A short film by award-winning Durban filmmaker, Janet van Eeden, has been selected
for the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF). A Shot at the Big Time will be
screened as part of a Think!Fest panel on the Legacy of Apartheid Conference during
the National Arts Festival in July this year.
The film was inspired by the story of Van Eeden’s brother, Jimmy, who died on the
border three days after arriving on the front in 1979 during the Apartheid Border Wars.
The movie is directed by Australian-based Stephen de Villiers, co-produced by Janet
van Eeden and London-based Magda M. Olchawska, with Durban-based Luke Pallett as
director of photography. Original songs have been written by Jonathan Handley of
1980s Radio Rats fame, while the score has been composed by John McGuiness.
Van Eeden is production course coordinator and screenwriting lecturer at AFDA (the
South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance) in Durban. She’s
written and produced several stage plays and wrote the script for the internationally
acclaimed White Lion (2010).
According to Van Eeden, it has taken nine years to write the poignant story inspired
by her brother’s death. A Shot at the Big Time was produced as a promo for the full-
length feature, in the hopes of attracting further funds.
The film was shot on location in Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal and surrounds and
features Sean M. Cameron as Staff Sergeant Van Staden, AFDA graduate Brad
Backhouse as Jimmy, the small-town rock star with a big future, who is drafted into
the army and celebrated actor Tim Wells, who plays the role of Corporal Wiese.
TQ Zondi, a drama student from the UKZN (University of KwaZulu-Natal) plays the
role of Petrus, Jimmy’s friend. Others in the cast include Caitlin Harrison as Jess,
Cade White as young Jimmy, Livvy Henning as young Jess and Mapumelelo
Maphumulo as young Petrus.
“After many years of trying to find the right producer to make this film in the way that
would pay tribute to my brother and others who died needlessly in this war, I decided
to take the reins into my own hands and produce this film myself,’ says Van Eeden.
She was inspired to this by Peter Broderick, a US crowd-funding expert who spoke at
the Durban Film Mart two years ago. Van Eeden launched her own crowd-funding
campaign on IndieGoGo.com on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 2011,
Remembrance Day, in honour of all those fallen in war.
“It was at a time of personal turmoil for me and I wasn’t too sure I knew what I was
doing, but I posted a YouTube clip of a song written especially for A Shot at the Big
Time by musician friend Jonathan Handley and put it up alongside the, by now, well-
honed treatment of the film.
“I had no idea of the response this film would receive, but within hours, the story
touched a chord in so many hearts of people around the world. Not only were people
donating money, they were also donating skills.
“This was a true labour of love with a string of people volunteering, including the full
cast consisting of a team of media honours students from UZKN under the guidance
of Navikiran Babulai and Karel Schmidt who created the EPK, the graphics design
company Visual Graphics that is based in Australia and that designed the poster,
publicist Sharlene Versfeld, photographer Val Adamson, wardrobe mistress Kirsty
Geldart-Mitchell and first assistant director Stuart Nixon.’
Van Eeden continues: “Money came from the most unexpected sources, and although
we didn’t raise a huge amount, it captured the imagination of these amazing people.
It was then I knew that this film had universal appeal and just had to be made.’
In 2012, the feature film project was selected for the DFM (Durban FilmMart) and this
year the short will be screened at the DIFF which runs from 18 to 28 July and that
attracts a significant number of industry guests and an audience of close to 32 000.
Van Eeden will speak on a panel at the Legacy of Apartheid Conference at the
National Arts Festival. “I will be drawing on my own experience as a sister of a young
man who lost his life as a result of the mental anguish he underwent as a victim of
“I will also reveal the very tough road I undertook to tell this story, which I might
add, was met with some frightening resistance from unknown entities in cyberspace,
determine to deny that this kind of thing ever actually happened. This of course has
made me even more determined to tell this story, in its full feature form.’
Go to www.shotthemovie.com or email
email@example.com for more
EPK link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Photo: Val Adamson