“Wolwedans in die Skemer” Feature Film

poster whiteIn July 2011 I “won” the pitch to direct a text written by Leon van Nierop. The title; “Wolwedans in die Skemer”. It was a 110 page feature script based on the roughly 1000 episodes of a radio drama with the same title from 1979. The radio drama was extremely popular between 1979 and 1983 and garnered a loyal following of about a million South Africans.

I was interested to bring an element of Noir cinema into the film considering the police detective character and the femme fatal archetype both playing key roles in the unfolding of the plot. The film also has a strong horror and suspense elements that I treated quite classically. Classic in that I looked at  cinema from 1930 – 1970 to inform my techniques in suspense as well as the representation of horror. The world is timeless, ageless and unidentifiable. In many ways this story is a fable, a fairytale of good intentions gone wrong.

“Shrouded in a veil of mystery, Sonja Daneel arrives at the luxurious Hotel Njala, which belongs to the Joubert family, to start as the establishment’s new receptionist. However, following a freak car accident, Sonja can’t remember who she is, where she comes from or why she chose to accept a position at this hotel. With the help of the cynical lieutenant Conrad Nolte, Sonja hesitantly sweeps aside the veil of her forgotten memories and begins to uncover disturbing details about Hotel Njala and the Jouberts. A series of murders shocks all involved with the Hotel to the core. Sonja Daneel realises – only by confronting her true identity can she save her life and put the ghost that has haunted her past to rest.”

This was my the first time to direct. What a learning curve to say the least.


While directing Wolwedans I had Alex (Herbie) Keiner from youmeok with a 7d and a lot of passion along for the ride. He just went crazy and made two beautiful behind the scenes videos for Wolwedans.

Fun fact, “The Herbie” is a cocktail named after him. Its very popular in spring and summer, a german twist on the Gin and tonic.

The Herbie

  • 2pts Gin
  • Tonic
  • Lavender

Werner Grobelaar also worked tirelessly on the behind the scenes and created, amongst other things, this TUMBLR


Screen Shot 2012-02-28 at 4.43.36 PM

When it came to the grade for Wolwedans I had the absolute pleasure to work with Jenine Lindeque. We studied together at film school where she majored in cinematography and later editing. She started to work as an editor but found her keen eye most suited to grading.

We shot Wolwedans on the Sony F3 and shot as much in camera as possible. I wanted the world to be desaturated and with contrast. Our colour palate was brought down to a 3 primary colours plus black and white. When cutting to flashbacks I added Red into the palate.

This sparse colour design really worked for me in defining the world in which the story happens.

Now over to Jenine who took great care in every frame. I specifically like her skin tone choice and the clarity in each frame. The grading together with the cinematography and art direction is for me where Wolwedans really stands out within the South African Cinema context.

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