The no-budget local film that's topping the Showmax charts

Mark Jackson struggled to get his film seen anywhere, until Showmax picked it up.
Mark Jackson struggled to get his film seen anywhere, until Showmax picked it up.

An independently made, low-budget local film has topped the viewing charts on streaming service Showmax.

Girl from Nowhere, directed by Cape Town film maker Mark Jackson, sees a couple pick up a mysterious hitchhiker – and then can’t get rid of her. It was picked up by Showmax and became its most watched film on the platform for nearly two weeks after its release on July 1.

Showmax wrote on its website: “After its debut ... the grindhouse thriller stayed in the top 10 position for 10 weeks. At the time of writing [October 31], Girl from Nowhere was the 11th most popular movie of the year on Showmax so far, across both local and international titles.”

Jackson is thrilled with the movie’s success, telling City Press in an email that at first, no one wanted to pick it up.

“My dodgy, no-budget movie was rejected by everyone. Most of the local distributors wouldn’t even watch it. But then I managed to squeeze it into the Cape Town film festival last year at the very last minute for one 12pm screening, attended by eight people – and then in June this year, finally, Showmax bought it.”

The movie stars Tamryn Speirs, Scot Cooper and Christia Visser. Visser also performed in the docu-drama Alison, a film about the brutal rape and stabbing of Alison Botha that took place in Port Elizabeth more than two decades ago.

Girl from Nowhere was shot by hand-held camera in 13 days, with a crew of just six people on Petersfield farm in Citrusdal in the Cedarberg, and Johnson used his own money.

“It cost much less than a low-budget TV commercial.”

We asked Jackson why he thought the film had been successful on Showmax. “I think Showmax viewers are looking for something different. South Africa is producing some great Afrikaans films, which is wonderful, but perhaps there’s also a need for even more local films in other languages too, and in this case, more English-language movies?”

He hopes that the film’s success will inspire others starting out in the industry.

“It might just inspire other local emerging film makers to just go for it and make a movie, even if they have no formal film degree, even if the National Film and Video Foundation rejects their script, and even if they have no funding and need to film and edit it themselves.

“And once made, the battle isn’t over. But they can still do it, despite all the naysayers, if they really stick to it. Underground films can succeed.”


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