VFX and Miniatures

It’s felt like a while since I wrote a blog article. Post production is going well but everything takes longer than you would like it to. I spent the first 4 weeks of our time in Kenton cutting and doing VFX for our short narrative film. We had to shoot some of our scenes on green to get the look that we wanted. We’ve also bee doing sky replacements and in some scenes changing the colour of walls from lime green to something in our colour pallet. We have a first draft edit of the short, which is exciting. We’ve sent that off to a few people to get some feedback, but we already know that we need to shorten it by 6 minutes. We also want to change the opening to the film. We’ve put it aside for a while to come back to it with fresh eyes. Along with the final edit for the short we would also need to tackle colour grading, sound design and music.

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Most of these screenshots above have rough colour grades that need refining.

Since getting the first draft of the short film done we’ve shifted focus on to the ‘studio’ part of the documentary. If you’ve been following the project through development you might remember that the film has 3 parts each representing a personality of the trinity. The studio interviews represent Father God, as a result we wanted a clean look with a lot of white. We also wanted to have a setting that reflected the creativity of God. As a result we made a miniature studio with props and set dressing made out of paper.

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With this studio we’ve composited in the sections of interview we intend to use (we actually shot some of our interviews in portrait with this use in mind).

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We’ve also used to the father God studio for a dream sequence for the narrative film.

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These scenes took quite a lot of effort and Anneen did a fantastic job with scene dressing.

Just this week we’ve also been thinking about the title sequence for the film. We’ve been playing around with forced perspective which has been getting some cool results but quite a bit of work to figure everything out.


The father God interviews should be finished within the next few days which means a shift of focus on to the last component of our film, the Holy Spirit content. This represents also half of the film, but on the plus side there shouldn’t be any VFX / compositing (which is the real time killer).

All in all things are going well. We’re a bit behind and still hopeful to finish post before the end of the year. We’re not 100% sure distribution will happen before January, we’re working hard to get everything finished.

Some prayer points:
– We’ll really capture God’s heart whiles assembling everything we’ve shot
– We would love a music composer to collaborate with
– Anneen’s started looking for work and we need God to give us direction and open doors
– I’m trying to figure out if my next step is full time in film, a mixture of film and IT or just IT
– We’re getting a little bit burnt out
– Finances are a bit tight

Some praise points:
– We’ve got our own (quiet) space to get on with post production
– We’re excited about many of the components coming out of post production
– We’ve got a short holiday to East London coming up (planning to put aside work to recuperate)

Shooting Shenanigans

Date: Sunday 14 August 2016
Place: Rhodelle, Southern Suburbs, Cape Town
Objective: Shoot 13 scenes of “A Narrow Path” short film
Time frame: 09:00 – 20:00
Difficulty level: Ambitious


Jeff and I wake up early. We are excited and nervous. It is our first shoot day. It had finally arrived after a crazy week of running around organising actors, gear, location and props. A location scout the week before proved the location too small and we eventually managed to tie down the use of “Khalid’s house” on Thursday – what a relief! We pack the car and get ready to go. There is a lot of stuff and we will need to take two car loads. Jeff convinces his brother, Michael, to offer himself as manual labour.

Jeff drops me with the first load of stuff at Khalid’s house at 09:00. My job is set dressing. In other words moving everything we don’t want on the set out of the way and placing everything we want on set somewhere. There is a lot of stuff in the house and this is slow, arduous work. There are many decisions to make and not lots of time as we want to start shooting by 11:00. Mainala, my assistant, arrives at around 10:00 and I hurriedly try to get her up to speed. Time is running out and there is still a lot to do. Didier, one of our actors turned up early and he is hanging curtains for me, bless his heart.


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The two pictures above are courtesy of Hello Pictures

More actors start arriving from 10:30 and there is general chaos. Too many people, too little space and still a lot to do. Jeff has only just started setting up his gear… Mainala is running around getting everyone to sign release forms while I am talking to actors about wardrobe and props. I feel quite frantic and just hope that people are able to manage themselves. I can hardly manage myself. Some of the guys are helping me hang picture frames. 11:00 comes and goes in a whirlwind of activity and general chaos, so does 11:30 and 12:00 and… i think it is about 12:30 when we eventually pull ourselves together and start to shoot the first scene. Relief.

