Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I'm in the odd position of having two (hotting up) feature scripts that both have the same noun in the title. For karmic blog purposes, let's suppose this word* is 'rabbit'. (N.B. There are no rabbits in either script) So let's say one script is called Blue rabbit and the other one is called Rabbit and me. Whereas Blue Rabbit is about a self-styled rabbit who is not really a rabbit at all but exhibits the airs and graces of a rabbit, Rabbit and me is a slice of life, biographical story of a real live rabbit. Still reading? I'm just hoping I won't start confusing them in emails etc. *This same word features in the title of a major US TV series so clearly is in the ether at the moment.

Maybe my repertoire of titles is drying up. I hope not. Each title was right for that script. I always think that the title is often the key to writing the script and works best when it sums up the essence of the story. Most of the time I can't start writing until the title is there. Recently I changed a title - (even though the script came 2nd somewhere.) There was a naff word in the title that I was never happy with - but as I hadn't managed to come up with anything better - it stayed. However when I reworked the story into a radio play, the emphasis changed and suddenly a gloriously simple and apposite title appeared. Perfect.

Anyway titles or rabbits - what do you think?

Friday, May 25, 2007


The god of war is my muse.
Nobel Prize-winning writer Wole Soyinka tells Helen Oyeyemi why literature must struggle against injustice. Read the full article in the Telegraph online here.

The Voice of Conscience - Soyinka talks to Maya Jaggi in The Guardian (28/06) here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


The nearest internet cafe (if you can call it that) from here is a 2-boother inside a grocery kiosk, the other side of the taxi rank - about a 7 minute walk towards the mountain. I decide to try this first.

Taxis (minibuses) are still the most popular form of public transport in South Africa. The local rank is still divided up (a throwback) - on one side, taxis service the black townships of Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Maccassar, Philippi and Gugulethu. Over the railway bridge, taxis run to the so called coloured areas of Bonteheuvel, Mannenberg, Athlone and Heideveld.

The small internet booth is run by a woman from the DRC who informs me that she doesn't know anything about the computers so not to bother asking. I pay my 5 Rands (about 35p) for half an hour to find that the dial-up is slow and pages take ages to load. After about 10 minutes (of my half hour) the owner tells me that she needs to close up. She waves her hand impatiently - telling me that I can come back later and finish. I make a mental note not to return.

Next I try the internet cafe owned by 3 Nigerian brothers further up towards the main road. Sandwiched in between 2 of the 50 or so local hairdressing salons, this 15 booth joint is packed and noisy. Across the road, kwaito booms out of speakers set either side of the doorway of a plastics store. Outside, taxi drivers shriek at passers-by; 'Wynberg, Claremont, Claremont Wynberg!' I pay my 5 Rands and take a seat in between a student surfing Oprah's site and a Ghanaian woman who joggles her young son on her knee while speaking to relatives in Accra via video messaging. (If you want to road-test the most ingenious uses of new technology - try any big city in Africa). There are now 47 unopened messages in my inbox but the server is slow and it is hard to concentrate. There's a message from the producer in Cannes but I can't open it. On the PC screen of the adjoining booth, is a jerky 'frame grab' video image of the Ghanaian woman who sobs into webcam, 'We both miss you so much.'
I make a mental note to come back only if I have to.

I practically sprint the two miles along the main road to a state-of-the-art internet cafe in a copy shop. Here everything is broadband and flat screened. The sofas are bright and colourful. I zap through my emails in 8 minutes. The meetings in Cannes sound positive. My half hour costs R4.

I make a mental note to come back (that's when I have to).

Monday, May 21, 2007

Script Frenzy

For those needing a kickstart to get a new feature script written - why not try the Script Frenzy challenge? More details here
It is free and there is no prize - but you can give yourself a pat on the back - if you complete the challenge.

Serious local telecommunications problems are currently impeding my blogging activities - normal service should resume shortly.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

script shop

Sell your script to companies in Hollywood (and other places)!

Visit this blog to see who wants what, where, when and how.
Click here

Updated daily.

Fat 100

Yes the 100th blog post today! Wooee!

Give yourself a pat on the back,
pat on the back,
pat on the back,
give yourself a pat on the back

100 posts today
far away!

Seems to be that quiet time of year when script somebodies are not at their desk or they're at Cannes or not at Cannes or on their way or pretending to be.

Now is probably a good time to take stock of what's happened so far this year. I've submitted scripts and synopses left, right and centre that I've yet to hear about. I did a crash course in Xhosa (although far from fluent, I did gain an 'overview'.) I stepped off a lucrative scriptwriting job (for jolly good reason) and won 2nd prize in a script competition that no one has ever heard of. I had 2 rejections from Beeb drama that were so fabulously positive they could be mistaken for acceptances - almost (ha!). I wrote and submitted a short I haven't heard about yet, reworked a feature drama into a radio play for a comp and found a UK producer for another feature drama submission. Also did plenty of honing, tweaking, refining and re-writing and am now working on these jazz stories. Plus an SA producer is in Cannes with my 'hot' project - let's see.

