A psychiatrist has begun to produce a feature length film that follows a Royal Navy officer’s battle with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Dr Braam Ackermann, a South African working in Portsmouth, is producing and starring in independent film The Desert River, which is being filmed on location in Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight, Morocco and South Africa.
The story follows Commander John Davids, played by Dr Ackermann himself, through his struggles with PTSD and substance misuse after being kidnapped while serving in The Gulf.
The feature film marks a return to a childhood passion for Dr Ackermann, who was a child actor whilst growing up in Cape Town.
He said: ‘At the end of my high school career I had the choice of studying medicine or drama. I followed my head and studied medicine. I’ve always kept in touch with my creative side.
‘My father was a working actor in Cape Town and had served in the South African Navy as a young man.
‘He had always wanted to make films himself and I am now partly fulfilling his dream.’
The feature length film is being shot entirely using an iPhone 7, which Dr Ackermann says helps him to focus on his other strengths, which include producing the entire soundtrack to the film.
He said: ‘The iPhone 7 shoots 4K, and its got sensors that can help you film in low light. You can add lenses to it which makes it easier for people like me to make these films. Using an iPhone7 with lenses means I’ve been able to focus on thing I’m better at.’
Dr Ackermann suffered with PTSD as a child after he fell off of a cliff.
But he said he has not found the production process challenging.
He said: ‘I haven’t found it challenging at all. I’m the kind of person who once I have a plan in my head I start to execute it without really thinking.
‘I play to my strengths.’
The Portsmouth psychiatrist aims to have The Desert River completed by May 2018, in time for the European film festival season.
Dr Ackermann has also recently launched a GoFundMe page to finance the last part of the project, which features a trailer of the film.
Go to gofundme.com/thedesertriver.