It feels like something is finally happening. Shooting is actually not going too badly. The actors are amazing. They are getting their lines well, but technically we are struggling a bit. There is just so little space and so much gear! Jeff is also struggling with lighting and why did we get a dolly? Oh right, production value… whatever that is.

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We move the order around in which we were planning to shoot some of the scenes. They are starting to tick off. By 15:00 we have finished the first five scenes and it is time for lunch. We are hungry and tired. Things actually for the moment don’t look too bad. Lunch was supposed to be from 14:30, so only 30 minutes behind schedule, right? Lunch had arrived at some point during the shoot and everything is ready for us. Jeff and I swallow our food and run around setting up for the next scene. The break, although really short has revived us and we have a second wind to carry on. There is always a lot to prepare.

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In the next scene Doron has to eat a samoosa and someone is telling a funny story about samoosas. There has been a lot of laughter on set. It is a good distraction from the chaos. Somewhere around 16:00 we get going again. and it is push, push, push. There are still eight scenes left to shoot and we need to finish. We won’t easily have access to the location again but things are ticking over. A lot of coffee is being consumed.

It is about 19:20 when we start with the final scene for the day, which also happens to be the climax scene of the film. Hooray! The end is in sight. We will finish after all. The climax scene is very intense, voices and emotions are raised. I feel sorry for the actors as they run through this scene over and over again. Jeff is trying to pull off a few different angles and some special lighting effects which means that we do what feels like a 100 takes. Finally we finish though and everyone is laughing and smiling. Doron’s girlfriend, Jane, arrives and tells us that she could hear him from a block away – oops.

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Everyone heads off and Jeff and I can breathe, now for packing up. It is again two car loads to get everything back home again. We eventually finish unpacking and collapse on the couch at home at 23:00. We survived our first shoot day! Tomorrow we do it all again….

We actually managed to complete shooting for the short film in the time that we had allocated. On August 15 we also had a full day, although it was a lot more relaxed. We also shot in the evenings of 17 and 18 August. We then had a nice break before we finished off with another chaotic day on 28 August on location at the Bible Institute of South Africa and our final shoot day on 29 August on location in Kalk Bay.

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There were a lot of ups and down during this time but it is a testament to God’s faithfulness and goodness that we managed to get everything done… and there are even some good looking shots among everything. If you are interested you can meet the cast at http://anarrowpathmovie.com/cast/

We would like to thank everyone that was involved in any capacity in the shooting of the film and all those who faithfully prayed for us. We arrived on Wednesday in Kenton-on -sea and the editing machine is rolling. I think we have finally arrived at the last leg of our journey…

A Narrow Path – Short :: BTS from Jeff Davies on Vimeo.

Cats and Casting

Jeff and I have been back in South Africa just over a month now and in some ways it feels like we never left. The heat and chaos of Cairo and Ramallah and the warm tropical waters of Sinai are starting to feel like a distant memory. Even more distant is the 1000’s of kilometers on the road through Africa. The women selling vetkoek from plastic containers they carry on their heads, chips fried next to the road and endless bicycles carrying everything from people and chickens to jerry cans and bread deliveries.

We have definitely entered into a new phase in our project. Things may be less exotic but it is no less challenging, stretching and fun. We arrived in South Africa still with a real desire to film the fictional short story that we want to incorporate in the documentary. Things didn’t work out to film it in Israel but we wanted to have another try in the familiar waters of Cape Town.




Our first month back has been spent organising meetings with any and everyone we could get to be interested, holding auditions, hounding potential actors and just generally putting ourselves out there. Jeff also had the opportunity to film a short promotional piece for the Sozo Foundation amidst the chaos, while I was able to get away for a week to visit my family in East London. The entire project has in many ways been stretching for both of us as neither of us are naturally “out there” personalities. But it is amazing to see what one is capable of and how God can fill the gaps when you are willing to take a shot at something you are not comfortable with.

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We stepped off the aeroplane with an ambitious eight week schedule to find and cast actors as well as to shoot the short film and on our third day back went and selected a kitten from the SPCA. It seemed crazy even to me, but our little fur ball, Habibi, has been so much fun. With a month already down, we are very pleased to say that we have tracked down a cast that we are very happy with and whose paper work Habibi loves attacking. We also know that shooting is going to take longer than planned due to coordinating more than 10 different schedules; but we are over-joyed to see things taking shape. After all, what is an extra week or two in the span of nearly two years?


