About the film

  • Length22 minutes
  • CompletionJuly 2023
  • Production countrySouth Africa
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Subtitles (SRT available)French, Spanish, Arabic
  • GenreDrama, human rights
  • Film categoryShort, fiction, live action
  • Shooting days6 days
  • CameraSony FX6
  • Shooting formatDigital 4K
  • Screening formatDCP 2K / scope / prores / mp4

22 minutes

July 2023

Production country
South Africa


Subtitles (SRT available)
French, Spanish, Arabic

Drama, human rights

Film category
Short, fiction, live action

Shooting days
6 days

Sony FX6

Shooting format
Digital 4K

Screening format
DCP 2K / scope / prores / mp4


A six year old child runs away from a troubled household. A drama that explores the innocence of childhood, a quest for acceptance, and the transformative power of childhood experiences


Join six-year old Jesse as she bravely escapes from her troubled reality in search of a happier life. In this captivating and heartfelt film, Jesse embarks on an exciting journey where, along the way she revisits pivotal moments from her past. These memories include the joyous moments with her best friend, Cat, and her family, contrasted with the moments of neglect that she experiences from her parents at home.

Throughout her journey, she seeks to recapture the safety, joy and warmth that she felt when she was around Cat and her family. Yet, alongside the joyous memories, Jesse has to confront the stark realities of her home life and the memories of the heartbreak and neglect from which she is trying to escape. “Sand Castles” is a poignant tale that intertwines hope and despair, capturing the essence of childhood innocence in the face of adversity. It will leave audiences, young and old alike, pondering the significance of positive parenting and the lifelong impact that parents can have on their children.


  • JesseAllegra Cockcrof
  • CatKaris Williams
  • Uncle JackClifford Joshua Young
  • Jesse’s MomSarah-Jane Collins
  • Jesse’s DadMatthew Osbourne
  • Lady DriverNicolette Cloete-Barass
  • Cat’s MomMelissa Pinches

Allegra Cockcrof

Karis Williams

Uncle Jack
Clifford Joshua Young

Jesse’s Mom
Sarah-Jane Collins

Jesse’s Dad
Matthew Osbourne

Lady Driver
Nicolette Cloete-Barass

Cat’s Mom
Melissa Pinches


  • Written & Directed byTom Collins, James Collins
  • Producers Melissa Evans, Richard Ahlfeldt
  • Executive producersJuan Haro, Oluwatosin Akingbulu, Prince Gregorio
  • Director of PhotographyJustus De Jacger
  • Production Design, Costume DesignSarah-Jane Collins
  • Hair & MakeupKayleigh Stopforth
  • Casting Candice Barron, Melissa Evans
  • Production Sound MixerKayly van Eyssen
  • Edited byTom Collins, James Collins
  • ColouristBrett Gieseke
  • MusicKayly van Eyssen, Robert Duthie
  • Re-recording mixer, Sound designRobert Barron

Written & Directed by
Tom Collins, James Collins

Melissa Evans, Richard Ahlfeldt

Executive producers
Juan Haro, Oluwatosin Akingbulu, Prince Gregorio

Director of Photography
Justus De Jacger

Production Design, Costume Design
Sarah-Jane Collins

Hair & Makeup
Kayleigh Stopforth

Candice Barron, Melissa Evans

Production Sound Mixer
Kayly van Eyssen

Edited by
Tom Collins, James Collins

Brett Gieseke

Kayly van Eyssen, Robert Duthie

Re-recording mixer, Sound design
Robert Barron

Directors’ Note

On the last day of the shoot, we asked our six year old lead child actor, Allegra, what she is going to tell her friends the movie is about. After thinking about it for a moment she said “it’s about the beach and ice creams!”. For us, that answer sums up the magic of what childhood can and should be. We were working with her for a week making a film about a child neglected by her parents, but all she latched onto was the beach and the ice creams.

This film is about parents and a contrast of parenting styles, but it is told through the lens of childhood innocence and simplicity. There is a lot of research that points towards the lifelong impacts of adverse childhood experiences, and in making this film for UNICEF we gained a new understanding of how adult behaviour is so deeply rooted in childhood experiences – both good and bad. This is the message that UNICEF is communicating along with a call to action for governments to adjust parenting support policies.

For us, so much of this film was deeply personal. We grew up with incredibly supportive parents who, we now realise, directly paved the way for any personal and professional success that we might experience. This allowed us to call on so many personal childhood experiences in the writing of this story. On top of that, the production of this film was also a personal one. We were able to shoot this film in our home town in South Africa, using many of the actual locations from our childhood. The interior locations belonged to childhood friends of ours, and even when it came to crew, we were fortunate enough to use the services of our Mom (a qualified child minder) as the chaperone for our first-time child actors.

We’re incredibly thankful to the cast and crew who came together to bring this vision to life, and we deeply appreciate the support of Rooftop Productions and UNICEF who trusted us along the way. We hope that you enjoy this film and that in the midst of whatever difficulties you may face in life, you always find the beach and ice-cream moments to latch onto.

The making of

Rooftop is an international creative agency and production company that specialises in creating content that makes the world a better place. Rooftop believes that the right communication has the power to bring people together and drive impact for social good. Its team of creatives, technicians, strategists, data analysts, and storytellers are passionate about partnering with organisations to bring their messages to life and connect with global audiences.

Over the past 20 years Rooftop has collaborated with NGOs and UN agencies from across the world, innovating in the communication space of storytelling and creating high impact campaigns and content.

Director’s Biography

Tom and James Collins are a sibling writer/director duo based in South Africa. They have been making films together since 2012. With academic backgrounds in music and environmental science, they approach their work with a mix of creative and analytical perspectives.

In 2021, they wrote an directed a French 3-part miniseries titled Vaillante. The series was produced for UNICEF with the goal to drive behavioural change around child marriage practices. It was broadcast on Canal + across central and west Africa and screened at Canal Olympia cinemas in 12 countries.

In 2017 they joined Rooftop, an agency and production company in South Africa, as writer/directors. They are currently working towards producing more long form content with Rooftop in collaboration with humanitarian organisations.

Previous Awards

Vaillante, 2021 – Rooftop Production, written and directed by the Collins brothers

BEST NARRATIVE FILM, Accra Indie Film Fest, Ghana BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN, Accra Indie Film Fest, Ghana

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY, The African Film Festival, USA

BEST FILM ON AFRICAN CULTURAL ISSUES, Lake International Festival, Kenya

BEST ACTRESS, Lake International Pan African Film Festival, Kenya

FINALIST, Ananse Cinema International Film Festival, Ghana