November 14, 2018

‘Girl From Nowhere’ is Most Watched Film on Showmax

Showmax execs have been thrilled by the success of their recent acquisition, local ‘grindhouse’ thriller Girl From Nowhere. They were sure it would do well but for a film with no prior cinema release, no marketing, and made on a minuscule production budget, no one expected it to fend off even big-budget Hollywood movies, to become the ‘most watched film’ on the platform for nearly two weeks.

After its debut on 1 July 2018, the grindhouse thriller stayed in the top 10 positions for 10 weeks. At the time of writing, Girl From Nowhere was the 11th most popular movie of the year on Showmax so far, across both local and international titles, even though it has only screened for 4 months. In Girl From Nowhere, a Cape Town couple,  Katherine and Hugh (played by Tamryn Speirs and Scot Cooper), are headed to their private mountain getaway in the Cederberg, when they pick up a hitchhiker, Liza (Christia Visser in what was her debut film role). She carries a gun, and after she is invited for lunch, the couple can’t get rid of her.

Director Mark Jackson says: “I’m really grateful to Showmax for taking this chance on my no-budget indie movie when it was unfortunately overlooked by local distributors. I think perhaps it’s done so well in part due to its gritty look and feel, great soundtrack, and to the strong, natural performances of the cast. I think perhaps audiences are wanting something different, and something that might feel more authentic to them, than some of the big budget Hollywood films.”

The film was shot in thirteen days, with a crew of just six people. “Shooting the film was really quick, partly because I shot it handheld. I had storyboarded the entire script, which helped a lot. And we shot in a house that didn’t need much set dressing. It didn’t have electricity either, so we filmed almost entirely in natural light, with paraffin lamps for the nights scenes. We didn’t need to worry about the generator or the cost of a lighting crew. I tried to add extra value where I could. One way was to use a beautiful outdoor location, not often seen on film. Another way was to beg and borrow great songs! I was blessed to have such awesome local musicians lend me their road-house-style tracks. And to have the legendary Nick Turner and Jonny Blundell write a completely original score, which helps carry the mood and tell the story.”

“As to the actors, Tamryn came on board first. After a lengthy casting process with about 30 different actresses, it was awesome to cast Christia, who was still at acting school and was Tamryn’s star pupil. And then Tamryn brought in the excellent Scot.” Despite shooting so quickly, post-production lasted three years. “I was working part-time on the post, so was only getting it done in between other work”. Grading and sound-mastering were two major costs Mark couldn’t escape. “Those costs ate up about two-thirds of the budget – something to watch out for. But I hope my film inspires other guerrilla filmmakers to try to look beyond financial constraints. Interesting films can be made on micro-budgets, and find big audiences on platforms like Showmax.” Mark is now hard at work on his next project. “I’m making a graphic novel of my next script, so producers and investors can read it easily. That should be done by April next year. More on that soon.”

Look at the storyboards on the film’s website and watch it on Showmax, here.

Watch the trailer Girl From Nowhere here: