Monday, July 30, 2007


OK so this post is popping up all over - I'm linking to it here because it is funny.
For advice on your writing career read

Right that's enough faffing for today. Back to work

In the dark?

Then try Google's little black number - the search engine for the energy conscious.

Click here.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

On ice

Another weekend, another children's birthday party. This one at Cape Town's hub of hedonism - Grand West - not the casino but the adjoining ice rink which still seemed a little too grown up for 5 and 6 year olds - but hey what do I know? The place was full of whirling teen skaters, flicking corkscrew curls as they skimmed mesmerising figure eights backwards under the disco lights. Very filmic.
Meanwhile the 5 and 6 year olds stumbled and skidded slowly round the edges, clambering back on to the decking once in a while for a piece of ice cream cake.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Opportunities round up

Update - (New!) GENESIS - dramas for television in African languages by South African scriptwriters.

SABC 1 Presents : GENESIS Four (4) dramas for television in African languages by South African scriptwriters. GENESIS is an exciting project aimed at promoting African languages through the production of compelling, innovative and dramatic stories in African languages. The 4 X 48’ minute television dramas will be broadcast on SABC 1.

Themes can encapsulate anything from the comic to the tragic, the traditional to the modern, the scientific to the magical, and even the extra-terrestrial. Stylistically, GENESIS also wants to extend the boundaries of the visual language and the cultural codes used on South African television.

APPLICATION PROCESS: South African writers are invited to submit a 2/3 page idea (treatment) for a dramatic story. The ideas or stories may be original or they may be based on pre-existing texts such as plays, dramas or even proverbs, and where necessary ALL copyrights cleared. Submissions may be in any of South Africa’s official languages but preference will be given to XiTsonga, SiSwati, TshiVenda and isiNdebele.

8 writers wil be shortlisted for development.

The closing date for submissions is Friday, 31 August 2007.

For further information and entry form contact Ramadan at the following email: ramadan 'at'

2. MNET EAST AFRICA IS calling for script proposals for the production of an East African television series. The production, with a budget of $1.1 million, will be shot in Kenya and will feature a regional cast and theme.
“We are not restricting the scripts concept but are looking for a theme based on the dynamics of everyday life in East Africa with family appeal”
The drama series to be screened next year, is one of a series of initiatives on film making in East Africa by the South African channel, which has announced a training project in Nigeria for 10 Kenyan film makers later in the year.
Deadline for submissions is 17th August 2007
The full brief can be downloaded by clicking on
this link here:

3. Call to Commonwealth filmmakers
Broadcasters and independent filmmakers from across the five regions of the Commonwealth are invited to submit initial entries to the Vision Awards by providing a written scenario for a short film. This year's entries are to be based on the chosen theme for 2007: 'Changing communities, greening the globe'.
Up to fifteen applicants will be short-listed by an independent selection panel and awarded £1,000 each to assist in the production of the finished film.
The winner will receive £2,500 and a trophy, and other awards will be made. The winning entries will, from January 2008, be broadcast Commonwealth-wide, particularly on and around Commonwealth Day (10 March 2008).
An application form and brochure may be received by sending an email to Applications can also be made online at the website - click
UPDATE: Deadline has now been extended to 27th August 2007

4. For radio playwrights across Africa, details of the next BBC African Performance Radio Play competition are now up on their website.
The competition is open to Africans not normally resident in the UK.
Entries can be on any subject as long as it touches the lives of Africans. They must have a cast of no more than 6 characters. They should run to 30 minutes when acted out.
There will be three prizes. The first prize is £1000, the second is £850 and the third prize is £650.
There is plenty of time to get writing as entries should arrive no later than 1 December, 2007.
Full details are available on the website -
click here.

5. Finally - a call for animated shorts:
ASIFA and Toon Boom Launch International Animation Contest
ASIFA (Association internationale du film d'animation) and Toon Boom Animation Inc. have announced the launch of International Animation Contest for the Web, open to worldwide creative minds. The contest is open until September 24, 2007 and is calling for animated shorts that are two minutes or less based on the theme, "Global Warming". To take part in this International Animation Contest, please follow the information on Toonboom Animation's web site, the registration form will be soon downloadable from

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Today I was wondering what ever happened to that prize that I was supposed to have won a while back. I jaunted around the internet and found myself here. There over on the right hand side there's mention of the 3 winners and even a photo (!) (not of me of course because I didn't go) But someone is holding my plaque! - it has my name on it - I ENLARGED it and saw. Aha proof!
I'm due some euros - but where are they?
And where is my plaque?

