The Desert River Movie
"If you lose your freedom, if you lose everything, lose your mind... Who will rescue your soul and save your life?"
The Desert River is my first feature film produced by November5Films, the creative enterprise I run with my family. Our previous film - Genes of Our Fathers - has won multiple awards and nominations on the International Film Festival circuit in 2017.
The Desert River is about a British Naval Officer who develops PTSD and substance misuse issues after serving in The Gulf. He loses everything but realises he functions better when he’s more active. In an attempt to sober up for good and win back his life he decides to walk from Casa Blanca to Cape Town along the Western African shipwreck trail. Here he comes across the wrecks of other captains and meets an ancient African Desert tribe who lead him to a special place of healing: The Desert River.
The film is an exploration of the effects of trauma, a subject which is close to my heart.
As a psychiatrist, I've come to realise that many of the mental illnesses that we treat have their genesis in traumatic life events. As a human being, I have not been immune to this. I've lost three immediate family members in traumatic circumstances, and I have suffered with PTSD myself.
My first love is music and I dreamt a song called 'The River' a year ago which sparked the idea for this film. I ended up writing the entire script and the soundtrack to this film in parallel, while living in Portsmouth this past year.
The film is being shot on location in Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight, Morocco, Namibia’s Skeleton Coast and South Africa. The first scenes were shot in Morroco and during the summer we have filmed all of the scenes taking place in Portsmouth.
You can keep up with our progress here: http://www.risenovember5.com/the-desert-river/
"I'm tired of being afraid of people. I'm going to start walking. And I won't stop until the demons go away..."
So How Can You Help?
At present the film is about £5,000 away from completion - around 70% of the film is now 'in the can', however there are still some key scenes to shoot involving actors and action across two continents.
I am hoping to complete the filming before the end of 2017, and so the sooner funds can be secured and I can confirm actors (and their flights and accommodation etc) the better.
Anyone who donates to this campaign, at any level, will be given digital copies of both the completed movie of The Desert River, and also Genes of Our Fathers (my first film with November5Films http://www.risenovember5.com/latest-news/ )
Please watch our trailer here:
The Desert River has been and is a deeply personal journey for me, and I am humbled by and grateful for everyone who has joined me on it.
We are thrilled to our Desert River boots to announce celebrated South African TV presenter and actor Denvor Phokaners will be playing Muruti – the leader of the Desert River monks and one of the key roles on our film.
Watch Denvor in action as Muruti in a teaser from Desert River: https://vimeo.com/239250196
Denvor is the presenter of the SABC 2 SAFTA Award winning lifestyle and travelogue programme “Mooiloop!” (for which he has received a SAFTA nomination), and is the host of the DSTV Food Network’s reality cooking competition “Chopped SA” which is televised in over 90 countries around the world.
Throughout his extensive creative career, Denvor has starred in a number of musicals and TV shows, written and performed chart-topping songs, hosted key corporate and media events. His TV credits include 7de Laan, Rhythm City, and Generation; and he starred in the movie Die Sangoma Sindroom.
In 2010 Denvor co-wrote a chart-topping song, “Time Bomb” which went to No. 3 on Algoa FM, and No. 4 on the OFM Captain Dorego Top 40 music chart in South Africa. We hope to include the song in the film.
You can listen to Time Bomb here: https://soundcloud.com/denvorp…/timebomb-tick-tock-superneon
To find out more about Denvor and his award winning work look here: http://www.talent-etc.co.za/index.…/male-35/denvor-phokaners
Please can all of us on the Desert River team ask you to dig deep one more time and get us to our funding target?
Here's what we've been doing over the six weeks since the campaign opened... and where your amazing donations have gone so far:
Sean George has joined the team as a director! You can read more about Sean on his website here: http://www.seanfrancisgeorge.com
Sean has enjoyed huge success in film acting (check out that cv - yes you do recognise his face!), and is now starting to direct his own work. We are thrilled he's joined the team. He has an amazing eye and really knows how to bring the best out of the actors.
