Saturday, December 30, 2006


Odd time of year.

A bit in between. So, have been catching up on various year-end blog round-ups and wondering whether I too should resolve to 'post more frequently' or 'write x or y numbers of film or TV scripts' Hmmm...

Don't really like to make too many resolutions. Though I enjoy making lists. Right now I'm surrounded by them - 'looking back lists', 'looking forward lists', 'script lists', 'chase up lists' and all that stuff. All ready for the New Year.
BTW - for those who are listless - there's always twitter (ha)

There's stuff I could have blogged in the past week but (wisely) didn't: seasonal family fracas complete with stuffed lion. Plus the intrigue behind a juicy breaking news story (hint: Earl)
... Anyway all great material or 'story dust' as some folk term it and bound to turn up in some form or another in a script sooner or later.

Anyway *trumpet sound* the children TV series (which took a fairly hefty chunk out of my 2006) will now TX weekly from 24th January next year. Hurrah!

So cheers all and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Time to power down. Time to stockpile Pinot Grigio and crumbly mince pies.

Time to trudge off to the local lido at 9am and swim amid 200 yodelling kids hurling themselves into the pool. Pyyeeeeow!

Time to go to Spier and scowl at cheetahs and orange eyed owls that always hoot just before you sneeze.

Christmas time.

Seasons greetings everyone!

Monday, December 18, 2006


Over on Danny's blog today there's mention of a visual thesaurus which I'd not heard of before.

Try it out. It's fantastic.

Definitely a must-have for scriptwriters. OK Santa?

Friday, December 15, 2006


Final mix done and dusted. Let me draw a line under it.


So back to scriptwriting.

Finished reading a script that I've been asked to do a page 1 rewrite on. The premise is great but the material is lacklustre (can't be too rude on the blog) The main problem is POV. Whose story is it? Well considering the main character's name is the script's title then the story POV should be fairly obvious. But hay nonny no no no. Actually what is needed is not a rewrite but an entirely new script from the same premise. Let's see - what side of plus minus the fee falls first....

So will first tackle TV drama 'WF' which has been waiting in the wings now for about 6 months. Plus catch up on all other stuff..

There's a brilliant short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in Granta 95 (latest issue I think) 'Jumping Monkey Hill' - about a workshop for African writers taking place in Cape Town. Read it.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Year end round up

So on to the latest round up of film and TV opportunities for local screenwriters and filmmakers (and thanks to those who emailed info).

**Update: Details of a whole range of scriptwriting initiatives are now available on the updated SASWU website (see sidebar).

Mnet are currently looking for 13 x prime time stand alone 'made for TV dramas'. The information is available
here. Deadline is 30 March 2007

SABC recently launched briefs for all genres including drama - which are available for download at their
website. This year - there is development (R & D) finance available for certain proposals.

For filmmakers worldwide, MTV's onedotzero initiative offers a chance to propose a one minute film and win a commission worth 2000 UK pounds. More info
here. Deadline is 31st January 2007.

For Directors and Screenwriters based in East Africa, Mira Nair's Maisha Film Lab will be open for business again in the New Year. The application process has now been expanded to train cinematographers, sound people and editors. More information is available

Also worth checking out is information about
The All Roads Film Project's seed grants.

Phew it was hot today. I spent the afternoon trekking round fabric shops in Salt River - until I nearly keeled over into rolls of flanelette...


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Africa Lite

Painting by Owusu-Ankomah

Ok so on to Africa Lite posited as a new genre - so this will probably be a long meandering ramble over several posts...