Hasty emails have been despatched.
Watch this space...

circles and spirals

So on to 'the stories we tell and why we tell them.'

Some people say that we all only really have one story, which we tell over and over again in different forms. Sometimes it’s a circle and sometimes it’s a spiral. *

I read an interview somewhere, ages ago with the Weinstein brothers who spoke about how their Jewish experience informed the stories they wanted to tell ‘We make films about the outsider who comes in and changes things’.

The stories I tell are often about 'the insider who doesn’t fit in and wants to run away.’ A different migrant experience. When I look over vastly different scripts I've written - it is a theme that keeps popping up.

So here's an interesting exercise - try and sum up what you write about in a short phrase or a single sentence...

* sometimes it's simple and sometimes it's a bit more complicated

Monday, July 23, 2007

writer or writer-director?

OK not blogged for a while - so a bit of a rambly one this one. There's been talk elsewhere about the need for scriptwriters to multi-task these days and consider being 'writer-directors' or 'writer-producers'.

Having come into writing more from the filmmaking end in the first place I'm inclined to agree that this is the way forward. In these digitally diverse times, there's a greater need for writers to extend their creative repertoire. Plus directing feeds writing and vice versa. 'Writer-producer' is a more difficult one (in my opinion - since writers and producers tend to exhibit diametrically opposed personality traits) But then again - being industry savvy, personable and business-like in approach can only enhance a career.

A bit of a tangent now: I started off making strange little art films with no recognisable beginning, middle or end - in which people wandered about and said and did odd things. There were (politely) called 'anti-narratives.' I was more interested in telling stories (but this was a bit of no-no then in art filmmaking). So in my early shorts, the stories fought to be recognised.
One day I attended a degree show 'installation' at some big Art College. At the front of the room was a large TV, placed with the screen facing the wall. The audience filed in. The TV was switched on and in the darkened room we were treated to a 20 minute viewing of the 'glow' projected on the wall from the monitor. After 4 minutes I ran to the door and demanded to be let out citing claustrophobia. I think it was actually an early manifestation of 'fear of storyless-ness' - ( if there is such a thing.)

Later - characters from my 'anti-narrative' shorts returned in more conventional stories.

(Some people say that we all only really have one story, which we tell over and over again in a different form. Sometimes it’s a circle and sometimes it’s a spiral. This is starting to sound like a topic for another post.)

Back on topic: There's this mystique about directing and I have no idea why since writing and re-writing is often harder than directing. Of course the two demand different skills. Writers can be self effacing, writer-directors can not. Writing is often solitary, directing is team work. The director involvement is also shorter. Writing can go on endlessly. Directing demands more social/ people skills. It is also stressful, requires meticulous planning and involves a massive amount of crisis management. However directing is also great fun - so long as there is a good, experienced producer and competent crew to back up a 'new' director.

So over to you. Writer only or writer-director (and why)?
Plus if anyone has any queries about writer-directors - then drop a comment. Ta

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


in the meantime.

Friday, July 13, 2007

a small piece of mountain

seen from back garden this afternoon.

Last day of school holidays today yippee!


Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Quick early blog this one. Yesterday watched all-singing, all-dancing pigs in a shopping centre foyer and ate in Woolworth's cafe. Here Woolworths is in fact Marks and Spencers - the local version. Unbelievable but true - same chain but with local versions of products and SA stuff like water brussels etc. Clothes, layout all almost identical. Maybe inverted snobbery makes Brits reluctant to believe this until they step inside the store and feel instantly at home. Come Christmas you can even find butter basted turkeys with the M & S labels on them.

