Lockdown Heights

Schelaine Bennett is Tamara in 'Lockdown Heights.' (Photo supplied)
Schelaine Bennett is Tamara in 'Lockdown Heights.' (Photo supplied)


With the entire world under lockdown due to the on-going spread of Covid-19, in Johannesburg residents of an apartment complex, struggle to adhere to government restrictions and their lives are intertwined through scandalous affairs, murder and dangerous secrets. 


Written by Ayanda Makayi, Bradley Olivier, Kirsten Mohammad and Letuka Dlamini Lockdown Heights started as a passion project to keep the actors occupied during the nationwide lockdown, but the online episodes quickly grew into a fully-fledged 21-part series.

The concept behind Lockdown Heights is unlike anything else available online right now. The actors film their scenes from their homes, and it is then later edited to create a cohesive 10-minute episode.

The actors, who essentially take on the role of an entire TV crew, use clever camera techniques, and their body language to give the impression that they are interacting with another character, even though they are filming on different locations.

The on-going coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on the entertainment industry globally. Still, despite the physical hurdles, this local team of creatives have found a unique opportunity to create fresh, easy-to-consume content for the masses.

Although the project started with small intentions, the team managed to attach big-name actors to the series, including Clint Brink (Scandal!, Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story), Kay Sibiya (Uzalo), Camilla Waldman (Generations), and Schelaine Bennett (Generations, Isidingo).

These actors brought their wealth of experience to the project - creating a cohesive, exciting to watch and visually pleasing end-product. And it's fun to see the actors flex their creative muscles!

Those who may not have had the most experience behind the camera have used the opportunity to sharpen their producer skills, and I am very impressed with the collaborative effort.

Not only has the series a stellar cast, but Lockdown Heights also secured cameos by Nina Hastie and Melanie Bala - who played themselves.

If creativity is the series' biggest selling point, then the characters come in at a close second.

The characters are compelling, have fleshed-out backstories, and it's interesting to watch how their lives intertwine.

Lockdown Heights gives us a different perspective on lockdown and opens our eyes to the various circumstances that people might find themselves in as they practice social distancing.

There is a mother who finds herself trapped with her abuser, a brother in quarantine with a sister who arrived at his doorstep unannounced, and a family separated from each other due to movement restrictions.

Whatever situation you may find yourself in, you will find a character that you gravitate toward, because you either empathise with them or because you know someone in a similar situation.

Stir in a scandalous affair, murder and deadly secrets - and you have a recipe for soapie success! 

Not only is the fictional storyline compelling, but Lockdown Heights is also used as a vehicle to shed light on the truth about the pandemic, as well as dispel myths and call-out irresponsible reporting.

Being unchartered territory - and not having access to the proper equipment, Lockdown Heights comes with its issues. During the earlier episodes, there are some apparent issues with lighting and sound. But as the series progresses, the actors become more comfortable and use creative techniques behind the camera to iron out some of the initial problems.

It might be overwhelming at first, but I urge you to keep watching – as the storyline becomes more complex and the characters' storyline unravel, the series finds its stride quickly.

But despite the obvious consistency issues, I applaud the cast for looking at creative ways to bring South Africa quality content and keeping the country entertained.

Lockdown Heights is easy to digest in 10-minute weekly episodes, and you haven't yet caught on, you can binge-watch season one in one sittings.

New episodes of Lockdown Heights are available on IGTV weeknights at 20:30.



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