White by Night

June, 1986. Township princess and would-be singer Patience must step in for her mother as domestic worker at her mother's employers' house. But all is not as it seems in the mansion, where so many of her predecessors have given their lives to the house...

  • Elan Gamaker
  • Elan Gamaker
  • Thishiwe Ziqubu
    Key Cast
  • Nandi Nyembe
    Key Cast
  • Clayton Evertson
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Horror Mystery
  • Runtime:
    15 minutes 31 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 31, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    60,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    South Africa
  • Country of Filming:
    South Africa
  • Language:
    Afrikaans, English, Xhosa, Zulu
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Elan Gamaker

Elan Gamaker is a screenwriter, director and story editor.

He is also Senior Lecturer in Film (Screenwriting), and Course Leader in BA Filmmaking in the Kingston School of Art at Kingston University, London.

He is founding director of London-based screenwriting feeder scheme Dissolve Into:.

He has been a working professional screenwriter and director since 2001, having completed two produced feature-length screenplays and features, episodes for various television drama series, several shorts, and a number of commissioned scripts.

Elan also completed a PhD in Film Studies following a fellowship with the University of Amsterdam's School of Cultural Analysis, with the focus of his research on genre, rhetorical style and audience activation.

He has also worked as a story consultant and has been hired by public and private film bodies in the capacity of story editor, or as a reader in film funding applications

As a writer, he has worked under and alongside internationally renowned script writers and tutors such as Hettie Macdonald (Royal Court Theatre, UK), Mark Travis, Judith Weston, David Howard and Martin Daniel (Hollywood), Ken Dancyger (Canada), Arne Bro (Denmark), Gyula Gazdag (UCLA), Franz Rodenkirchen (Torino FilmLab), Jacques Akchoti (La Femis), as well as UK script consultants and tutors Christian Routh, Ian Sellar, Samm Haillay, Angeli Macfarlane and Ellis Freeman.

His scripts have been selected for several international script programmes and markets, including Miramax Scrawl Screenwriters’ Lab, IFP (New York), Berlinale Co-Production Market (Berlin), IFFR Cinemart (Rotterdam) and Produire au Sud (Nantes).

Elan is a two-time attendee of Amsterdam-based Binger Filmlab, first in 2004 with Victor Chicken (2005 Berlinale Co-Production Market and 2006 Talent Campus) as a participant in the organisation’s Writer’s Lab, and then in 2009 for the Directors’ Lab. The following year, he marked his feature writing/directing debut with Visa/Vie (2010), which played in cinemas and on African satellite TV in 2011. It won a SAFTA Golden Horn for Best Music in a Motion Picture and is currently on DVD release. Other writing/direction work includes Dirt, a one-hour comedy/drama for Multichoice.

Works enjoying award recognition include Next Year in Jerusalem, shortlisted for the 2007 BBC International Playwriting Award, his play Jutro winning Best New theatre production for 2007 and his novel, Wayward Nature, being shortlisted for the EU Literary Award 2009. His short script Hidden Life was nominated for Best Short Screenplay (AMA 2011).

Elan has also worked as consultant on large-scale documentary and fiction projects, including those by Cinema Suitcase, with titles including A Long History of Madness, a part of The Mère Folle Project, and Madame B.

His second feature film, the independent project IJspaard (Icehorse) (2014), was the first ever fully improvised feature in the Netherlands. It debuted at the Durban International Film Festival before touring other international festivals.

His upcoming writing/directing projects are Headland, a dystopian romance selected for DFM and Produire au Sud (Nantes) in 2016, the Film London-supported magic realist road movie Violet Culbo, coming-of-age drama The Imperial, and White by Night, a supernatural political thriller set in 1980s South Africa.

White by Night, produced by Bump Films, is currently in financing. It was selected for Independent Film Week of the Independent Filmmaker Project producers’ forum in New York. South African actress Thishiwe Ziqubu (While You Weren’t Looking, Hard to Get) and Austrian actress Susanne Wuest (Perfume, Goodnight Mommy) are cast, and the film is slated for production in Cape Town.

Elan was also story consultant and film editor of Thieves, part of Michelle Williams Gamaker's exhibition Our Mountains Are Painted On Glass, at South London Gallery, March-June 2023.

Elan also consults for Stop Play Record, a writing scheme for young filmmakers organised by Space Studios London, and is associate editor of peer-reviewed screen media practice research journal Screenworks.

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Director Statement

Growing up in 1980s South Africa, a period of social upheaval and violence, I lived in my grandparents’ large, dilapidated home.
The house was gothic and creepy, with creaky wood panelling, platoons of rodents in the roof and nightly noises that kept me frozen and sleepless in bed.
But years later I would come to realise that the real fear was one handed down. From apartheid to military service to the threat of terrorism, all South Africans were trained in fear. Fear – even as paranoia – was the state’s weapon against those it oppressed but also against those for whom it fought.
My vision is to make a film that expresses this fear, an elevated genre piece about how the ghosts of a country’s violent past do not simply disappear.