Cape Town short films sail the seas of doom

Posted by Tyson Jopson on 1 October 2013

The Flying Dutchman is the legendary ghost ship doomed to sail the southern latitudes of Africa forever. If you haven’t heard of it, check out the story further down. This year it has been chosen as the theme – The Phantom – for the third annual shnit Realtime Competition: a challenge of cinematic inspiration that takes script to screen in 72 hours.



Shnit gets real

The shnit Realtime Competition will see three local directors put everything on the line to interpret this legendary tale of mystery, impending doom, or loneliness, any way they want and bring it to life in week leading up to the final night of the shnit International Shortfilmfestival, being held in Cape Town from 01 October to 06 October. The competition is in its fourth year now and is, once again, 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 great film.


shnit Realtime Competition 2013, Cape Town

Here’s how it works

Three 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. Once each of the filmmakers has had their three days all their films are screened publicly for the first time at the shnit awards ceremony (07 October) and the winner is chosen through an audience vote. Follow each director’s progress and check out images and updates from the set:

Twitter: @Shnitrealtime



The filmmakers

This year, the competition a diverse group of directors, each with the ability to bring The Phantom to life in a unique way.


Tlhonepho Thobejane

Tlhonepho Thobejane, shit Realtime, Cape Town

Tlhonepho Thobejane works as a producer while pursuing her dream of film directing. Recent work includes acclaimed music videos for Alec Lomami and Crimson House Blues. ‘I have always wanted to make stories about youth in South Africa and portray Africa in a more positive light. I am influenced a lot by what I hear on the streets and from friends every day, everything sounds like a good story. My inspiration is Wes Anderson; I especially loved The Life Aquatic and I hope to one day be as good as he is.’


Marco van der Merwe

Marco van der Merwe, shit Realtime, Cape Town

Marco van der Merwehas been working in the film and advertising business for over seven years, making a name for himself as the go to guy for any situation. Working as a Senior VFX artist built from a background of live action direction Marco has amassed a skillset that enables him to realize any concept no matter how imaginative. Marco’s style leans to the cinematic or ‘Hollywood’. The epic and grandiose is what he aims for with every project, that escape from reality we all love in film.


Gambit Films

Gambit Films, shit Realtime, Cape Town

Gambit Films was founded in 2009 when a group of passionate, qualified film fanatics formed a multimedia agency that focuses on creating, developing and producing new and innovative intellectual property for Film, Television and Commercials. Mouthful? Not really… Partnered with a series of super-awesome companies, we’re all about going beyond the ordinary. To us, filmmaking is not just another job… It’s a lifestyle; and loving every minute of it is the reason we’re a success story.


The inspiration

As I mentioned, the theme this year is the Flying Dutchman and like the 2012 shnit Realtime theme, Van hunks and the Devil, it’s based on Cape legend. If you haven’t heard/read it, here it is:

‘According to mythical folklore, the Flying Dutchmen is a ship doomed to sail the oceans forever. Sightings have placed it all over the world but according to the legend the vessel was lost rounding rounding the Cape of Good Hope. Captain Hendrick Vanderdecken was said to be at the helm and shouted at the wind that he and his crew would rather be damned than not making the port that night … they never did. If hailed by another ship, the crew of the Flying Dutchman would try to send messages to land. In ocean lore, the sight of this phantom ship is an omen of doom.’


The sponsors

These are guys that make this competition possible. Without them all it would be is a director with a pipe dream. Thanks to these guys, the  three films will be all filmed with the same equipment and have the same resources (shooting, editing and scoring) at their disposal, making the competition as fair as possible.

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 Digital (grading)

Flexfit (clothing)

shnit Realtime Competition 2013, Cape Town


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 on Orange Street from 02 – 06 October. In the meantime visit and check out shnit Realtime on Facebook for updates on the filmmakers bios and follow shnit Realtime on Twitter to keep up with the action.


Main image by Ryan Dingman

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