Distant shores beckon perhaps.

(any other Shiny Show fans out there?)

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Radio was quite big in my home as a child since we didn't have a TV until I was well into my teens - a fact which often bemuses producers and others that I work with nowadays. I remember my grandmother in Wigan had a huge radio on her sideboard that was always tuned ready for 'Waggoner's Walk'. When her programme came on, she sat in front of the radio and listened.

I don't remember missing out by not having TV - although in one lesson at school we were asked what our favourite programme was and I sat anxiously wondering what I could say. It didn't matter anyway because the first child said 'Starsky and Hutch' and so did the next and the next and the next. So when it came to me I just said 'Starsky and Hutch' and hoped I was pronouncing the title correctly because I hadn't a clue what it was.

Later on when we did have a TV - viewing was carefully regulated by my mother (who now doesn't have a TV at all.) After 7.30pm TV watching was over. I don't know whether they had the watershed but my mum's cut off time was well before it! I remember standing in my pyjamas peeking through a central heating grill half way up the stairs trying to watch the end of 'Z Cars'.

Now here with satellite DSTV there are over a hundred channels - more to choose but less choice (of anything that I really want to see.) When I first moved to these shores, I watched Eastenders probably more avidly than I had in the UK. The characters and storylines were familiar compared to those in the local soaps. Also Eastenders had a regular early evening timeslot and was pretty much synchronous with the UK transmissions. Last year they suddenly revised the schedules and lumped Eastenders into an omnibus edition on Sundays. In a family - even with a split decoder - TV watching is often about bagging your programme ahead of others - ahead of the children's TV and ahead of the sports or news. So for me, Sunday afternoon was out. BBC Prime is still my channel of choice - despite being crammed with lifestyle/makeover programmes fronted by curious hermaphoditic presenters with plastic spectacles and names that are either monosyllabic or double barrelled.

In this household, local stations are 'must see' mainly for news or local sports. The main broadcaster SABC attracts the greatest share of the South African audience - mainly because it is free-to-air. The vast portion of the population does not have access to anything other than terrestrial TV, if that. Radio has a wider reach particularly in the rural areas. In the townships there are often up to 30 people in a room - all watching a popular local TV drama such as 'Home Affairs'.

snip: this rather rambling post has been cut. I'll write more about the local broadcaster in a separate post

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Not too much to report - still awaiting various outcomes from here and there and this and that. One local organisation was pleasant enough to email back and say that their hold up was due to 'language issues.'

Am a bit annoyed that a DVD I posted to a producer in the UK on 28th April did not arrive in time to be included with another submission. Agggh - probably all my fault - should've sent it speed post or courier but it would have been a whopping R497 (nearly 50 quid) Anyway - cross fingers that they'll accept it late.

For those who may be interested, I'm writing up a series of interviews with some of South Africa's jazz legends - which I think I might post here (after they've been published).

98th post - getting there slowly - hope to find something exciting for that all important 100th!


Sunday, May 06, 2007


Was driving through Heideveld yesterday when T Rex - Cosmic Dancer came on the radio. Eish - not heard that in years. Now the lyrics are stuck in my head

I was dancing when I was twelve
I was dancing when I was twelve


After a petulant pots filter, controlling cap, lazy LAN and burnt telephone wire (my fault that one) the latest telecommunications defect is an intermittent and evasive router fault that has developed gradually over the last fortnight.

This one is also infuriatingly undetectable. The minute the phone is put down, the ADSL switches off - so the phone has to be taken off the hook to go back online. So no calls can be received while online half the time.

But the other half of the time, it all works perfectly.

They've checked the exchange and say everything is fine. Whenever the Telkom blokes come (which is twice this week) the fault mysteriously goes away. And when they've gone, it comes back again.

Hmmmm. Maybe it's the weather. Or something to do with those disappearing bees...

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Race matters

John August answers a query about type-casting and race in Hollywood;

"I am an African-American aspiring screenwriter and I was curious about how the industry views us. Are Black screenwriters seen as being able to only write material with themes pertaining to our race?"

Read the rest of the post here.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


There've been a lot of holidays here lately: Friday, then Monday was a school holiday and yesterday another bank holiday - so maybe things can get back to normal now. Plus the last couple of weekends have also been taken up with children's parties - my daughter's friends now turning 5. So come Saturday it was off up the N1 to BugZ - a play park with giant dolls houses, paddle boats, mini trains and trampolines and ponies and the like. Think I might have my next birthday there.