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We are planning to complete the shooting of the short film in the month of August. We are incredibly excited and at the same time apprehensive to see how it turns out. There is obviously a lot of work still, between shooting, scouting and dressing locations, organising equipment and props and reworking the script. Hopefully by the end of August we will be done and then it will be on to Kenton-on-sea for the last leg of the journey, post production.

The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter slowly. We would again like to thank everyone who has supported us, followed us, prayed for us and helped us out in any way during this journey. It is greatly appreciated. Please continue to follow our progress and pray for us during this month of shooting as the film is not so far off now!

Finally Jeff will be preaching about fear and trust along our journey at The Bay Community Church in Muizenberg on Sunday 7 August. If you are interested please come through for the meeting, it starts at 9:30AM. We would love to see as many of you as possible.


Israel and Palestine

As the journey is beginning to end, I find myself looking back on the last 14 months often. Did we actually manage to cross Africa? Was it really as simple as it sometimes felt? How have I changed? Have I changed? What is life going to be like now?

We spent our last month in Israel volunteering in a guesthouse in Nazareth. It was fun and the owners are fantastic people but it was also hard work and often longer hours than we anticipated. Typically our days were filled with cleaning and preparing rooms for guests, helping with breakfast, packing and delivering ice, doing renovations around the guest house and updating online portals. We did have some time to ourselves as well though and whilst in Nazareth we managed to source the majority of the Middle Eastern props that we need for the fictional story. We also decided that we are going to attempt shooting some of the story by making use of green screen in order for the to look more authentic. We were able to find many suitable locations and shot the majority of the clean plates that we need. The remaining two clean plates we will attempt to shoot in Cairo next week.

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We left Nazareth on the 31st of May and headed to Jerusalem. I have family that live there. It has been absolutely fantastic spending time with them over the last few months so we decided to have a last few days together. We headed to Jerusalem on a Tuesday and deposited our luggage (which is now WAY too much and too heavy) at my cousins apartment and headed off to Ramallah for two nights. Whilst we were there we met up with our host from Jordan, who is visiting Israel / Palestine and he took us with to see the premiere of a Palestinian film and we were also able to visit Hebron, which is often the focal point of conflict between Israel and Palestine. It was a very interesting experience to see places that I often see in news broadcasts. On the Thursday we headed back to Jerusalem and had a very nice time with family until we left for Sinai on Sunday afternoon.

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We will be in Sinai until next week before we head to Cairo and fly back to South Africa after a few days on the 19th of June. Crossing from Israel to Sinai was our final land border crossing and while we were not expecting trouble one never knows when crossing in and out of Israel. We have heard so many stories of people having trouble getting into Israel and leaving Israel. In some cases people have been questioned for 2-6 hours when trying to leave to country. However, we have had no problems with the Israelis until now and our last crossing was no different. It took us approximately 10 minutes to leave Israel. We are convinced that we have a special Israeli angel that goes before us to the Israeli borders.

That being said Egypt was our nemesis in December and it seems that it may continue to be the case. Security is pretty tight in Sinai due to the current situation and our luggage was thoroughly searched when we crossed from Israel. The long and the short of the exercise was that Jeff’s quadcopter, which he had disassembled and was basically loose parts packed in ziploc bags, was destroyed by security. They broke the individual pieces by hammering them with a piece of metal plumbing.

Strangely I mostly found this amusing. When we left on the trip I knew the quadcopter could potentially be a problem and I thought I would be sad to see it destroyed as it is an expensive piece of equipment, but I wasn’t. I realised how less attached I have become to “things”. I always thought I managed to live lightly, not having too much stuff and not becoming tied down by excessive possessions, but on this trip I realised just how attached I still am to earthly possessions. It has been a journey for me to detach myself from stuff and be satisfied with God, knowing that he will provide my needs. I don’t need things. So sitting at the border watching the quadcopter being smashed I was secretly quite pleased with myself that it did not upset me. I wasn’t feeling stressed about the money, that it was an expensive thing being smashed for no real reason, I wasn’t angry, I didn’t feel wronged. I just accepted it and felt happy that the quadcopter was actually able to escape up until this point. It is actually a relief having the extra space in our over stuffed backpacks!

