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Legacy to a brother
03 Jan 2012
Estelle Sinkins

PIETERMARITZBURG writer Janet van Eeden has launched a campaign to help fund a new project which is close to her heart — making a film inspired by her brother Jimmy, who died after being on the border for only three days. The circumstances around his death are unclear and so, for the purposes of the film, she has written a fictionalised ending.

Van Eeden, who also wrote the script for the film, White Lion, has taken nine years to write the poignant story of her brother’s experience and is now ready to put A Shot at the Big Time on the big screen.

“I’ve launched a crowd-sourcing campaign on IndieGoGo.com to raise production funds for this film after the conventional fund-raising platforms didn’t help me,” she said.

“This film is timeless, a film about the young men who gave up their lives to fight in a war they had no desire to fight. Every white boy in South Africa in the seventies, eighties and early nineties was conscripted into military service. After­ three months of brutal basics they were spat out onto the border to kill their so-called enemy.”

A Shot at the Big Time traces the life of her brother and one of his black friends who just wanted to play music.

“They had no interest in waging war against each other they just wanted to be rock stars,” she says. “Then Jimmy received his call-up papers. Forced into the brutal regime of the military, with a sergeant who had it in for him, and after a fatal accident, he had a mental breakdown.

“He was removed from service and placed in a mental home to recover, [and] just as he started to find his feet, the army drafted him again and sent him into armed combat on the Angolan border. His broken heart couldn’t do this.”

A number of songs have already been written for the movie by Jonathan Handley of the Radio Rats, who was moved to make the offer after reading the script. Those songs can be heard on the IndieGoGo­ website.

But Van Eeden admits that for the project to go any further, more money and help is needed. “We’re not asking for money for nothing. Even $10 will get you a co-producer’s credit and $100 gets you a copy of the novel, Width of a Thread, which is based on the screenplay, and a Radio Rats CD,” she said.

“A donation of $1 000 gets you all of the above, plus a chance to appear in the film in a crowd scene as well as to send in your auditions for the roles. The main roles will be auditioned online.”

Van Eeden said that not all the support was financial. She has received help in kind from Justin Webber at Paul Dwyer’s graphic design company which is working on the poster in Australia, from communications consultant Sharlene Versfeld who is helping with public relations and from award-winning director Don van Orr, who is shooting a new promo piece for the film campaign.

“I can’t believe what good people there are around. We’re going to make a great movie,” Van Eeden added.

• If you would like to get involved go to www.indiegogo.com/A-Shot-at-the-Big-Time?a=206977

• Catch Janet van Eeden’s White Lion on Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 107) tonight at 8 pm.

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