Tag Archive: low budget moviemaking

The ‘break-in’ is the kind of scene that’s a nice ‘non-dialogue interlude of action’ – & an editor can stretch it if needed, with music. Because relentless dialogue can be tiring. A movie is not a play.

THE ORACLE MACHINE is both a graphic novel and the script for a live-action movie project. But movies can cost quite a bit, so movie-making becomes a business too, that usually must try give some kind of ROI (Return on Investment) to investors – be it emotional, financial, or preferably both.

It’s truly wonderful to know something you have helped to create is having an impact on multitudes of others.  And the financial returns can be huge. The excellent Trainspotting had a return ratio of about 60:1. Yes, filmmaking is always a gamble, but the higher the risk, the higher the rewards (and for some, the bigger those thrills). But I sincerely believe this project is relatively low-risk for a movie, and of course I’ll tell you why.


(Filmmaking is team-building! South African actors Suraya Santos and Grant Swanby posed for the drawings in the graphic novel.)

Three big factors mitigate the risks here:

Firstly, the script has been drawn out as a graphic novel, so my vision of it is perhaps clearer to communicate than as a written script.  It’s also easier for producers to scope out the locations and cast and action-sequences etc. And then price it. And it’s a step closer to the final product, so for myself as a filmmaker, it’s another opportunity to see how the script plays out – where is it too fast, too slow, unclear etc. And though the graphic novel format (mine anyway) can be a bit limited in conveying the emotional weight, I’m sure the actors will do an even more compelling job of telling this story.

Secondly, I have experience in filmmaking. I’m happy to say I’ve managed to get one original feature-length movie – GIRL FROM NOWHERE – made from start to finish. Although it was a micro-budget first film, made with about $20k, it’s out there now getting views. So imagine working with me and 100x that amount, and we’d still be on the lower end of the low-budget movie spectrum. i.e. I can stretch a budget and this script is constructed to be affordable to make.

Thirdly, Cape Town is a massively popular and highly economical filming location. We have very experienced crews here, seasoned even in the whims of international Hollywood productions. And filming in Cape Town is so darn cheap. No limits, and every kind of location. i.e. $1m spent here usually looks like $10m back in the States.

So let’s do it. Time is fleeting. Come on board and let’s make an awesome Indie-Genre African Sci-Fi Cutting-Edge Original A.I. Movie – THE ORACLE MACHINE!

This is Terri and Jessica acting out a scene from my other script ‘The Girl from Nowhere.’
I’m using it as an example to show some superb performances, but also how the script can sometimes be too big.
This was a cold first time reading – and I was too busy filming to be able to direct them – and they did an amazing job, and using the space too. (The picture frame is supposed to be an old bicycle mounted on the wall… hey, it’s improv.)
Terri is fantastic as the older lady who is getting put out by the young girl. Every look of hers carries so much weight. Jessica too handles it brilliantly. However, in retrospect, as a writer/director I might have played down the look Jessica gives the ‘husband’.  The line should maybe be just ‘and a husband…’ and then look at him. No need to say all that: ‘and a husband like him’, it’s far too obvious and explicit.

And this is the wonder of workshopping… it all becomes clear in 3D.

The music too helps tremendously with setting the tone. This is Jerry Goldsmith’s ‘Basic Instinct’. It flips between ominous and playful, keeping the audience upbeat and unsettled…