If you're looking for underground South African film-making, this brand new film probably qualifies. Girl from Nowhere, an "indie-erotic thriller', is the story of "a troubled drifter by the name of Liza, who hitches a ride with a Cape Town couple on their way to their mountain getaway. Taking pity on the sassy desert flower, the couple's decision to give her a ride takes a turn for the worse
Mark Jackson spent 4 years making this tiny gem of a film, almost without any help whatsoever. There was no film financer, no charity funding and no producer. Few can believe Mark made this 85 minute film practically on his own - writing, storyboarding, shooting, directing, producing and editing it himself, on a budget of less than R300,000.
"I couldn't do the sound, so that was a third of the cost. Another big portion went to professional grading, because you can't skimp on the look. But I was able to add value in other ways - For the music, I was very lucky to be able get such great local musicians to add immense value with the beautiful soundtrack. And we shot in a loose style, in a incredible location that needed no set dressing. It was also filmed natural light, so we were able to shoot very fast, and tight, with every shot storyboarded."
Mark was also lucky in his choice of cast. Master actress Tamryn Speirs plays Katherine, a TV producer looking for a change in life. Tamryn identified her former pupil Christia Visser as a talent to watch, so this film became Christia's first major starring role, as Liza, the devil-may-care hitchhiker. Watching her, it's easy to see why she would later win awards. The trio is rounded off by Scot Cooper, who effortlessly plays the role of an affable yet narcissistic actor looking to get ahead.
Mark says "Reaction to the film so far has been amazing. People can't believe what was done with a budget that is probably smaller than Charlize Theron's lunch allownace. Now it's about getting the film out there, and seen by distributors. Which, like everything in the film-making process, is harder than I imagined. But nothing is impossible."
At the end of last month, the movie had a suitably underground premiere at the Labia cinema, and garnered a review from well known critic Spling, who labelled it 'gritty', and 'Lolita meets U-Turn'. Read Spling's review and watch the movie trailer on www.GFNmovie.com
And what's next for this multi-talented filmmaker - Mark has another script, The Oracle Machine, ready to go. "No ways am I financing that myself though. Next time, I want a budget. But it's really hard to get producers to read scripts, so I'm launching it as a graphic novel on Kickstarter first. Look out for that very soon."
GIRL FROM NOWHERE is a late entry to the Cape Town Film Festival, showing in competition this Friday 20th October at NuMetro7 at 12pm.