The Telling Room (2019)
‘The Telling Room’ is a Zimbabwean feature-length fantasy adventure film made by MudBug members Duncan Frost (Director) and Kristi-lee Landrey (Producer). Following the truth-seeking journey of an unnamed protagonist that other characters refer to as ‘The Magician’ (Daniel Lasker), the story is dark, adventurous, action-packed and an ambitious feat by a group of passionate, low-budget film-makers.
The story is set in the fictional city ‘Stonelake’, in an undefined time period that feels like somewhere between 1950 and 1970. It is both a murder-mystery film and a buddy film, largely centred around a group of illegal settlers referred to as ‘The Occultists,’ who seem to be blamed for anything and everything that’s out of the ordinary, and for this reason, live in hiding.
The ‘Magician’ is a young man at the start of his career, and the center of the story. At the start, the Magician works at a newspaper company and is given the task of writing an article with the purpose of shedding light on the long-term murders and dissapearances in the city. Feeling that the research done for the article is dishonest, the Magician refuses to write the article, and finds himself catapulted onto a dangerous path of self-discovery, unveiling both the dark and disturbing truths that lie behind the Stonelake vanishings, as well as within himself.
Along his journey, The Magician meets June (Kelly Midlane), a struggling dancer with troubles and secrets of her own, Walter (Kevin Hanssen) – a wealthy theatre owner whom the Magician grows to admire and respect, Penny (Naledi Ncube) – a young, talented musician who’s trapped in a world of crime, and Kevin (Paul Conolly) a terribly frustrating motel manager, who grows to become the Magician’s greatest friend and Ally.
Other significant characters include ‘The Crimelord’ (Eddie Sandifolo), the two dedicated cops Carl & Jasper (Musa Saruro, Farai Chigudu), and Mr. Baggot – The Magician’s awful boss (Martin Bolt).
Despite it’s dark tones, the film is full of comedy, and is a heart-warming tale of love, bravery, and friendship.
The film was shot over 35 shooting days spread throughout 2017 and early 2018, and involved over 45 sets and/or locations. Visually, the film is incredibly ambitious for it’s micro-budget scale, including over 250 visual effects shots produced in-house by MudBug Films, and includes digital doubles of key characters, a giant model of Stonelake City, a detailed replica of Parks Manor (shot at Nesbitt Castle, Bulawayo), 2 chase sequences involving digital cars & helicopters, A digital Griffin creature, and sequences illustrating the magical abilities of the protagonist.
The film aims to be a refreshing change to the predictable and recycled ideas that make up Zimbabwe’s crippled film industry, as well as become a pioneer-film that lays the foundations for making much larger, VFX-laden movies in Zimbabwe by establishing a solid and sustainable work-flow for getting them made.
As the movie is still in production, the trailer is not yet ready. However, you can get a sneak peak from our first Teaser released in 2017: