Flies – Michael MacGarry

Flies – Michael MacGarry

We sound designed and mixed this beautiful work of art, from the ground up. In order to capture the isolated feeling the environment needed, we decided to start by designing a custom city sound, and from there we designed every step, creak, smash and movement. This was a meticulous process. We even physically created the sounds in the final, violent attack scene (our assistant’s shirt ended up ripped, and his face red from slapping himself!)

Michael MacGarry’s film, Flies, is a devastating story set in Pretoria in 1995 and centred on an ageing Afrikaans architect and retired civil servant who clings onto the derelict building he designed, its only occupant.

When he accidentally witnesses an assassination, he is forced into a violent confrontation with the new political milieu. The building is the real-life Schubart Park, from which 600 families were evicted after it was deemed uninhabitable in 2011. It is currently being renovated into a complex of low- and middle-income flats.

The story MacGarry wrote is entirely fictional. He was able to film at the building just weeks before construction began. “Schubart Park has a complicated and quite troubled history and is to my knowledge the largest single apartment complex in the International Style in South Africa,” he tells us.

It was designed for lower-income white government and municipal employees in the 1970s and promoted as a model for living, shopping and recreation, he notes. “Post-1994 the complex was basically abandoned by the Pretoria municipality and over time became a hotspot for crime, drugs and illegal activity,” MacGarry says. This came to a head when eight people were killed in a police raid to evict the tenants.

“Since then it has stood totally empty. So it has a lot of history and with the story I wrote for the location I basically wanted to capture a fictional micro-narrative from 1995 that looked at all of this baggage and perhaps the recent history of the country in a broader sense too.”

The film made the official selection of the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2015, the Durban International Film Festival 2015 and the B3 Biennial of the Moving Image, Frankfurt 2015.