Lo-Def Film Factory: Open Time

Lo-Def Film Factory

Many TV-watching South Africans remember the glorious hour each evening between 6 and p.m. when regular SABC programming would give way to M-NET’s Open Time – a channel one would otherwise have to pay for. Lo-Def Film Factory’s Open Time project was developed to create a framework for a group of young creatives across Cape Town to experiment with low-budget, lo-fi filmmaking from within their homes and communities. When in-person Digital Storytelling workshops were interrupted by the pandemic, mentorship and collaboration took place entirely over WhatsApp during lockdown. The filmmakers were equipped with basic filmmaking tools, resources, green screens and props to enable them to play with performing, directing, beat-making, voice-over, stop-motion animation and editing. This project is an eclectic collection of videos to amuse and confound. Filmed entirely on phones, the work recreates the experience of channel-hopping, spanning the bizarre, the surreal and the chaotic – providing some much-needed ‘open time’ from the grief, fear and panic of the current moment.

Click on your favourite channel below to watch 

Presented as part of the Creativate Digital Arts Festival


Peacemore Patsika

Peacemore Patsika is an editing whizz, film and beat-maker based in Delft. In these workshops, he has been developing his editing skills, experimenting with performance, voice-over and creating soundtracks.

Victor Jakara

Victor Jakara is a budding actor, filmmaker and animator. The workshops saw him creating stop-motion animation from his drawings, for which he also performed voice-overs.

Gomez Bakwene

Gomez Bakwene is a highly experimental young filmmaker from Mitchell’s Plain. His recent work has explored writing and performing in the science fiction genre.

Paulina Bisala

Paulina Bisala is a performer based in Gugulethu. She loves being in front of the camera and has a way with words.

Lionel Zolo

Lionel Zolo from Belville is interested in presenting and performing. His work takes the form of journalistic interviews which blur the line between fiction and reality.

Nathan Nkwamga

Nathan Nkwamga has been creating films from his home at the Launchpad, a youth transition care residence in Zonnebloem. He enjoys performing and collaborated with a fellow Launchpad rapper on a music video.

Jeremiah Ndala

Jeremiah Ndala, also known as Tsetsefly Moskito is a comedian and performer. The workshops saw him experimenting with greenscreen to bring his comedic characters to life.

Stembiso Sibanda

Stembiso Sibanda, 15, is ‘obsessed with school’! Her interests include singing, dancing, performing, music and reading. Her films for this workshop have explored her love for movement and poetry.

Milene Verwey

Milene Verwey is 14 years old. She is interested in design and creating costumes/characters and has been experimenting with creating animations from her drawings.

Zia Francis

Zia Francis, 14, She is interested in filmmaking and editing, as well as dancing and music-making. The workshop saw her experimenting with filmmaking techniques in and around her home in Muizenberg.

Halo Verwey

Halo Verwey, 12, is a social butterfly whose talents span music, singing, dancing, performing, karate and gymnastics.

Quincy Vearey

Quincy Vearey is an avid rock-climber who participated in the world championships in rock climbing in Moscow, placing 50th in his age category for the fastest speed climber in the world. He enjoys performing and scriptwriting.

Lisa Makumese

Lisa Makumese is a seeker and a questioner: she is curious and enjoys learning new things and feeling empowered by knowledge.

Nandi Tavares Calburn

Nandi Tavares Calburn, 15, is a performer and music-lover who dislikes summer. She enjoys creating things and styling clothing.


Collaborative filmmaking unsettles, challenges and, ultimately, seeks to change universal perspectives. It does so by refusing to gaze at an ‘other’s’ lived reality with curiosity, detachment, professionalism, and neutrality instead, it aims to interrupt a monolithic gaze with the views of the participants themselves – Susan Sontag, 1997.

The Lo-Def Film Factory is a participatory community cinema initiative created by artist Francois Knoetze and performer/writer Amy Louise Wilson. Employing an experimental cinema praxis that emphasises co-creation and embraces mistake-making, the collective aims to create a space for storytelling through the democratisation of the filmmaking process.

The collective was formed in 2019, when it first took the form of a mobile DIY pop-up film studio which was open to incidental creators who encountered the booth in the inner city or outskirts of Bloemfontein. Each evening, the booth transformed into a cinema which screened the day’s rough footage. This practice evolved into longer-term experimental filmmaking workshops at the Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education with young creatives from the Adonis Musati Project. Members of Observatory’s OY! Theatre Group – a collective for young performers – joined the Whatsapp workshops during lockdown.

The initiative places value on the transmission of ideas and lived experience over high production value – viewing collectively-minded cinema as a radical and subversive practice which confronts politics of access.