Over the last 7 years we've seen a slew of good to brilliant award-winning films coming from these shores - all of them skewing towards 'darker' subjects. No matter, there's still huge antipathy (in South African audiences) towards 'worthy' or 'political' local films. It's well known that only Schuster's fairly un-exportable brand of slapstick and MTV style youth comedies pull SA audiences in their droves. A cry oft repeated (at Sithengi and on moviezone discussion groups) is 'we need lighter films'. Less drear, more cheer. But can we do light? And do we really want to? Or is Africa Lite a Hollywood skewed economic imperative at odds with Africa's complex history and even more complicated present? Hmmm maybe you can answer that...? (ha)

I'm going to talk about Minghella's forthcoming No1 Ladies Detective Agency movie (or will it be the 'Tears of The Giraffe' adaptation now?) The book has already inspired several productions at the Beeb - see article
here: You can probably listen to it on the 'Listen Again ' service - but I haven't managed to find it yet.

Minghella's film is due to shoot in these parts sometime next year. In many ways McCall Smith's detective series typifies Africa Lite - with pleasant African settings and colourful characters and 'small town' outlook with an accent on traditional values and virtues. The mood is kept light - moments of sadness are quickly overtaken by cheerful humour or comic oddity. Nasty stuff (AIDS, poverty, domestic violence etc) is pushed firmly into the background. This is 'feel good Africa' for Western audiences.

And maybe this is why folk seem peculiarly polarised in their opinions of the Lady Detective series - either loving or hating it. I'm even going to suggest that these opinions are polarised around race. The novels certainly hold an appeal for middle England (even middle America) - gentile, travelled white ladies of a certain age - Archers listeners perhaps? Go on now, punch me madam. Whereas black women seem to hate them - just talk to Facety about McCall Smith (and outsider's perspective and authorship and cultural authenticity!) But this is only a straw poll - and not very reliable. Just to prove it - I admit I'm a fan. Though I have to claim more than a passing interest here, since a few years back (one of SA's producers has/had the rights) I lobbied to do the adaptation (and received a pleasant enough reply alluding to re-decorating issues..hmmm).

Anyway, Mma Ramotswe has all the potential to be as magnificent on the screen as on the page. But please no Joan Armatrading, Oprah, Queen Latifah or Whoopie Goldberg! And there you have it - casting famous black Americans (or Brits) as African characters - the first of many pitfalls... be continued...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Blogs and bean counters

I've tried to avoid getting obsessed by this whole blog thing and tags and side bars and exploring the why fors of the Beta and bean counters and even video blogging (!) But sitting in front of a computer for most of the day - it's hard to avoid peeking and tweaking and refining. A bit like gardening I suspect.

Yesterday I uploaded a free counter I found somewhere, but it appeared to be going backwards (maybe I was bouncing people away from my site?) Anyway the design didn't match my layout. So I took it off but I think it is still buried out there - busily counting. No doubt someone will illuminate me on its whereabouts.

In case anyone is interested, what I'd like to see on the Beta is some kind of IM (Instant Message) tie-in with the comments for the occasional real-time chit chat with scriptwriters across the globe. Hmm..

Well this month, I'm taking a cue from
TM MacGregor's horoscopes for writers (Aries) 'So many planets are stacked in your favor that it’s the ideal time for submitting manuscripts, finding an agent or editor, or for expanding your readership overseas. Your inbox fills up, your phone rings constantly...'
Can't wait.

BTW promised post - coming soon.

Monday, December 04, 2006

+ Plus Minus -

And so back to the blog - after the 10 day re-editing blitz (in de-humidified Henley). Ah breeze. Ah sea.

A few disparate projects seem to be heating up here and there - but still too early to tell. The long holiday is fast approaching. Everyone will shut up shop for plus minus 6 weeks and I have a backlog of writing to get on with.

One of the phrases I've become accustomed to in the last five years is 'plus minus' usually used in reference to the vagaries of 'African time' or, less often - mooted script payment amounts. Ha. Another is 'per cent' - as in amounts of daily rainfall forecast. This can be 30 or 60 per cent rain in August or April. On occasion it is 100 percent rain. I've never yet been able to work out what the percentage refers to since 100% rarely means that it rains all day.

Anyway - coming soon a post on Africa Lite or rather a ramble about what types of African scripts currently seem to be attractive to local and international financiers. So to get you in the right mood here's a short burst of Skokiaan ....(if I can get the link right)