Denvor Phokaners and Usifu Jalloh have joined us from South Africa and Sierra Leone respectively. They are both hugely successful and respected performers, and getting them involved in The Desert River is an absolute blessing. They both have regular TV audiences into the millions in Africa, and both have dedicated followings in the UK and Europe. They are bringing the star power for sure!
Both Denvor and Usifu are multi-talented artists - actors, writers, musicians - and are helping Braam to shape the final act of the film. We don't want to give too many spoilers - for BTS and teasers you can follow us on:
As we're going to be releasing little snippets and film photography, along with interviews and movie FAQ there.
BUT! To get a flavour of what these great men are bringing to the film, read more about them on their websites
All of the Monks of The Desert River are now cast! Alongside Denvor (playing Muruti) and Usifu (playing Usifu), we have three bright new stars joining us:
Ismail B Kamara is playing Hope
Melvin LeBlanc is playing Endurance
Nyke Jackson is playing John.
It's the first movie role for the three and we have been absolutely blown away by their dedication, focus and sheer talent. They are clearly headed for great things, and again we're just feeling so blessed that they've joined us for this journey...
We've had a week of filming on the Isle of Wight, along an absolutely beautiful stretch of tidal estuary. You can see some of the gorgeous locations in the background of the photos attached. There's lots more coming onto social media over the coming weeks as we start to get things edited (did we mention to follow us?!) - but the initial viewings are looking great!
Which brings us on neatly into what we still need and where the final £2k will be going...
We need to complete the filming of Act 3. There are some scenes left to shoot along the West Coast of Africa; in Northern Ireland and the South Coast of the UK (Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight). We want to pay everyone above a fair (at least minimum) wage. We need to secure permits for locations. We need to hire vehicles and accommodation.
We also want to be able to start the post-production phase for everything we've already shot and start the process of editing. The sooner this begins the sooner the final film will be released and available for everyone to enjoy.
Please can you help? Every £1 makes a difference and every donation will get you a copy of the film :)
Thank you all so much again for helping to make this dream a reality. Really can't wait to share the final film with you!
We're delighted to be at nearly 60% of our target for completing The Desert River movie, and we are growing our core team to get the film completed. Today I'm thrilled to be able to introduce you to Usifu Jalloh - who you may know better as the Cowfoot Prince - an extraordinary Griot (traditional West African storyteller/poet/musician) and actor from Sierra Leone.
Usifu regularly has TV audiences of around 2million in his native Sierra Leone and performs to thousands live in the UK and around the world. You can find out more about him, and where you can next see him perform on his website https://www.usifujalloh.com and I've embedded him telling a story in the beautiful forest of Tiwai into this post.
He has recently set up StorieStorie and will be launching 'The Rapper and The Griot' in October https://www.storiestorie.com
Usifu will be bringing his storytelling skills to The Desert River, and we are all super-excited to welcome him to the team and to get pointing cameras at him and watch him shine!
Thank you again - please keep spreading the word about The Desert River, please donate whatever you can (even £1 and we'll gift you the final feature film in thanks!), and please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
Denvor is a SAFTA nominated TV presenter of the SABC 2 SAFTA Award winning lifestyle and travelogue programme “Mooiloop!” for 4 seasons (91 episodes), and the host of the DSTV Food Network’s reality cooking competition, “Chopped SA” which is televised in over 90 countries around the world. He also acted in SA sitcoms such as 7de Laan, Generations and Rhythm City. Throughout his extensive creative career, Denvor has starred in a number of musicals and TV shows, written and performed chart-topping songs, hosted key corporate and media events as a Master of Ceremonies, and recorded FW De Klerk’s 70th Birthday party as the former President’s private Videographer.
As a songwriter he wrote a chart-topping song, “Time Bomb”, The international movie “The Lion of Judah” soundtrack song, “I don’t care if it rains” and the current radio play-listed song “Time”.