Hillside is on lockdown by the evil Haven Community.
The 7de Laaners are in a state of panic this fortnight with residents being held hostage by armed soldiers who’re threatening to blow them up if they try to escape. Think they’re bluffing? A grenade rings through the sleepy suburb, almost killing two of the residents . There is one person who could defuse the situation though and come to her friends’ rescue: the perennially cheery, god-fearing Hilda (Annelisa Weiland). Is she willing to co- operate with their captors. And at what cost?
The Haven’s cult leader Francois (Chris van Niekerk) – who lived in Hillside years ago – has the Laaners exactly where he wants them. His soldiers locked up everyone on Thursday 1 November, splitting them into groups at key buildings in Hillside like Bruynwaves, Stasie Ses restaurant, the club and the Beleef deli among them. They want Hillside to become part of their organisation, with people following their beliefs no matter how bizarre. They must give up all forms of technology and honour Mother Nature. Francois lost his sanity offscreen when his wife died in a blaze started by a faulty electric blanket. That was when he swore revenge against technology for killing people. He wants to rid humanity of gadgets, using Hillside as a test. “He is fanatically convinced that in time, the Hillsiders will believe the evil that technology brings and that they will declare him their leader. He believes that no one will be able to stop him,” says Chris. The Haven members are using the deli as a headquarters where Francois, his stepdaugther Suna (Anelle Bester) and their disciples run their operations from. Their first communication comes on Friday 2 November from lawyer
Xander’s ( Theo Jantjies) office. Xander attacks a soldier in a bid for freedom, but during the scuffle a grenade is armed and detonates, injuring Xander and boutique owner Connie (Quinne Brown Huffman), who is standing right beside the weapon when it explodes.
PLAY FOR POWER
Francois refuses to release Xander and Connie to get medical attention. Chris explains that his character doesn’t want to give up any hostages because he will lost his grip over them. “He is drunk with power and will rather let Xander and Connie die, which will help him convince Hillside that it’s because they had technology in their lives that they are now dead. In the meantime, the police are working behind the scenes with Hilda, Alexa (Carina Nel) and Mariaan (Deirdre Wolhuter), who weren’t in town when the soldiers invaded and took hostages. Dramatic Hilda is shocked when the police show them footage of the man behind the chaos on Friday 2 November. “Hilda knows Francois from his years as the owner of Oppiekoffie,” says Annelisa. “But this isn’t the Francois she knows and loves.”
HILDA IS THE KEY
Francois allows Fikani (Nicholas Nkuna) to treat Xander on Monday 5 November under the watch of his
men. Connie is fading fast from blood loss and Matrone (Annelize van der Ryst-Hattingh), who has limited medical experience, tries to help but there is only so much she can do. Current Oppiekoffie boss Charmaine ( Vinette Ebrahim) tries to talk some sense into Francois, reminding him that they were good friends once before. But Francois isn’t listening to a word she says… until Charmaine mentions Hilda. “Francois has always held a special place in his heart for Hilda and he remembers how he and Hilda’s exhusband Oubaas (Pierre van Pletzen) used to fight each other to win her affection. When he hears that Hilda is still in Hillside, something is stirred inside his heart that could actually change this entire situation, explains Chris. Francois approaches Charmaine and tells her to find Hilda. He will let Connie get the urgent medical treatment she needs, but only if Charmaine gets him what he wants.
LOVE IS BLIND
Hilda gets word of the situation and she realises just what a responsibility she has on her shoulders – she can save Connie on Tuesday 6 November, explains the actress. “Her heart breaks for Connie and she agrees to go see Francois immediately if it means rescuing her friends.” The Haven’s leader devotes his full attention when Hilda arrives, giving the go-ahead for Fikani to treat Connie. “He is shocked when he sees her injuries,” says Annelisa. “He’s worried that he may not be able to save her.” Hilda realises on Wednesday 7 November that Francois is infatuated with her when he proposes, giving her an awkward condition that we’re not allowed to reveal yet – but trust us, it’s not all it appears to be!
RITE OF PASSAGE
Francois, drunk on love and power, believes that he’s in complete control on Friday 9 November and to celebrate, he hosts a ceremony with everyone decked out in loose-fitting white clothes. This isn’t the end though – a dramatic event on Monday 12 November is going to change everything, for everyone… Rickus (André Lotter) has been a Haven member since the beginning of October when they brainwashed him after finding him half-dead from the fight club. “Until now, Rickus believed with his whole heart in Haven’s mantra, that technology is evil. But he never thought that they would get violent, take over Hillside and behave in this extreme manner,” shares André. On Thursday 8 November, Rickus tries to fight back and stop Francois’s plan. “He confronts Francois in Beleef and calls him sick and twisted and that he should let everybody go.” That merely antagonises Francois, who orders his men to tie up Rickus.
7DE LAAN GOES HD
If you think the image quality of 7de Laan is looking sharper, you have a good eye. And it’s interesting that the soap is focusing on an anti-technology storyline while the production company made the decision to upgrade their very own filming tech. Since Thursday 25 October, 7de Laan has been airing in high- definition. But to do that, they had to move from their studios in Lonehill to Sisani Studios in Lyndhurst.
KEEPING UP WITH THE TIMES
“Change is never easy,” says the soap’s publicist Rosa-Mari le Roux. “For 18 years, our studios in Lonehill were our home, but we made the decision to upgrade and keep up with technology so that we don’t stagnate. Our new facilities are also bigger, which we’re maximising with three new HD-enabled cameras. 7de Laan is now sharing studios with the likes of Isidingo (1998- current), Rhythm City (2007- current), and Skeem Saam (2011- current), who also film at Sisani Studios.
André keeps close to his injured girlfriend Connie.
Hilda is the key to saving Hillside, if she agrees to Francois’s proposal.
Francois’s followers are armed with bombs.
The Haven march toward Hillside.
The Hillsiders are forced to wear the uniform of their captors.
Rickus was loyal to Haven.
A shirtless Rickus confronts Francois.
The club is one of the places Haven is keeping hostages.
The set designers took hundreds of photos of the old sets before moving to the new studios – here they’re busy rebuilding the OppieKoffie coffee shop. Because the images being broadcast are all HD, everything had to be upgraded on the soap, from set details through to wardrobe and even the make-up that is used. The pixels on screen show everything – if you look closely, you can just about make out the pores in the actors’ skin, which is why light-absorbing make-up is used by makeup artists like Lucky on Deirdre Wolhuter (Mariaan) and her co-stars.
The new studios have soundproofed walls to keep out any noise. One of 7de Laan’s new hi-def cameras – the three cost the soapie millions of rands.