When quarantined in hospital for six months with tuberculosis, what else is there to do but rap about your experience?
Christiaan Van Vuuren, aka 'The Fully Sick Rapper' became an internet sensation last year after he began uploading videos to Youtube about his time in isolation. His very first video, Life in Quarantine, has more than 972,000 views.
Not only did his videos earn him scores of online admirers, it also provided the inspiration for a story that won Van Vuuren and his brother Conor the 2011 Optus One80 Project. Based on their 2 minute and 38 second long pilot Sick, the brothers were given a $180,000 production budget to produce a one-hour television program for MTV.
"Luckily Conor had been through film school and is a great writer," says Van Vuuren. "He saw the opportunity of writing some stories about that [the hospital stay], and we started creating some things together, and that led us to entering the competition."
The pilot follows the adventures of two brothers – one who is stuck in hospital – in both the real world and an alternative world.
Despite being initially awed at the budget they had to play with, the pair were shocked at how difficult it was to spread the money across the production – particularly with a story that involves lightsabers and a Lord of the Rings-esque fantasy land.
Filming – which was done on cameras including the ARRI Alexa and the Canon 5D – wrapped recently, and the pilot is currently in post – with the final delivery scheduled for January.
The hour-long program will air on MTV in March 2012, with the possibility of being picked up as a series. (2009 Optus One80 winner Dungoona is currently in development as a series for Foxtel.)
"It's nice to have a platform for an idea that's not a cop show," says Van Vuuren. "It's not a gangster film, it's completely different."
The Optus One80 Project gives filmmakers the opportunity to compete for a $180,000 production budget by creating a 180 second pilot for a television series. This year's competition includes a mobile category, which offers a $5000 cash prize for the best pilot filmed on a mobile phone. Entries open October 15.
The Van Vuuren brothers: Christiaan and Conor