views captured from a number of lockdown venues.

Cape Town-based writer, director and editor Tim Greene, brainchild of Cabin Fever, a unique new South African film headed for DStv’s Box-Office platform on August 5.

Distributed by Anant Singh’s Videovision Entertaiment, and likely to be screened at film festivals, Cabin Fever stars Jenna Upton, Keenan Arrison, Ndoni Khanyile, James Cuningham, Michelle Scott, Skye Russell, Bonko Khoza, Tem Muller, Lesego Chabedi, Jessica Pietersen Scott and Angela Lieveaux.

The film tells of a family, all members of which are under lockdown in different parts of the world, that is brought together by a woman who learns her husband’s first wife is dying of Covid-19. Differences and conflicts come to the surface as each family member tries to come to terms with emotions that are heightened during the lockdown.

The drama is described as a haunting and emotional tale of a family flung to the far corners of the world, reaching out across the void to find intimacy, understanding and forgiveness.

“Never having met most of the cast, we’re all hoping to get together for a screening when all this is over,” says Greene, pointing out that he has realised the movie was “probably the only feature film made on the entire planet during April 2020”.

He adds:Cabin Fever was born on the internet, and we’re hoping it will find a home out there in the aether, for posterity.  It’s a document of an extraordinary moment.”

Looking forward, Greene is planning to shoot a film in December called The Fury.

“It is another innovative and extremely low-budget movie, set in one room over one night.  It’s the story of a young woman who believes she has found the man who raped her sister. She kidnaps him and puts him on trial, live-streamed via social media.”

To view the trailer for Cabin Fever click here: https://vimeo.com/418894808.


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