South African No-Crew Feature Film Completed in Lockdown

Principal photography has wrapped on Cabin Fever, a South African feature film created under lockdown conditions, and post-production in well underway.

The world’s first feature film to be created under lockdown conditions, Cabin Fever had no crew and used no specialist movie equipment. Filmed by the cast using only phones and laptops, the script was written in installments as a series of video calls, messages and meetings, and was tailored to the locations and the props available

Quite possibly the cheapest feature film ever made, with a budget of nothing at all, Cabin Fever was possible thanks to the astonishing wealth of tools and applications available online.

The film tells the story of a second wife and stepmother, locked down alone in Cape Town and struggling to keep her far-flung family together, when she learns that her husband’s first wife is dying of Covid-19.

In March 2020, South African filmmaker Tim Greene (Boy Called Twist, Skeem) put out a call on social media for actors to join him in a unique challenge: to create and shoot a feature film without using any crew or any specialist movie equipment. Hundreds of actors responded, eleven were cast, and the script was written specifically for them, tailored to the locations and props available in lockdown.

Over a month of shooting, the actors and director remained in close contact over WhatsApp, where scripted scenes were posted, read and discussed and revised. Group rehearsals took place on Zoom, after which actors would film their scenes individually on their cell phones, using WeTransfer to send the hi-rez footage to Greene, who would cut them together and post them online for cast to review.

“It was a unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.” says the director, “After rehearsals, I’d wait for the files and open them like a kid at Christmas, and start to cut together these awesome, emotional, and often riveting performances, sometimes featuring extremely sophisticated camera work, all achieved while they were in character!”

The film is currently in postproduction and will premiere around the world in the coming months. The filmmakers are currently in negotiation to find a home for the film on a streaming platform.



Cabin Fever tells the story of Sarah Clayburn (Jenna Upton), a successful commercial artist living under lockdown, alone at the family home in Cape Town, and trying to hold together a dysfunctional and fragmented family, scattered across the globe.

Set a year into the future, during ‘the second lockdown’, her husband Andrew (James Cuningham) is trapped in Abu Dhabi and going slowly out of his mind, while his three adult children struggle to cope with isolation in Australia, Wales and South Africa.

When Sarah learns that their mother, Andrew’s first wife Deborah (Michelle Scott) is dying of the Corona virus, she organizes an family gathering online to attempt a reconciliation between the kids and their mother, who abandoned them to join a religious order when they were very young.

Told through a succession of video calls, meetings and messages, Cabin Fever is a haunting and emotional story of a family flung to the far corners of the globe, reaching out across the void to find intimacy, understanding and eventually forgiveness.