In other news the old lady next door is in hospital unable to walk - but did she fall or was she pushed? Hub inquired about her health (from her adopted daughter) over the garden wall and was told it was a broken hip. Straight after their conversation, the adopted daughter wrote a letter to the neighbour opposite accusing her of gossiping saying that her husband was very sorry for what he had done. Neighbour opposite brought the letter over to us. Hmm.

Am waiting for notes on a treatment before embarking on the first draft of a new script. The SA producer (who went to Cannes) sent an encouraging email outlining various ways forward - even mentioning money - but all very much on the back burner there yet. Still waiting to hear back on various projects including a SHORT outstanding since January. I put that in bold capitals so that blog karma will bring about an immediate response now. Usually works and better to hear something than not hear anything at all huh? This break from writing has enabled me to rethink strategies and paths and all that stuff. After the scripting 'hiccough' earlier in the year, I'd been turning my attentions to overseas - since writing for local production tends to be rather creatively 'encumbered'. But maybe it is time to put aside such thoughts and leaf through the RFP booklet once again - there's still some August deadlines approaching...

A big question mark this year is
Sithengi whose future will be decided at the end of the month by the board of directors. It's unlikely that the international film and TV market will continue in its present form, or even run this year since it is now a bit late in the day to set it up. Sithengi has been an important feature of SA's film and TV industry for the last 11 years. My first time there I landed a meaty writing job - unfortunately the company liquidated 4 months into development. But Sithengi provides a chance for everyone to catch up. I've met some great people there. One key advantage is that it is small and intimate - more like Dinard than Cannes. Plus there's always a writer's forum, chance to meet international commissioners and often a couple of new writing schemes or competitions launched. It'll be a pity if it doesn't continue. Let's see.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


With holiday school cancelled at the last minute, had to try and find exciting pastimes for my daughter. Yesterday went to see Shrek 3. (I never saw 1 or 2 mainly because I wasn't inclined plus my daughter was probably too young to sit through feature films before.) It didn't matter since, despite the fact that the storyline goes a bit AWOL from time to time, I was totally won over. It's a visual feast - combining Maurice Sendak style chunky creatures, Paula Rego-esque surrealism and walking, talking trees straight out of the Wizard of Oz! Told my mum she must go (I mean all that stuff can be wasted on the very young.) Now will have to go and look up 1 and 2.

So although not much writing getting done, have been contemplating writing children's films. Hmmm.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Reasons to be cheerless

Clinical depression and the prospect of a shortened lifespan are some of the joys successful scriptwriters are more likely to face, according to TV psychologist Raj Persaud.

Read on here.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Najwa Petersen wife of music legend Taliep Petersen (Ghoema, Kat and the Kings) appeared in court this week to apply for bail. In a news story that has gripped the nation; Najwa is charged with the murder of her husband who was gunned down at their Cape Town home in December last year.

Today's local tabloid carried the headline: 'The devil wears pardah'

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Who's writing what we see?

A new report on how screenwriters of British films are recruited shows that there are opportunities for the UK film industry to encourage a wider range of screenwriting talent, including women as screenwriters in particular.

Read on here.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

July, July, July, July

Party over and done with thank goodness. Though the witless magician pulled off my daughter's wig (fancy dress plait thing) in front of everyone and of course she burst into tears. Tssk

Anyway after a record 22 postings in June I think I'll return to normal frequency. With the flurry of career peaks and troughs lately, I've been getting sucked into mini-dramas all over the place.

So what else?

Is it a Sufi saying or something - about how you can travel the world and learn a million things and come back and have exactly the same understanding as someone who has been shut up in a room the whole time, gazing at a cabbage...

hmm something like that..

Anyway I was thinking about that after reading comments to a recent post over at Stacks. Made me think about writing and (what I think Faith Popcorn termed) 'cocooning.' Should a writer take all his/her cues, sustenance and inspiration from boxed sets, DVDs, TV and existing shows and films? Or rather draw from what people loosely term 'real life' (whatever that is). And anyway does it make any difference to scriptwriting? What type of knowledge is the greatest asset for scriptwriters? - worldly or TV? Is it more important to know different people or to have seen a zillion programmes and be able to reference icons and invoke familiar character types?

Yes yes - probably best to just get on with the writing. But any thoughts?