Cape Town short films strike deal with the devil

Posted by Tyson Jopson on 19 September 2012

If you’ve ever heard the tale of how Devil’s Peak, Cape Town, got its name, you’ll have heard the legend of Jan van Hunk and his epic smoke-off with the devil. If you haven’t, check out the story further down. This year Jan Van Hunks’ ominous wager has been set as the theme for the third annual Shnit Realtime Competition: a challenge of pure cinematic inspiration that takes script to screen in 72 hours.

Image courtesy of Peter Kreder on Flickr

Shnit gets real

The Shnit Realtime Competition is set to film from 01 October to 07 October this year and if last year’s competition is anything to go by it’s going to be a fast-paced three days for each of the five selected directors as they inkle out every ounce of inspiration they have to bring their stories to life. The competition is in its third year now (forming part of the Shnit International Shortfilmfestival) and is being headed up by local filmmakers Alasdair McCulloch and Sean Drummond. What makes the competition so appealing (and what makes it work) is the support the filmmakers will be getting from local film companies and organisations that have a passion for local film, but more on them later. The support, in the form of camera equipment, editing facilities and props means that each filmmaker can focus entirely on making a kickass film.

Here’s how it works

Four directors (see below) each have three days to shoot, edit and score a short film which will be screened on the last day of The Shnit International shortfilmfestival, being held in Cape Town from 03 – 07 October 2012. Each director has to have his/her script completed by 23 September (that’s this Sunday for those of you without calendars). They will then each be given a slot of three days to bring their wordy little embryos to life. Side note: I had an absolute blast on set last year (check out the photos here) and will be on the set of each of the films this year, taking photos and making people nervous. Once each of the filmmakers has had their three days all their films are screened publicly for the first time at Shnit’s awards ceremony (07 October) and the winner is chosen through an audience vote.

The filmmakers

Last year there were three filmmakers, this year the competition has grown to four.

Alan Shelley
Alan Shelley recently won the Jameson First Shot Competition with his script Spirit of a Denture in which he directed that famous dude Kevin Spacey. Check out the short film below and read Alan Shelley’s full bio here.

Helen J. Raine
@helenjraine @motioncityfilms
Helen Raine is a director at Motion City Films. Work includes the short doucmentary Rock and Roll Soweto (see below) as well as music videos for Ashtray Electric, Locnville and soon to be released Red Huxley. Check out Helen Raine’s full bio here.

Sakhumzi Mati
Sakhumi Mati started working in film with a Diploma in Theatre and Performance at the University of Cape Town and has worked in various capacities befor moving on to direct short films such as The Bible (which won Best Director and Overall film at the DSTV Short Film Competition 2012) as well as Umthandazo (“The Prayer”). Watch the trailer below and read Sakhumzi Mati’s full bio here.

Jean-Paul Moodie
Jean Paul Moodie has been working in the film industry for the past six years. He initially began his career by focusing on the documentary genre. Jean-Paul is currently working in the role of producer and senior editor for CarTV. Read Jean Paul’s full bio here.

Image courtesy of Keith Williamson on Flickr

The inspiration

As I mentioned, the theme this year is The Wager and like last year’s theme Cape of Storms it’s based on Cape legend. If you haven’t heard/read it, here it is:

“Jan van Hunks lived at the foot of Charles Mountain. Jan liked to smoke and was proud of it, but his wife was the opposite and she would send him out of the house every time he lit up. One day while he was sitting on the porch, a mysterious figure with a pipe in hand appeared. Jan automatically began his bragging, about how much he could smoke, he spoke and spoke without respite, all the while failing to notice that the shady character had two horns and a forked tail. Before he knew it, he’d struck a deal with the devil, and a ferocious pipe-smoking contest ensued. All Van Hunk’s big talk became real, as he eventually won the contest, but not before the mountain was covered in a Table Cloth cloud of smoke. This is how Charles Mountain became known as Devil’s Peak.”

It’s up to each filmmaker to interpret the theme of The Wager in any shape or form and apply it to their short film. Let the ideas abound …

The sponsors

These are guys that make this competition possible. Seriously, without them all it would be is a director with a pipe dream (and if you’ve ever tried to make a film before you know what that feels like). Thanks to these guys, the five films will be all filmed with the same equipment and have the same resources (shooting, editing and scoring) at their disposal.

The Propfather (sets and props):

Zootee Studios (all production equipment):

Priest Post (editing and grading):

Sound Surgeon Studios (sound design and score)

Seven Four Four Media (DaVinci resolve)

The Monk (Final Online)

Get your Shnit together

If you’re interested in checking these short films out, make sure you get your Shnit together and attend the Shnit International Shortfilmfestival this year which will be held at the Labia Theatre and at Rocking the Daisies Music Festival from 03 – 07 October. In the meantime check out Shnit Realtime on Facebook for updates on the filmmakers bios and follow Shnit Realtime on Twitter to keep up with the action. I will also be posting the links to last year’s final films as they are uploaded.

Shnit Realtime

Twitter: @Shnitrealtime 

Behind the scenes at Shnit Realtime 2011

And now, what’s all this Shnit?

For those of you who like to read the fine print, here is a full breakdown of the rules for the Shnit Realtime Competition.

The rules:

1. A team is restricted to one entry only, in the Realtime competition.

2. A competing team may consist of anyone that that filmmaker has chosen, but they however must stay as the creative and production head of their film.

3. The production and post-production of the competition will run from Sunday 30th September until Saturday 6th October.

4. The given theme must be visible in a literal or figurative form within the film.

5. All Production and Post Production equipment/facilities utilised must be from the official Shnit Realtime Partners, unless previously motivated to and approved by, the Shnit Realtime team. However, a competing team’s private computer may be used for one or more of the following: editing, grading, titling or VFX.

6. No use of copyrighted material may be used in the films, unless permissions are approved by the source, prior to the screenings.

7. Each film must be completed by 00h00 of a team’s final day, closing their 72 hour timeslot. The fifth and final film must be handed in by 00h00 on SUNDAY 7th October.

8. All films must be delivered in a common digital data format and codec (1920×1080 frame size and minimum sound settings of 44.1 kHz and 128 kbps). Please enquire with Priest Post as to what format they will be using.

9. The films cannot be shorter than a minute or exceed 7 minutes.

10. The winning team is chosen on the Shnit closing night of the 7th October 2012, via the Audience Award. The audience decision is final.

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