Filmmaker Tim Greene found a creative way to make "Cabin Fever".
Picture: Supplied
Filmmaker Tim Greene found a creative way to make "Cabin Fever". Picture: Supplied

Tim Greene makes history with lockdown movie, 'Cabin Fever'

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published May 28, 2020

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The lockdown has forced many individuals in the entertainment space to think out of the box and be creative in a more inspired and pioneering way. 

Filmmaker Tim Greene has done just that - he made a movie while self-isolating at home.

"Cabin Fever" was shot sans crew or specialist movie equipment. It was filmed by the cast using phones and laptops. 

The script was written in installments as a series of video calls, messages and meetings. And the narrative blended with the locations and props available. 

Jenna Upton, James Cuningham and Ndoni Khanyile in Tim Greene's lockdown movie, "Cabin Fever". Picture: Supplied

Written and directed by Greene, "Cabin Fever" explores the strained dynamics of one family. Sarah Clayburn (Jenna Upton) is a high-flying commercial artist stuck at the family home in Cape Town while her husband Andrew (James Cuningham) is in Abu Dhabi with his adult children from his first marriage to Deborah (Michelle Scott). 

Aside from the emotional frustrations stemming from the Covid-19 lockdown, the situation is strained by the news of Deborah dying from the virus. As such, Deborah tries to mend broken fences through an online gathering with the entire family.

On pursuing such an unprecedented undertaking, Greene said: “Making a movie like this would have been quite impossible ten years ago. We really got the most out of all the free web-based tech. We used Facebook to get the ball rolling, had a WhatsApp group to share the latest script installments and the edited scenes. 

"We used Zoom to bring all the actors face-to-face to rehearse and get direction before they all headed off to shoot their shots in isolation.  And then we used WeTransfer to get all the footage together for editing. 

"Casting took place on Facebook, where actors would post introduction videos about who they are and where they were locked down. Because it was a package deal, selecting a cast meant choosing their location as well!”

Lesego Chabedi and Bonko Khoza in Tim Greene's lockdown movie, "Cabin Fever". Picture: Supplied

Of course, making the movie wasn’t without learning curves. 

He shared: “I guess it’s about resilience and soldiering on. I was so worried, freaking out that the lockdown would be lifted and everybody would drift back to real-life and lose interest in the project. Turns out I had nothing to worry about there. 

"But looking after kids for four hours a day, plus meals and housekeeping and sleep left me with about five hours each day to write, rehearse, direct and edit the movie. It was utterly exhausting, but I must be honest; the most creative and energizing time of my life. 

“And I got so lucky with my cast; not only were they great performers, but they are the nicest, most accommodating, patient and resilient people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.  And some of them turned out to be extremely talented camera operators as well.”

CABIN FEVER Trailer from Tim Greene SA on Vimeo.

On how he plans to release this movie, Greene revealed: “This project actually reminds me a lot of my first feature film, 'Boy Called Twist', which I crowd-financed by getting 1000 investors to each pledge R1 000, back in 2003, many years before the idea of crowd-financing was even a thing. I’ve felt very much the same sort of encouragement and support with 'Cabin Fever', I guess because it’s also a fresh and creative solution to a seemingly impossible situation. Conceived and created online, it seems natural that this film finds a home on a streaming platform, and we’re currently in negotiations.”

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