Tim Greene, director of Boy Called Twist did more than put his hand out. Strapped for cash to begin this film, Greene stood at traffic lights in
Johannesburg and Cape Town at the beginning of 2003 with a placard reading, "Hi my name is Tim, I am an independent film maker. I have written this film called 'Boy Called Twist' and I am looking for 1000 investors with R1 000 to spare. Please help!" By the end of May 2003, he had his investors. The Spier Arts Trust invested a significant amount and then more recently a grant was received from ACT so the project could begin with the R1.25 million collected.
The film employed a crew of 60 and a cast of 40 in a shooting period of 21 days including preparation and wrap. The 26 street children that appeared in the movie were on the set for six days and Greene believes that they gained invaluable knowledge and experience and are now in a stronger position to be selected for the Linzi Thomas programme to get kids off the streets and into the film industry.
BOY CALLED TWIST is the story of a Cape Town street kid, based on Charles Dickens' classic novel Oliver Twist, brought to the screen by Monkey Films and Twisted Pictures.
Simultaneously brutal and compassionate, the film tells the harrowing tale of a child's search for love, for family, for a place to call home.
Full of local sound and colour, this fresh take on a much-loved classic, takes the audience on a roller-coaster ride from the barren wastes of the West Coast through the underbelly of the Cape to the warmth of the tight-knit Bo-Kaap community, and promises to leave you asking for more.
In this film 'Oliver' is represented as 'Twist', and is a Muslim boy who is
brought up in a Swartland orphanage after his mother died giving birth to him. Twist is taken and put to work in the vineyards of the Western Cape, but escapes to Cape Town, where he lives as a street child. He befriends a gang of thieves run by Fagin who is described by Greene as a foreign West African guy.
Issues such as child abuse, xenophobia and racism are intricately covered in the film.
The basic plot follows the lines of the original Oliver Twist, but in Boy Called Twist, it is set in the context of the life of street children in South Africa.
Boy Called Twist is a groundbreaking innovation in South African film finance.
In 2002 director Tim Greene put out a call that he was looking for 1000 investors who could each risk R1000.00. Spreading the risk across a broad community of like-minded people, he was able to break the deadlock of risk-aversion that holds the SA film industry captive.
Twisted Pictures (Ltd.) was formed to offer maximum investor security, and pledges poured in. By August 2003 a million rands had been secured. The Arts and Culture Trust contributed a grant and Spier Arts Trust invested in the project.
Principal photography lasted 21 days and was completed on schedule and within budget.
The offline edit of the film was screened for the National Film and Video Foundation (SA) in 2004 and on the basis of the screening, a further R1,000.000.00 was committed to the film's completion. The final finance required was invested by Graham Beck Wines.
This means that the Boy Called Twist can now claim the rare distinction of being a completely South African financed film.
35 year-old Tim Greene is a freelance independent film maker. His short films Corner Caffie, and Kap 'an, Driver have been widely acclaimed for the grit, honesty and lightness of touch with which they portray Cape Town and its people.
Most recently he has directed episodes of the popular SABC 2 cop drama Zero Tolerance for Ochre Media. In 2002 he directed Tsha Tsha, the ground-breaking SABC 1 drama series about sex, love & ballroom dancing.
He learned the film basics at John Hill's Young Filmmakers Workshop after school from 1983 until 1988. At university he received a Performers Diploma from UCT Drama School.
He started his film career as a runner, clambering his way up as a props assistant, then casting director, and eventually as a production manager, servicing foreign commercials.
He started directing in 1994 with his acclaimed short Corner Caffie, followed by numerous commercials and music videos for bands including The Honeymoon Suites and Just Jinger.
His second feature Luddite - 3rd world cyber-fi from the Ghetto's Edge - is currently in development, principal photography slated for 2006.
Monkey Films was started in 2000 by Aurelia Driver and Clare van Zyl.
Aurelia and Clare have produced commercials, documentaries, features and drama series throughout the Southern African region.
From the outset Monkey Films' objective was to work on both local and international projects. The aim was to build an infrastructure for the production of South African narrative and documentary projects while maintaining strong ties with international filmmakers.