I can’t believe we are flying back to South Africa in less than 10 days time. It is a little bitter sweet. I have enjoyed this journey so much and learnt and grown so much, I’m not sure if I am ready to go back yet but it is also exciting to know that I will see family and friends. And of course there is still work to be done. We will hit the ground running in Cape Town, hopefully setting up meetings with actors and other potential partners who could be involved in the filming of the short story. We are hoping that we can complete the short in 6-8 weeks in Cape Town and then we can get down to the rest of the editing of the final film. Much of the footwork, scene plans, catalogs and transitions have already been done in the last few months so it will hopefully just be pulling it all together.

We would like to thank all our friends, family and supporters who have supported, prayed for and encouraged us over the last 14 months. We are so grateful for every person. Please continue to pray for us and follow our progress in the next few months as we strive to complete this project. If anyone wants more information or wants to chat, feel free to drop us an email.



One last horray  for the quadcopter:

naz-quad from Jeff Davies on Vimeo.

Scripts and Storyboards

I wrote a blog article last month but never got round to finishing it. But I thought everyone deserved an update. We’ve just shifted to a new season this past month which is really exciting. Our first season was pre-production when we were back in East London. Then, of course, we spent quite a while travelling and collecting content for this film. Our first 2 – 3 months in Israel was primarily filled with post-production tasks. Not so much editing, put there is a lot that goes into post besides editing, on a big project like this. Now we’re shifting focus onto shooting the scripted / fictional component of our film. Lastly we’ll complete post-production: editing, score, sound design, etc.

We’ve had a few great opportunities over the past two months. After trying several times, we managed to get to sit down and chat with Canon Andrew White. He’s very busy and quite spontaneous so it’s hard to schedule time with him. A great man, with an amazing story.


We also managed to organise an interview with a man by the name of Georges Housney. This was done remotely, with the help of Horizons International, as he is based in the US. We spent many hours over the past year listening to Georges’ sermons and he has greatly influenced our thoughts on reaching out to Muslims. The interview was really interesting and will be useful in the edit!


Other than that we have spent around 3 and half weeks in Jordan. This was supposed to be to spend time with Andrew Whites’ organisation working with Iraqi refugees in Jordan, however the timing didn’t work out in the end. However our time there was very useful nun-the-less. We spent our time in Amman (the capital of Jordan) working on our script and trying to make decisions regarding our fictional short for the film. We worked on a mood board and a new synopsis in order to submit the short as an entry to a film competition. For me, the city itself had an impact on our creative process and was a source of inspiration.

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Other than that we spent some time volunteering on a farm in Jordan. Volunteering is great for us as it keeps a roof over out head and food on our plates. I had a lot of time to work on my Arabic whiles on the farm. I think my vocabulary quadrupled whiles there. We shot some promotional content for our host as part of his submission for a grant, I built a dog house for the new puppy, we painted, helped out a little with the farming and Anneen spent some time building relationships with the Syrian refugees living next door to the farm.

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Just before we came back to Israel we spent a day exploring a wadi (gorge) which was fun. Very hot day, but in the shade of the gorge and with the water it was much more managable.

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So where does that leave us now?

Well our next focus is to get this fictional short shot. We have a script that’s 98% complete. We need to complete a storyboard and director’s notes. In a weeks time we’re moving to a volunteering project that is based in Nazareth. We’re trying to build relationships with a couple of churches there in order to find some potential actors and collaborators. This is our biggest need right now. Nazareth is ideal because it’s an Arab town and there is a big Christian community to pull from. We’re not sure exactly if this is going to work out so we’re also working on a plan B. Plan B would be to try and source our props and exterior shots from around Nazareth and rather shoot the short back in Cape Town.

Shooting the short in Cape Town will in some ways be more challenging but in other ways easier. It’s going to be more difficult to get the look we want but it’s going to be easier to find collaborators. So if you’re based in Cape Town, watch this space. We might be looking out for some actors and others willing to help out with locations, sound, carrying equipment, etc. I’m hoping that it will be fun for people involved whether that be in Nazareth or Cape Town.

A couple points of praise:

1) We got another 3 month visa for Israel with no questions asked. We hear so many people struggling with the Israel authorities in this regard and we’ve really experienced favour.

2) We’ve received some very generous donations over the past 2 weeks. Once again, God providing at just the right time.

3) The South African rand has strengthened a bit which means flights are looking cheaper than they were a couple of months ago.

4) We have free accommodation back in South Africa to complete our post production once we’re busy shooting our short.

Thanks for everyone that’s supporting our project or otherwise interested!

All the best,