A hypochondriac ex-ping pong player now lives a hermetic existence with his parrot Norman.

Not everyone gets a chance to receive a Skype call from Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti. But this is exactly what happened to Hanneke Schutte a few months ago.

Hi Hanneke, you’re our South African winner of the Jameson First Shot competition and next week you’ll be flying to Los Angeles to come and make your short film with Willem Dafoe

– Kevin Spacey & Dana Brunetti

Pretty much any aspiring young filmmaker’s dream phone call! So Hannake headed off to Los Angeles and had to meet Willem Dafoe for a wardrobe fitting directly after a 26 hour travel, without even having any time for a shower. We can just imagine what was going through her mind!

But despite all the pressure and butterflies of having to produce a film with such big names, and even contemplating to sneak out of the country the night before the shoot, Hanneke went ahead and showed up on the set.

I woke up at 3am and yes, I’m not ashamed to say, I contemplated taking my passport, tiptoeing through the lobby and catching the first flight back to South Africa. It was either that or fake a dramatic case of Sudden Blindness or Alien Hand Syndrome (yes there is such a thing). But in the end I did it. I got up, I brushed my teeth (I had a nightmare the previous night where I’d forgotten to brush my teeth and I had to direct Willem holding my hand over my mouth) and I went to set.

Excerpt from Film Courage article on Hanneke

Not only did she show up, but she directed a brilliant film about an hypochondriac ex-ping pong player and his narcoleptic parrot Norman. Lionel (Willem Dafoe) missed the most important tournament of his career because of a cold. Now years later he lives a hermetic existence with this narcoleptic parrot Norman. He contacts Belinda (Nikki de Loach) a pet psychic/behaviorist to help with Norman, but she soon realizes that Lionel is, in fact, the one that needs help.

To no surprise, with such a high level team, the ambiance, decor and feel matched Hanneke’s charismatic and fluent script empowered by a believable Lionel. A lovely story that keeps people engaged and leaves you wondering until after the credits have rolled.

No matter who you are or where you’re from you just have to trust that you can do it and, in my case, stop googling ‘sudden onset diseases’ when you’re afraid you can’t.

Excerpt from Film Courage article on Hanneke